Asiago history and people

Photo © www.cimbri.it/
Photo © www.cimbri.it/

The ancient people of Sette Comuni

The rupestrian inscriptions in the “Assa Valley” of Canove di Roana and the remains of the Paleovenetian village Bostel in Rotzo tell us about the ancient human presence in these mountains. Physical characteristics, rites, uses, and the ancient language of these people together with their mythology show Nordic if not Bavarian origins.

The “Cimbri” people colonized this land many centuries ago.

From 1310 to 1807 the “Altopiano” formed an indpendent state known as the “Honourable Regency of the 7 Communes”, one of the first confederations that ever existed.

It was allied with the “Most Serene Republic of Venice” with whom they traded.

The First World War marked this land indelibly, ist scars are still visible on the ground.

Nowadays the “Altopiano of Asiago 7 Comuni” is one of the most reknowned touristic resorts in Europe and can accomodate tens of Thousands of people every year. With the increasing annual tourism we are constantly working towards greater tourist satisfaction.

Cimbri – Photo © www.lindipendenza.com/
Cimbri – Photo © www.lindipendenza.com/

The Cimbrian Language

Cimbrian is a word that has been used a little bit improperly in the last few centuries to indicate a language spoken in seven ‘Comuni’ of Vicenza and in thirteen ‘Comuni’ of Verona.
It is a language which connects itself to Old Bavarian and Old German, a language which has miraculously survived in the Venetian Hills, protected by the territorial isolation and an age-old economy of subsistence. Unfourtunately this dialect is slowly dying out. Nowadays, especially in Rotzo, Mezzaselva and Roana we only find a few people who still use it currently. There are a few words very similar to German who are still regularly used : rach (moss), rasetle (wren), loch (hole), tanna (White-Deal), tal (valley), grabo (pit).
Of Cimbrian origin are also the numerous placenames (Barenthal, Tanzerloch, Odegar), and nicknames which accompany the traditional names of the families of the Altopiano.
Of the Cimbrian Culture not only the language remains, but also a rich heritage of traditions connected to the everyday life of the people and their imagination : songs and fables which describe a legendary world.
The very few written texts which exist, proof of the use of the Cimbrian language, are preserved in the Museo della Cultura Cimbra in Roana and was promoted by the ‘Istituto di Cultura Cimbra’.

Asiago: Traditions, folklore and legends of the altopiano

THE GREAT ASIAGO ROGATION
It takes place every year the day preceding Ascension Day.
It is also called “Il Giro del Mondo”.
Walking for a whole day from 6am to 7pm, you go along the perimeter of the parish territory (over 30 km), through pastures and woods, along roads and tracks, praying and singing old litanies.
It is the repetition of the antique rite of the ceremonial processions asking for a good harvest.
After 1638 it became a sign of thanksgiving for having survived the scourge of the plague.

THE FOZA QUINQUENNIAL FEASTS
They are the votive celebrations in honour of the Virgin Mary. The first procession dates back to 1837, as a sign of gratitude to the Madonna for having saved the population from cholera.
Since then, every five years, the people from Foza do not forget to honour the Heavenly Mother with traditional festivals.
Three days before the image of the Madonna is taken down from its niche to enthrone her on the cart next to the high altar. On the day before the feast (usually the Sunday following 15th August) people gather in the main square and enter the church for the night wake. At dawn the Holy Mass. At seven o’clock the procession leaves the church and goes to the S. Francesco Oratory.
Here the solemn Mass and then the return, always in procession, to the parish, where the sung Mass takes place.

THE HOLY MASS IN CIMBRIAN
With beautiful songs and readings in the antique language, it is celebrated in the Mezzaselva church on Easter Monday.

FEAST OF THE PRUNNO
It takes place on the feast of S. Rocco, 16th August, and it is dedicated to the tourists.
In the afternoon at the Prunno, a green amphitheatre in the middle of the woods at about two kilometers from Asiago, on the road to Bassano del Grappa, a number of games are organised.
Towards evening the election of the “Queen of the Wood” and of the ladies in waiting.
At dusk a characteristic parade through the roads of the center.
At the end a fireworks display.

FEAST OF THE POTATO
On the first Sunday of September every year at Rotzo there are rich trappings of cultural and musical festivals.
It is the only initiative which exploits one of the typical products of our earth.
A well-supplied gastronomic stand offers the tasting of potato dishes.

FESTIVAL OF THE CUCHI
The 25th of April at Canove in S. Marco’s honour, also called ‘festival of the popular whistle’.
The terra-cotta whistles can be bought at the numerous stalls.
Roundabouts and amusements are present.

Not only cheese Photo © www.altacucinasociety.com
Not only cheese Photo © www.altacucinasociety.com

Typical products Not Only Cheese

Asiago is known worldwide for the excellent quality of its cheese and, as a matter of fact, it also ended up at the table of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The ‘Malgas’ acattered along the Altopiano, the small dairies and the ‘Consorzio’ (cooperative) among the dairies of the Altopiano produce many different types of cheese : the ‘Asiago pressato o fresco’ (pressed or fresh cheese), the ‘Dolcezza di Asiago’ a (soft cheese), the ‘Pennarone’ just to name a few of the most important ones.

Honey of a very delicate flavor is also produced on the Altopiano. This is because the honey is extracted from flowers and plants typical of these mountains.

Very delicious is the potato from Rotzo, known all over Europe, it is traditionally grown on the western part of this land.

Of very good quality is also the celery grown in Rubbio, a hamlet of Conco.

Some of the farms produce local cold meats, salami and sausages : speck (a kind of smoked ham), crudo (ham), sopressa (a type of salami), pancetta (bacon) and others.

The distillates that are obtained with the herbs of the Sette Comuni are : Krumetto, Amaro Asiago, Amaro Cimbro, Kranebet and various types of grappas.

From a secret recipe of a confectioner’s shop of Asiago we have the ‘Torta Ortigara’ (a typical cake).

Remember that apart from food products the Altopiano also exports the famous red and white marble of Asiago.
Courtesy of the Asiago Official Tourist Board

Where to stay in Asiago

There are hotels, apartments, villas and B&Bs available, check it out and make a reservation here.