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» Foza

Municipality of Foza on the Asiago Plateau

Comune di Foza

Foza, one of the oldest municipalities in the Plateau, arose due to its proximity to the Brenta river,a river port for the timber trade with the Venetian cities and Venice.

The origin of Foza is very obscure, as is that of the other municipalities of the Plateau. It is certain, however, that the inhabitants of Foza were in close contact with the Germanic populations,as evidenced by habits, customs and traditions, physical characteristics and above all the spoken language(cimbro).

Background

The first news about Foza appears in a document of 1085 "montem unum integrum qui vocatur Fugia", which was donated by the noblewoman Ermiza, daughter of Berengar, to the monastery of Villanova di Camposanpiero, a monastery one with that of St. Florian to which was entrusted the right bank of the Brenta, including Foza.

On July 3, 1127 Foza came under the jurisdiction of the monks of Campese who became its owners. On July 17, 1133 the Bishop of Padua and Belluno ceded to the abbot of the monastery of Mantua, and therefore of Campese, all the temporary rights due to the bishopric. In 1190 the entire Plateau was usurped by the Ezzelini family which became very powerful and fierce. In 1202 Ezzelino the Monk sold Foza for 1000 Veronese Lire to the monks of Campese. Foza remained attached to the monks in a close civil and religious relationship until 1700.

The mountain men descended along the valleys and went to the monastery with honey, meat in salt, cheese and money from the rent of Monte Miela. The friars, in turn, took care of souls by raising to Foza some of their representatives chosen from those who knew the German language. While the power of the Ezzelini became more and more tinged creating discontent and mistrust, in Vicenza the municipality with democratic systems stood and the entire Plateau subsoted to it and in 1250 Foza was appointed Villa.

It was at this time that the mountain municipalities felt the need to unite with each other, so much so that in 1250 the documents bear the name "Plateau of the Seven Municipalities".

In 1264, Cangrande della Scala,after exterminating the Ezzelini family, subdued the Republic of Vicenza and thus also subdued the Plateau. Representatives of the Seven Municipalities rushed to present their draft independence.

Panorama dalla Croce di San Francesco
Panorama from the Cross of St. Francis

In 1310 he founded theRegency of the Seven Municipalities. The statute was proclaimed on June 29 of that year: "The good of the people is the good of government, and the good of government is the good of the people."

Fourteen Regents were chosen to form this administration,two for each country. During the Vicinie or Assemblies of the heads of families, the most important decisions were taken especially for the management of Mount Miela community heritage. Thus were born the "Rules", later called "Civic Uses".

The Regency had a small army of 700 men who became nearly 4000 in wartime. He had diplomats in Venice, Verona and Padua and even in Vienna. In addition, each municipality of the Regency had its own coat of arms.

The Regency came under the tutelage of the Scaligeri of Verona from 1311 to 1387, of the Visconti from 1388 to 1404 and of the Serenissima Republic from 1404 until the Treaty of Campoformio of 1797, which ceded to Austriathe territories of the Venetian Republic.

In exchange for protection, the municipalities provided timber to the Serenissima.

A very important date for Foza was 27 August 1478, when the Prior of the monastery of Santa Croce di Campese, Ambrose of Milan, donated to Foza all the possessions purchased by Ezzelino the Monk back in 1202, also indicating its borders.

At this time the economy of Foza and the other countries of the Plateau was not flourishing, so much so that the Venetian Republic exempted the Seven Municipalities from the tax of salt, wool and brenta river rates. Their predominant activity continued to be that of pastoralism,although, thanks to the cutting of the woods, they began to produce coal.

Malga Montagnanova
Malga Montagnanova

The regency of the Seven Municipalities ceased to exist definitively in 1806. Then, in 1815 with the Kingdom of Lombardy-Veneto, the Plateau passed directly under Austria. In 1866, when Veneto was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy,Foza, which was on the border with the Habsburg Empire, favored the smuggling of some products (sugar, ebb and wine).

