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Cellina River Stories between Ravedis and Partidor

2 - Montereale

Montereale has a unique history: the ford, the canals and the first mills. In one of the mills, Menocchio not only grinded wheat, but also the ideas of a new cosmogony.



Looking towards north-west, on top of the right bank of the Cellina river, we can see the apse of the church surfacing from the vegetation composed of, among others, the cypress-trees of the adjacent cemetery. The San Rocco church, formerly known as Calaresio parish (the ancient name of the area in which it has been built), was originally dedicated to Saint Mary of the Assumption. It was probably built around the 5th century A.D. near a presumed Roman pagan sacellum. It immediately became a parish, a place of the mountain territory where to evangelize people. The parish was mentioned as “plebem de Calaresio” (common people of Calaresio) for the first time in a Papal bull dated 12 March 1186 or 1187, granted by Pope Urban III to the bishop of Concordia Gionata. The current aspect of the church is due to the works carried out at the beginning of the 16th century and to its enlargement of the 18th century, which added the sacristy to the side of the church.
Worth mentioning is the iconographic frescos of the chancel, painted by Giovanni Maria Zaffoni, known as Calderari, between 1560 and 1563. The scenes represented in the frescos are: Stories of Holy Mary’s life and of Jesus Christ’s life on the cupola of the apse, portraits of the Evangelists, Doctors of the Church, Prophets and Sibyls on the vault and portraits of Prophets and Saints on the intrados. These paintings are very fascinating thanks to the balance of the warm colours and to the beautiful portraits of the represented figures.
Worth noticing is the archaeological site in front of the cemetery: there are the ruins of the so called “aqueduct house,” which dates back to the 2nd century B.C. and was built on top of more ancient buildings.
P. Goi, La chiesa del Menocchio, in L'inquisizione romana: metodologia delle fonti e storia istituzionale, atti del seminario internazionale (Montereale Valcellina, 23-24 settembre 1999), a cura di Andrea Del Col e Giovanna Paolin, Trieste & Montereale Valcellina, Edizioni Università di Trieste & Cicrcolo culturale Menocchio, 2000, (Inquisizione e società. Quaderni, I).

La porta della Valcellina. Montereale Valcellina, Grizzo, Malnisio, San Leonardo Valcellina, appunti di viaggio, a cura di Patrizio De Mattio, Montereale Valcellina, Comune di Montereale Valcellina, 2003.



The small church inside the churchyard is on the left bank of the Cellina river, just outside the village of Maniagolibero. The church stands on a terrace that faces the shore of the river and is easy to recognize thanks to the cypresses of the cemetery. The reason why the church has been built there is to be found on the ancient trails that connected the plain to the Cellina Valley (Valcellina) through the Sant’Antonio and Croce passes, and to the Aviano piedmont area through the ford underneath used to reach Montereale. The current aspect of the church is the result of various renovations carried out on an older building, probably dating back to the 11th-12th century, during the 17th century. It is a small oratory with a rectangular plan, a raised presbytery, a bell tower and an exterior church porch, typical of the Friulian rural churches. In 1806, the Napoleonic edict of Saint-Cloud was applied to Italy. It stated that all burials must take place outside the city walls, and for this reason, the small oratory was surrounded by the new cemetery, enclosed by a fence.
Maniagolibero. Un paese la sua gente, Comitato per il bicentenario della consacrazione della Chiesa di Maniagolibero 1789-1989, Maniago, Parrocchia di Maniagolibero, 1989.



