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Venzone - a medieval village in the Alps

Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 8:54 pm
by Forum Monk
In the Italian alps near the tri-corno (the border of Italy, Austria and Slovenia) sits a series of old-fashioned mountain villages which had their origins in the 9th and 10th century. Actually Rome had recognized the area as a strategic location. In the days of Julius Ceasar three fortress cities were built nearby to guard the northeast passages into Italy from the alps. they were the port city of Aquileia, Cividale overlooking the Natisone River and Carnico (adjacent to today's Zuglio - Iulium Carnicum is now just a ruin on a bare hill) near the Tagliamento River. Hannibal later passed farther west. The people which flourished in the region were the alpini; rough, well adapted to life in the mountains and very poor, mainly living by agricultural means.

In the 13th century, the area fell under the Duchy of Aquileia and a century later under the control of the Duchy of Venice and then the Austrian Empire.

The region is geologically, very active, prone to devastating earthquakes. In fact Venzone has been completely destroyed several times by earthquakes, the recent being 1976 in which more 1000 people in the region died.


Venzone was encircled by a double wall in the 14th century in the classic venetian style. This wall collapsed in a 15th century earthquake and was rebuilt. The 1976 earthquake leveled the city which has been carefully restored as much as possible. Even today, parts of the city remain in ruins as a memorial to those who died.

Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 8:58 pm
by Forum Monk
Much of the outer wall on the north side of the village has been restored although the east and west sides remain more or less completely open.

This is a portion of the southern wall:


This view is looking west from the center of the village -


Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 9:15 pm
by Forum Monk
The center of the village is dominated by a courtyard with an old well which still flows water to this day.

This is the east side of the courtyard near a building which served as place for the village mayors to meet. This stairway was supposedly featured in an american-made war movie which showed Rock Hudson descending.


The catherdral windows are classic venetian and one can see the influence throughout the region.

East of the courtyard was the great Duomo di Giovanni (the great cathedral) built in the 1300s. I do not have pictures of it as it was being restored and was wrapped in canvas and plywood. The damage of the earthquake could only be repaired in fits and spurts as money became available for such projects. The money for rebuilding was available, but for restoration? Most came from private sources. I returned to Venzone about five years ago and Duomo has been completely restored. (I didn't have a camera during that visit :cry: )

Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 9:45 pm
by Minimalist
Spectacular scenery, too.