In the last decades of the nineteenth century the economic and social balance of the entire Plateau became increasingly difficult and precarious. The only outlet wasemigration.

The economic situation improved slightly in the early twentieth century thanks to the new development offered by public works with the construction of the Foza-Gallio (1908-1911), Foza-Lazzaretti (1912-1913), and Foza-Enego (1914) roads.

With the Great War there was a turning point in trade and the works were directed to works of fortification of borders and for war purposes. Fozesi emigrants returned from Germany found work for the short time separating them from the call to arms. With the outbreak of hostilities Foza and the Plateau were in danger: the inhabitants were forced to go refugees and Foza became the scene of war from the beginning to the end of the conflict.

Our mountains for their strategic points were at the center of the fighting: everywhere there were trenches, tunnels, hiding places. Foza was bombed and destroyed.

After the war, the refugees returned to Foza, but there was only a cluster of ruins left of the country; temporarily the centre was rebuilt with wooden shacks at Labental. The mountains were bare, the woods mowed, the fields riddled, everywhere were scattered ordnance that could explode.

The only source of livelihood for families increasingly numerous was the cultivation of the fields and reconstruction work.

Foza, however, did not give up: houses, stables and houses were rebuilt; sheep, goats and cows returned, the fields were cleared, the woods cleared. On August 15, 1926, the parish church was also inaugurated.

After the war in Foza was also born the dangerous work of recovering all the war material: men, women and boys dug the ground and collected iron. This activity continued until the end of the 1950s and unfortunately also led to the loss of life.

Croce di San Francesco
Cross of St. Francis

As soon as opportunities for cross-border work opened up, Foza's men left, some with the whole family.

The Second World War brought with it, even in Foza, bereaveves, hunger and misery. Many young people had to leave on several fronts and, in the crucial period, Foza witnessed reprisals between fascists and partisans.

At the end of thewar, agricultural and forestry activity remained the only economic resource. Slowly a decent form of tourism also began.

After the 1950s,emigration resumed and so many crossed the border mainly to Switzerland, the great cities of northern Italy (Milan, Turin, Varese) and the Vicenza plain. This meant that until 1970 Foza witnessed a real displacement. Residents of Foza, which in 1950 numbered 1724, became only 893 in 1970.

Malga Lora
Malga Lora

Meanwhile the connecting roads were paved, agriculture became modern and pastoralism disappeared for good.

In 1970 the phenomenon of emigration slowed down decisively and the Fozesi began to commute. This led to continuous economic and social improvement:the country was shortened, farms were modernised, tourism increased and family-run trade activities were born, offering work mainly to women. However, at the end of the 1990s, almost all these activities had to close and agriculture also slowed down sharply. So many foza inhabitants had to roll up their sleeves and many had to look for work in neighboring countries and bassanese.

 

TRADITIONS AND CULTURE

Foza Sheep

Foza is a small town in thePlateau of the Seven Municipalities that has been part of the Spectacular Regency of the Seven Municipalities since its inception.

For centuries there has been aneconomic economy of an agro-forestry-pastoral type. Soon foza's shepherds were able to select a breed of sheep with long wool,suitable for weaving. This breed took the name of the country and spread to such an extent that it was identified as 'Vicenza sheep'. Pastoralism became the main activity of these people, who also continued to cultivate the land as well as to cut and sell wood.

Faced with the risk of losing the memory of a past rich in history, the Municipal Administration has embarked on a path aimed at safeguarding what has characterized this community. In the belief that pastoralism remains linked to the territory, it participates in a collective effort, supported by a precise project that aims to save from extinction the last remaining Foza purebred sheep. It involved the Veneto Region, the University of Padua and other bodies.

