Pavia's history as capital began some time before the arrival of the Lombards in 569. Its location made Pavia one of the most important military centres in the Roman empire from the early years of the 5th century. But it was only with the Ostrogoth kingdom (493-553) that the town emerged as a royal residence regularly visited by King Theodoric, who had the walls restored and built its spa baths, but also by philosopher Boethius and the hugely cultured Bishop Ennodius. Pavia - now starting to assert its role as capital - was even the site of the crowning of Theodoric's successors Hildebrand, Eraric and Totila. It was only, however, from around the year 625 that Pavia's status as capital of the kingdom and permanent royal residence over and above towns like Milan and Verona was confirmed. The greatest intellectuals of the day stayed in the capital, men such as Paul the Deacon (720-799) author of the History of the Lombards, and complex legal codices such as the Rotari edict (643) were compiled. A visit to Pavia is an important opportunity to retrace a decisive moment in Italian history. It should not be forgotten that at its apex the Lombard kingdom encompassed almost the whole of Italy with the exception of the furthest offshoots of Puglia, Calabria, Sardinia and Sicily which remained Byzantine, and the city of Rome under papal control. A now lost votive crown indicated Agilulf (591-616) as the "king of the whole of Italy". Pavia and its province are certainly a special observatory for an understanding of this extraordinary moment in Italian history and culture. However subtle the traces of the Lombard past, often concealed beneath later layers, the Lombards shaped the town and its surrounding area in fundamental ways. And that's not all. The image of the Lombards has continued to inspire the people of Pavia over the centuries in the choice of place names, in their legends and art. If we look closely at the successive traces of this presence and the ways in which they were revitalised in later periods, we discover an open air museum in which the Lombard footprint is a very clear one. There is no doubt at all that the town of Pavia, and more generally its province, is the most extraordinary Lombard ecomuseum in Europe. Pavia's history as a capital city continued after its conquest by Charlemagne in 774. The Lombard royal line came to an end but the Franks and those who followed them - the Carolingians - kept the kingdom alive and Pavia as its capital. And even when Carolingian rule came to an end and the Regnum Italiae was established from the end of the 9th to the beginning of the 11th centuries Pavia remained capital for the men of the age. And not just a capital in political terms but also centre of a great road and trading network. Pavia was not simply a staging post on the Via Francigena - on an important and accessible route from France to Rome - but a fundamentally important staging post for pilgrims passing through one of the most important towns of the age.
Piazza Municipio, 2 - Pavia 03823991 email@example.com www.comune.pv.it/site/home.html