Monday, 21 October 2013

A Glance at Old Perarolo

The river port of Perarolo was the most northerly port on the river Piave.  Here the waters of the Piave and the Boite, a major tributary, joined so as to provide enough depth of water to support commercial rafting.  After walking through the night upstream along the right bank of the Piave from Codissago, the zattieri di Codissago would arrive at Perarolo at daybreak to begin the construction of rafts.

When commercial rafting was at its height
 Colour tinted photo from an old postcard

The photograph above shows massive quantities of timber stacked along the right bank of the Piave at Perarolo.  Water, taken from the Boite river, was conveyed through a narrow channel (centre bottom of picture) to power the mills (a sawmill and a flourmill) at the southern end of the village.  Timber was also floated to the sawmills along this channel.  It was in this region - the southern end of Perarolo - that the rafts were assembled.
The church and campanile (close by the bridge) are not the same as those described in The Door of Perarolo.  A huge landslide blocked the course of the Boite River in 1823, forming  a natural dam.  The water pressure built up behind the frana blocking the Boite until it was sufficient to rupture the dam and sweep the frana away, and with it also a significant part of Perarolo.  Fortunately, the villagers, seeing the Boite riverbed dry, had sufficient warning to evacuate the population to higher ground.  The church was rebuilt in 1863 on a new site - by the bridge - but suffered further flood damage in 1882.  More problems with earthquakes and subsidence followed, and only the choir of the old church survives to the present day.  In 1906 the aisle and façade were reconstructed in wood under the direction of the Belluno master builder Luigi Croce, whilst in the same year the old campanile was demolished and replaced by the wooden one seen in the photograph in the post ‘Links to Maps’ of 25/09/13. 

Map showing the site of the cìdolo  at Sacco
Carte e Pianta Turistiche Tobacco sheet 16

After the Austrian re-occupation of Venetia a new road, the Cavallera was built to link Vienna with Venice through the Piave valley.  It leads north out of Perarolo, zigzagging up the mountainside below Damos.  If you look at the map, you can see at the first sharp bend of the Cavallera, a road leading down to the right bank of the Piave at Sacco.

The cìdolo at Sacco

Here was sited il cìdolo, a kind of covered doorway or portcullis in the river.  Men worked inside the cìdolo sorting the logs for the sawmills of the Piave valley.

The church of Sant’Anna
Photograph © Sally Givertz 2012

The tiny church of Sant’Anna, marked in the bottom left-hand corner of the map above.  The church dates from 1580.  I have added a link under 'useful links' to the Comunità Montagna Centro Cadore website, which gives more details about the church and Perarolo in general.

Finally… a personal announcement.  Sally, my editor, and I were married on the 27th September in a small ceremony at the registry office in Banff, a few miles from Gardenstown (known as ‘Gamrie’ to locals)where we live.  Sally has photos and more – if you would like to view please follow the link ‘My editor’s blog’ to the right of this post.

Note: This blog supports readers of The Door of Perarolo, a historical novel set in Cadore, Italy in the early nineteenth century.  You may examine feedback from readers in the UK here and in the US here.  The Door of Perarolo is a Kindle ebook comprising 140 chapters.  It can be downloaded from Amazon sites worldwide.  The launch post of this blog gives further details.  The second post provides links to maps, etc.

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