Looking at the top of the north-eastern hill overlooking the cemetery of Montereale, we can see among the thick vegetation the ruins of the main tower of the castle. The tower, together with the ruins of the surrounding walls of the castle, the entrance guarded by a tower and the small buildings leaning against the wall were the main parts of the castle. This small fortress had a strategic position, overlooking and controlling the roadways from the plain and from the Cellina Valley (Valcellina). It was a so called feudo di abitanza, due to its double role both as residence and fortification, since 1203. It lodged the representatives of the bishop of Concordia and of the patriarch of Aquileia and also members of the noble families of the villages of Prata and Montereale. The castle was often involved in acts of war, the most impressive being the 1346 sack suffered by Bianchino di Porcia. It was probably abandoned and then left in ruins because of the devastating earthquakes of 1511 and 1575, which permanently damaged also the Maniago Castle. The many excavations carried out brought to light the most ancient Friulian model of mouth harp, dating back to the 16th-early 17th century, and other finds relating to the daily life in the castle during the late Middle Ages. They are now exhibited at the Montereale Valcellina Archaeological Museum, inside Palazzo Toffoli.
D. Andrews, E. Delvecchio, R. Flook, M. Grattoni d'Arcano, G. Hughes, F. Piuzzi, M. Ragogna, A. Westman, Ricerche archeologiche nel castello di Montereale Valcellina (Pordenone). Campagne di scavo 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, «Archeologia Medievale», XIV, 1987
Calaresio, Grizzo, “Chei del talpa”, 1977, dattiloscritto in Biblioteca civica di Montereale Valcellina.

Museo Archeologico Montereale Valcellina. Guida al museo, a cura di Serena Vitri e Susi Corazza, Montereale Valcellina, Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici del Friuli Venezia Giulia & Comune di Montereale, 2011.



The small building close to the information pillar was built as a heliotherapy colony for the youth of the town during the fascist era. It maintained its typical characteristics despite the interior adjustment interventions carried out during the years. Some locals remember that the colony operated from 1934 to 1940 and told us that it was attended during the day. There you could do gymnastics and eat the meal prepared by nuns. During the post-war, this building was first used as a municipal warehouse and then incorporated to the adjacent sports ground. It has been abandoned long time ago.


Looking at the left bank of the Cellina river, at the end of the western slope of Mount Jouf, we can see a little valley – limited up north by an area without vegetation and down south by a minor hill – with the Fous canyon, at the end of which there is a small hydroelectric plant. This plant was operational in the early 1900s and exploited part of the water coming from the Vivaro canal. This water was diverted to an adjacent charge basin, then sent to turbines through metal pressure pipes and finally brought it back to the canal. The plant was firstly managed by the Società Pordenonese di Elettricità and subsequently by the Anonima Elettrica Trevigiana. It stopped producing energy in 1956, when the first segment of the Vivaro canal was abandoned.
L. Zin, Il Cellina, 2, Pordenone, Consorzio di Bonifica "Cellina-Meduna", 1997, pp. 22-23.



On the opposite bank, close to the bed of the Cellina river, we can easily see the silhouette of the Maniagolibero industrial lime kiln. It was built in the early 60s by an entrepreneur from the Cellina Valley (Valcellina). He moved his activity there and carried on his production just for two decades, directly exploiting the abundant calcareous pebbles of the torrent he found there. The kiln is placed at the margins of a large area, together with many other buildings in ruins. These buildings changed property many times and they were: a mill (reported in documents dating back to mid-1300s), a sawmill (included in 1606 public officer Zuan Alvise degli Orefici’s map) and a metallurgic industry, which operated until 1956, when the first segment of the Vivaro canal that alimented it was abandoned. Recently, this area has been occupied by bio fertilizers warehouses.

L. Zin, Il Cellina, 2, Pordenone, Consorzio di Bonifica "Cellina-Meduna", 1997.



At the end of the steep road that comes down from Montereale Valcellina, we can see a concrete revetment, one of the protection methods that can be seen along the tour. The main objective of this wall was to separate the water flow from river banks to prevent erosion or, as this is the case, from the surrounding areas. We will find other revetments like this along the trail. They were all built in the early 1950s. In some specific points of the wall (usually in protected ones), typical tiles with the fascist emblem were inserted. Due to the iconoclastic post-war rage, they were all destroyed. All except one in this particular revetment, but it is very difficult to spot because of the thick vegetation.



The grassland near the colony is the result of a levelling carried out just a few years after the post-war period to host a soccer team that later became today’s association ASD Montereale Valcellina Calcio. Initially, the locker rooms were inside the close and abandoned heliotherapy colony. During the years, the area has been renovated and new buildings have been added, such as the adjacent locker rooms, the stands, the training ground, etc. Thanks to these renovations, there has been an increase of the sporting activities, which have been moved to the new municipal sports centre just a few years ago. It is worth visiting the recent river bank protection revetment, strongly needed because of an erosion that lapped the south-eastern corner.