Italian little Italies: Fagagna, Country of Storks

Jun 27, 2015 640

WTI Magazine #63    2015 June, 27
Author : I borghi più belli d'Italia      Translation by:

 

The Fagagna village is actually made up of seven ancient and separate suburbs that construction development put together in a single urban centre over the last decades, extending spaces of the countryside to new buildings. Like other areas in the north-east, here progress made its mark on ancient rural physiognomy as well: modern roof tiles, aluminum gates, incongruous plasterworks, internal emptying, newly constructed floors on buildings, cobblestone pavements replaced by asphalt cement.


Luckily, there is reversal of this trend, and Fagagna has also decided to rally its soul. The first step is to restore the old cobblestone pavements that will allow to combine a fascinating route connecting the village square, the castle, small rural church and arriving, through the forest, to a small military pillbox that is about to be transformed into a small museum. Even now, leaving the municipality building, you can go up towards hill where the castle is located through an old paved road (vicolo Morcjùte and via Cecconaia street).


On the top, there are Palazzo della Comunità palace, which was the administrative and judicial headquarters of the Fragagna community since the beginning of the 16th century until 1797, and the castle ruins, the oldest part of which is from the 11th century.


Going through another paved street, via Salizzada, you arrive at Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta church. It was built, perhaps on some preexisting paleochristian ruins, in the 13th century and its bell tower that shyly appears behind castle, has been watching over the village for centuries. From the church, passing along panoramic street such as via dei Tigli and via della Pieve, you arrive at a small fortified house dating to the 14th century and finally to the Museum of a farmer's life housed within Cjase Cocèl, a typical country home of Friuli of the 17th century.


Here, a long pause is mandatory because this is, perhaps, the most lively, the most real and complete museum of a farmer's daily life in Italy. All rooms from the Friulan memory are recreated; from to kitchen with its fogolâr , to the bedroom set as a barn. The smells are remarkable: those of stables signifying the presence of animals, of must because wine is being produced, of carbon in the forge, the fragrance of baked bread and flour in the mill. There are ladies making lace, those who are using a spindle, a miller, a smith and finally, a glass of wine waiting for us in the tavern.


You can re-emerge into the past, but immediately return to the present by entering a small Church of S.Leonardo (14th century) with its evanescent frescoes of the 14th century. Again, we face an ancient small path (vicolo degli Orzinutti), a pair of other streets (in via Umberto I street there is Palazzo Nigris palace(18th century) and the we arrive again at the town square. From the municipality building we now take another route, towards Borgo Paludo. Once you've passed by Asquini and Pico palaces( the first was the residence of a noble family, built in the 17th century; the other is a type of factory building, where once tobacco was treated), you arrive at the old district, where you can see Palazzo Pecile (18th century) and a line of old houses with nice main entranceways (Via Paludo and Via Lucca).


From Via Paludo you can turn back to the castle and to the church to leave, passing through a panoramic road (Daûr Glesie road) to a small pillbox from World War I and from there, following the road across open country (Riva di Cjastenêt) to Borgo Riolo, built at the end of the 16th century. Religous people may make a tour of seven churches, where five old organs can be found: in the Parish church of Madrisio there is one made by Nacchini (1752); the Comelli's, one from 1788, with its splendid inlayed keyboard made of ebony and ivory, is located in the Church of Santa Maria Assunta in Fagagna. In the Parish church of Villalta there is a "Calido" dating from 1792. Organs made by Valentino Zanin (1827) and Beniamino Zanin (1903), are, respectively, located in the churches of Ciconicco and S. Giacomo in Fagagna.


Finally, the Villalta castle is worth a visit, even if it can only be seen from the outside, because today it is privately owned. It is located in the middle of the country with its tower and walls dating from 1216, when it was mentioned for the fist time in local chronicles as the property owned by the noble family of Villaltas.


The name
The name derives from Latin word fagus, beech tree (Faganeu and then Fagagna). It refers to forests that once covered this part of Friuli.


The product
The famous Fagagna cheese is the real heir of the tradition of dairy manufacturing. The farmers cooperative for dairy products, established in 1885, was the first of its kind in Friuli. Today, there are two cheese factories that still continue to guarantee the quality of cheese produced by raw, not pasteurized milk, with an unmistakable taste thanks to herbs that can be found in hay collected in the fields around Fagagna.


The recipe
Pig trading was developed in Fagagna during the times of Napoleon. Here, we are a few kilometers away from San Daniele, where the air coming down from the Alps region joins that coming from the Adriatic Sea. Combined these make a balm for hams. So ham is dominant in the region, with its traditional recipes: brovada e muset (white sour turnip and cotechino), cabbage, sausages etc. Many dishes are based on polenta and Fagagna cheese and on pestât (lards with vegetables and aromas) that is served with pot roast or bean soup.

Particular Fagagna's dish is also one based on goose meat, cooked in an old restored rural house. And, of course, not to be forgotten, wines: especially the rare Picolit, the production of which began here in 1761 by Count Asquini (not long ago vineyards were planted within castle walls). This is a land of taverns, where people socialize with pleasure, accompanied by a glass of wine, things rarely seen in pubs or fast food restaurants.

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