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Cellina River Stories between Ravedis and Partidor

6 - Pellegrin

The place where Antonio Dell'Angelo, known as “Pellegrin,” started his endeavour: bringing water from the Cellina river to the village of San Leonardo.





Looking at the slope, next to the information pillar, we can see one of the traces of the Aviano canal and what is left of the cobblestone revetment on the left bank. This is a very ancient canal: it was built on 7 June 1445, when the nobleman and hydraulics expert Nicolò di Maniago was granted from La Serenissima (the Republic of Venice) “…permission and authority to bring some water of the Cellina river to the territory and places of Gastaldia of Aviano, by building some canals in those territories…” Moreover, him and his heirs were granted the exclusive right to exploit said water. In just five years, following Nicolò’s project, a 22-kilometre long canal was dug. From the Cellina river it reached the Artugna river in Castello di Aviano, crossing the country land of San Leonardo, San Martino, Marsure, Aviano and Villotta. The canal boosted the economic development of this territory: as a matter of fact, 17 plants were built along the canal: mills, hammer mills, sawmills and fulling mills (inserted in public officer Francesco Pasiani’s map in 1783). Some of these factories have been productive for most of the 1900s. The canal brought water also to a network of canals aimed at field irrigation and improved the population’s quality of life, bringing clean water to houses for everyday needs.
The segments of the canal under the exploiting rights were progressively reduced. Nevertheless, the noblemen di Maniago and then the Valvason-Corbelli exploited it until 1782. Later, La Serenissima granted these rights to the Venetian patrician family Correr.
The Aviano canal endured progress until the early 70s, when the Consorzio di Bonifica Cellina Meduna decided to abandon it.

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



The memorial stone next to the information pillar shows the starting point of the canal dug by Antonio Dell’Angelo, known as “Pellegrin,” between 1835 and 1837. Pellegrin had the idea of using the Aviano canal to bring clean water to his hometown, San Leonardo Valcellina, once known as “San Leonardo di Campagna.” Before that, the small community drew water from a little putrid and stagnant artificial lake in the square of the village. The water of the lake came from rain water. Otherwise, people had to travel long distances by carriages to draw water from the Aviano canal or from the Cellina river and bring it back in barrels. The uniqueness of this canal stands in that Pellegrin dug it all by himself. In fact, his fellow countrymen made fun of him because they believed it was impossible to overcome the stream gradient, so they decided not to help him. Other exceptional aspects of this canal are that it is 4-kilometre long and that it served the community for 68 years, from 1837 to 1905. In 1905, the canal was replaced by the more efficient drainage ditch of the Malnisio Hydroelectric Power Plant that crossed the village.
M.G.B. Altan, San Leonardo Valcellina. Storia, cultura e vita sociale di una comunità, Udine, Arti Grafiche Friulane, 1993.
E. Bertossi, Una storia, Bazzano Valsamoggia, Artebambini, 2017.
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.
L. Zin, Il Cellina, 2, Pordenone, Consorzio di Bonifica "Cellina-Meduna", 1997.



Its main purpose was to drive off the strong flow from the river bank and, as the previous ones, to protect buildings and works downstream. Basically, the construction of the Ravedis dam has changed the Cellina river water flow, thus making these revetments dating back to the first half of the 1900s useless. 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, but their spots are still visible.