Portobuffole: The Home of Gaia.

Portobuffole
Portobuffole

The visitor enters Portobuffolè from the bridge that once led to Porta Trevisana, destroyed in 1918, and immediately finds himself in the small cobblestone Piazza Beccaro, surrounded by lovely palaces.

Cà Soler´s elegant façade faced a channel which is now underground.

Another construction bears remains of frescoes attributed to Pordenone.  From the piazza the visitor soon reaches Casa Gaia, a splendid 14th-century residence in which the famous and controversial Gaia da Camino lived until her death in 1311.  It was she who transformed what was a tower house into a small palace.  The façade is refined by double lancet windows enhanced with slender, elegant columns topped by lotus flower capitals.  The frescoes preserved on the first floor speak of a courtly atmosphere which, between one war and another, bestowed some serenity on the small courtyard overlooking the peaceful Livenza.  The songs of the troubadours and minstrels, loved by Gaia who delighted in Provençal poetry, seem to resound in these frescoed rooms.

Portobuffole
Portobuffole

Cultural figures of that time peep out from the interior walls of Casa Gaia: a small prince accompanied by a servant, curved under the weight of an enormous tome and six young warriors clothed in finely embroidered armor.  A castle is also visible, perhaps that of Portobuffolè itself, and some maintain that the two barely sketched characters are the masters of the house, Tolberto and Gaia.  The second floor frescoes depict fortified cities, drawbridges, towers and palaces, pages in friendly conversation: enough to revive our medieval imagination.

The 10th-century Municipal Tower is the last that remains of the castle´s seven ancient towers.  Constructed in brick, it is 28 meters high. The clock contained the opening from which the condemned were lowered into the prison beneath. The building at the foot of the tower was once the Palazzo del Governo (government building) and still bears the writing, between two oval windows: “made from the foundations 9 March 1187″. Above the door of the Monte di Pietà (pawnbroker), founded in the 16th century by the Venetians, there is a rare example of  a leon in moeca, the lion with the terrifying appearance which was used as a symbol of war.

The Lion of San Marco also dominates in Piazza Maggiore: the public offices and the residences of the most important families were located here.

Portobuffole
Portobuffole

The Casa Comunale presents a wide loggia and elegant oval-arched windows. The large hall, called “Fontego”, was used to store the grains and salt that from here were sent off to various parts of the Veneto region. The façade bears 16th-century escutcheons and inscriptions of the podestàs. Before becoming a Christian church, the Duomo was a Jewish synagogue. Consecrated in 1559 and restored numerous times both inside and out, it houses a 15th-century wooden crucifix by the German school, a remarkable wooden altar in red walnut, work of a local artist (1983), and a splendid organ by the Venetian organ-maker Callido, with 472 zinc and tin pipes, bought in 1780 for the considerable sum of more than 4000 Venetian gold liras. Restoration works on the ex-home of the Arch-synagogue, next to the Duomo, brought to light a stone with a Jewish menorah and some letters of the Jewish alphabet.

From the piazza the visitor reaches the Toresin and Porta Friuli, where a Lion of San Marco is enthroned over the external arch, extolling the “rights and duties of man and citizens”, a clear sign of the passage of the French Revolution.

Ponte Friuli, constructed of pietra cotta stone in 1780 to replace the wooden drawbridge, has two large archways and is flanked by six elegant balconies.  The Livenza once flowed here.

Outside the village, the Church of San Rocco is worth visiting with its Madonna della Seggiola, a wooden sculpture dated 1524; Palazzo Giustinian, built in 1695 by the noble Venetian Cellini family and later property of the Giustinians; the Oratory of Santa Teresa, erected by the Cellini, rich in stucco-work and frescoes; and finally the Church dei Servi, consecrated in 1505.

Gnocchetti al sugo d’anitra – Photo Elena Zibaldone Culinario
Gnocchetti al sugo d’anitra – Photo Elena Zibaldone Culinario

The local products

The red wines of the Alto Livenza zone, honey, squash.

The local dishes

Gnocchetti with duck sauce, veal kidney, risotto with pigeon, dried salted cod, tripe and rustic dishes like zuppa matta (crazy soup), made with pumpkin, bread, milk and mushrooms.

The most beautiful villages in Veneto