Facciata Museo Etnografico della Comunità di Foza
Ethnographic Museum of the Community of Foza

In recent years, many initiatives have been courageously taken in the country, including a Section dedicated to Pastoralismin the local Museum, the competition "Oobart the sheep of Foza becomes art", the annual day of the works of wool in the square, which has become the VÜSCHE ÖOBA - Foza Sheep Festival (now always organized on a fixed date on the last Sunday of August), enriched from 2019 also by a further event such as the "Street Food" dedicated to foza sheep on the last Saturday of August, in collaboration with foza merchants and accommodation facilities. In particular, the VÜSCHE ÖOBA - Foza Sheep Festival is proposed year after year as a highlight of the programming of the Summer Events, attractivenessof sustainable tourism,linked to the rediscovery of the traditions and typicality of the territory.

In order to offer citizens and guests a complete offer, both from a historical-cultural and food and wine point of view and by networking the economic categories of the territory, the VÜSCHE ÖOBA - Foza Sheep Festival is accompanied by a market of typical local products (Foza capital, via Roma), with particular reference to mountain products and dairy products deriving from sheep breeding,and tastings and themed menusin restaurants in the country.

In addition, since the beginning of the year 2019, Foza has been a partner of the "Sheep up"project, funded by the Veneto Region in order to repopulate four sheep breeds native to the territory, and which includes subjects such as researchers from the University of Padua, other administrations and breeders. It should also be remembered that at Malga Slapeur,one of the eight municipal huts of Foza, an excellent pecorino cheese is produced.

Five-Year Feast of the Assumption

"It was the year 1836 and cholera was raging in veneto. In the neighboring villages of the Valley, but also in those of the Plateau, death knocked on the doors of houses every other day. In such circumstances it was normal for the panicked community of Foza to also look up and seek escape in his Madonna and the community, the story says, was prodigiously spared from the disaster. In gratitude, he promised to celebrate Our Lady, bearing every five years the ancient image from the parish church to the oratory of St. Francis. The first solemn votive procession took place, according to the documents of history, on September 10, 1837. Since then, five years on, faithful to their commitment to devotion to the Assumption, the Fozesi will not fail to honor their heavenly Mother, in a now traditional setting of events even external, increasingly alive and engaging".

Text taken from "Foza, una comunità, una storia" by Franco Signori Organizzazione, in collaboration with the Parish of S. Maria Assunta di Foza, the local associations and economic categories, on the traditional Festival every five years,accompanied by a large calendar of cultural and recreational events that illustrate its origin and meaning.

The last five-year festival was celebrated on Sunday, August 21, 2016. The celebration of the Five Years scheduled for August 15, 2021 has, however, been postponed due to the Covid 19 pandemic to August 15 following its cessation.

Cartello La Festa e la pala dell'Assunta
The Feast and the Altarpiece of the Assumption

Corone del Monte Fior, Excursion between Landscape and Nature

Corone Monte Fior
Crowns Monte Fior

Magical and fascinating rock formation located in the malghe area of the territory. Reachable with a pleasantexcursion, both on foot and by mountain bike, both from Foza and Gallio. Opportunity to enjoy the landscape, flora and fauna typical of the area (marmots, roe deer,...).

The Altarpiece by Francesco Bassano Il Vecchio

The parish church was inaugurated in 1926, after two years of work, and was dedicated to S. Maria Assunta,the patron saint of the town. In 1927 the 34-meter-high bell tower was also completed. Both were built with white marble stones extracted in Futa and later hand-worked.

The Church is very simple in the style that approaches the Romanesque one. Inside it has three naves separated from each other by a row of circular columns, all of which are hand-rejected stone. There are three altars: those on the sides are one with the statue of our Lady of the Assumption and the other with that of the Sacred Heart.

Very beautiful is the wooden coffered ceiling painted in large red and blue paintings, arranged on a checkerboard and separated from each other by embossed frames.

In 2006 the church was renovated with new paintings.

Inside, in the presbytery, is preserved the valuable Altarpiece with the "Madonna enthroned with the Child and Saints John the Evangelist and Benedict" (compatrono of Foza), attributed to Francesco Da Ponte the Elder (called Bassano), work of 1519 and full expression of the figurative art of the sixteenth century Veneto. The Pala is foza's most noteworthy work of art and has survived the destruction of the Great War. The work is fully in the context of several sacred works of art made by da Ponte (also called Bassano), a family of painters originally from Bassano del Grappa and operating throughout the sixteenth century, and widely present in the parish churches of the countries of the Asiago Plateau, Valbrenta and the foothills of the Plateau and Grappa.

