I do never insist enough about the fact that Italy is full of every kind of treasures. And that is not just referred to the major cities that regularly attract tourists from all around the world, but also to the smaller ones and the little villages, sometimes less famous but that do not lack in beauty. Everyone who lives here in Veneto goes to visit, sometimes even more than one time in a year, Cison di Valmarino. The little village is part of the club called “I borghi più belli d’Italia“, an association which gathers together all the small historical centers considered to be the most beautiful in Italy. Cison is placed very near to Follina (about whom we spoke in this previous post of mine) and has just been admitted to this very club last December.
Cison di Valmarino is a very small village that lies in the pre-alpine area between Vittorio Veneto and the famous wine country of Valdobbiade. As it happens with most of these charming places, it is an example of exquisite rural architecture in a place where agriculture and viticulture are still vital after centuries. Not by chance, the settlement is crossed by the bed of the Rujo torrent, unfortunately dry at this time of the year, that begins in the northern side of the village where a complex system of mills was active. This area can be visited and has been included in a path called “Via dei Mulini” (The path of the mills), that from the village leads North to the woods. Furthermore, in this northern area, away from the settlement, there is the Forest of Penne Mozze, a large portion of the woods dedicated to the memory of the war dead.
Unluckily no comprehensive archaeological and historical study about the settlement has been done yet. Scholars believe that the area has been inhabited since Prehistoric times and surely it benefited from the proximity to the Claudia Augusta Altinate during Roman times, when the first castrum was built. The appearance of a stable settlement is generally connected to the so called “barbarian invasions”, when the whole area was under the influence of the Lombard Ducato of Ceneda. In the VIth Century Teodolinda, queen of the Lombards, conceded these lands to the bishops of Ceneda and they remained under their control through the centuries, during both Frankish kingdom and the Holy Roman Empire. In the XIth Century, the area passed to some nobles families, specifically to the Da Camino family, that took posses of the castle. As we have seen elsewhere, during the XVth Century also Cison came under Venice’s influence to be assigned, in 1439, to the Brandolino family that served in battle the Republic of Venice. Their architectural mark and identity still are palpable and give the castle that unmistakable appearance that still fascinates the visitors. I am planning to do a specific post about Castel Brando in the future, as it deserves attentions on its own.
So the combination of this double personality, rural and noble, characterizing this little town, has always fascinated me. It also makes me think a lot about the concepts of beauty and usefulness and how they could find, once, a synthesis; a physical conciliation in a tangible architecture. Places like this have very much to teach to the contemporary world, where what in useful and productive has to be hideous, sometimes monstrous; and what is beautiful and delightful cannot be connected to laboriousness. Architecture has a key role in this and I strongly believe ugly places generate ugliness while beautiful places do the opposite.
Walking along the beautiful streets of Cison, amongst the traditional pebble houses, stone bridges and delightful sights of the Alpine foothills, you can easily reach the main square, Piazza Roma, that gathers the most elegant buildings of the village. In fact it is characterized by some noble palaces dating back to XVIIth Century as well as the main church, dedicated to Saint Maria Assunta and Saint Giovanni Battista. A document dates the ancient parish back to 1170, while the church, in its present form, was built in the XVIIth Century and completed in 1740. Behind the church, on the horizon, the view goes up, towards the castle nestled on the top of the hill, overlooking the village just like it was guarding over it.
Such a place – rich in history and beauty, quiet and relaxing – you won’t believe, turns into one of the most visited places in Veneto during summertime. A quite famous event, called “Artigianato Vivo” that takes place every year in august, attracts here an incredible amount of people since early 90s. The whole village opens its houses, courtyards and palaces to selected master artisans, and the entire town becomes, if possible, an even more magic place.
Benetton wool coat; black wool sweater from a flea market; 3 euro skirt from the market – no brand; silver necklace – gift from a friend; early 20th Century pendant earrings – gift from my mother; fav boots; old bag; NAU red sunglasses – last winter collection
*Pics by Antonio and me *