POINTS OF INTEREST

MECF, Ethnographic Museum of the Community of Foza

MECF, Ethnographic Museum of the Community of Foza,is a center for the dissemination, documentation and transmission of local history, culture and traditions.

Ingresso MECF, Museo Etnografico della Comunità di Foza
MECF Entrance, Ethnographic Museum of the Community of Foza

The building that now houses it is the symbol of the reconstruction that took place after the Great War and was for a long time the seat of the Town Hall of Foza.

Disused, following the move of the town hall, the property fell into a state of abandonment until 2004, the year in which it was decided to recover the structure and return it to the community with a new use, the museum one. Restoration work was completed in 2009.

The MECF houses two sections:on the second floor the section on the First World War,while on the first floor the section dedicated to pastoralism and in particular to foza sheep.

The Ethnographic Museum of the Community of Foza also hosts itinerant exhibitions of a historical-artistic-cultural nature, literary meetings and meetings of intellectuals, historians and researchers.

Aula didattica San Francesco
Teaching Room San Francesco

It also organizes multiple training and educational activities,accompanied by guided tours structured by age group and level of education, thus also becoming a strong point of attraction for the educational institutions of the Altopianese and Vicenza area.

THE SECTION ON WORLD WAR I

The exhibition on the Great War is full of testimonies of the time, arranged along an exhibition path that makes it possible not only to understand the difficulties faced by the population of Foza in the war period and the suffering suffered by the soldiers, but also to reconstruct the fighting that took place in the area, understand the extent of the destruction suffered by the country and follow its subsequent reconstruction.

In this section particular attention is also given to the risky work of the so-called "recoverers", that is, those who, after the war, went to the places where the fighting was raging, recovering remnants of war and then reselling them as scrap metal.

The narration takes place not only through traditional finds and testimonies (texts, vintage photographs, etc.), but also through more modern technological tools such as monitors and a large touch screen table, which make the visiting experience more alive and engaging.

FOZA SHEEP EXHIBITION

The permanent exhibition dedicated to Foza Sheep, realized in 2013, is designed as an itinerary to discover pastoralism, which has represented for centuries the main activity of the locals.

Through photographic documentation and objects of the trade we tell the story of the shepherds of Foza, who selected a unique breed of sheep: the Fodata Sheep or Foza,also known as the Vicenza sheep or the Seven Municipalities,known until the middle of the twentieth century for the fine quality of its wool, so much so that it made the fortune of the lanifici of the Pedemontana.

Today it is a breed at risk of extinction and it is only thanks to the passion and will of some farmers and locals that it has been possible to preserve its species.

Confidential reproduction.

San Francesco, Walk between Tradition and Panoramas

Castelgomberto, Excursion between Panoramas and History

Castelgomberto
Castelgomberto, 10

Reachable by excursion,both on foot and by mountain bike, both from Foza and Gallio, and an opportunity to retrace the trenches and walkways of the First Great World War

Malghe Accessible by LocALItà Lazzaretti di Foza, Gallio Via le Melette or Enego Via the Piana di Marcesina

NAME MALGHEALTITUDE MALGHE TYPELOADNOTES
REFUGE RONCHETTO1330 s.l.m.restaurant
RONCHETTO MALGA1330 s.l.m.cattleNEXT OPENING CHEESE PRODUCTION AND SALE
FRIARS1366 s.l.m.cattleagritourism
Zomo1460 s.l.m.cattle
Lora1668 s.l.m.cattle
MELETTA, IA.1707 s.l.m.cattle
M.NOVA, 19991724 s.l.m.sheep
SLAPEUR, 191638 s.l.m.sheepCHEESE PRODUCTION AND SALE
RED STONE1196 s.l.m.cattleNEXT FARM OPENING
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