The colors and fl avors of the land

Just a few kilometres from Udine, on the left bank of the River Torre, sits Buttrio, a locality immersed in the greenery of the surrounding vineyards. The hilly area of the Municipality of Buttrio is part of the complex which stretches from the Rivolo, a stream which crosses the entire municipal territory, right to the banks of the River Natisone. The whole group of hills originated in the Eocene period; their formation dates back 35-40 million years, when the area was a peaceful saltwater lagoon full of sea urchins, fossils of which can still be found today. Nowadays the hills of the Municipality, mostly cultivated with vineyards, are still covered with woods populated by robinia and chestnut trees and the occasional rare Holm oak and boxwood tree. The discovery of numerous fl int tools dating back to the Neolithic period bears witness to the presence of prehistoric man on these hilly slopes. Recent archaeological investigations have shown that the area was also inhabited in the protohistoric age, as proven by numerous fi nds which can be dated between the late bronze age (1150-900 BC) and the early iron age (900-700 BC) and came to the light on the castle hill, which, thanks to its strategic, dominating position over the countryside of Aquileia and that of Cividale, housed a watchtower in Roman times. Settlements of rustic villas belonging to Roman farmers must have been situated on the plain near the banks of the River Torre and near the Rivolo on the hill now occupied by the medieval church of Santo Stefano, and a sheet of Roman mosaic fl oor was found during the latest renovation of the church. According to tradition, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Longbard king Alboino used the area as grazing land for his horses. The fi rst written records which refer to Buttrio date back to around the year 1000, when the name Butrium was mentioned for the fi rst time, and it is likely that there was a castle at the top of the aforementioned hill which overlooks the village. Later, after the arrival of the German aristocracy in Friuli, Buttrio castle was mentioned with the German name of Haumberg. The number of written documents increased as of 1219, when the powerful lords of Buttrio rose up against the patriarch of Aquileia, joining forces with the town of Treviso. The most violent event in the castle’s history took place on the night of February 10th 1306, when Nicol˜ di Buttrio, having been banished a year earlier by his cousins, broke into the castle with the support of the Counts of Gorizia and laid waste to the whole village and those nearby. After being regained by the patriarchal troops, the castle was destroyed. Over the years that followed it was rebuilt and demolished on numerous occasions, constantly fought over by the Patriarchal system and the County of Gorizia, until it fi nally fell into ruin in the middle of the 15th century. Today nothing remains of the ancient fortress other than the 14th century castle church devoted to Saints Gervasio and Protasio (open to visitors), while the existing aristocratic construction known as Villa Morpurgo, built in the 18th century, is characterised by turrets in the romantic style typical of the late 19th century. In the centuries that followed, the municipal territory, dominated by the Serene Republic of Venice, like many other towns in Friuli, suff ered the violet incursions of the Turks.

In 1815 Friuli became one of the Austrian provinces of the Lombardo-Veneto kingdom; in 1866 Buttrio passed under Italian rule and, during the 20th century, suff ered the loss and sacrifi ce of many of its inhabitants in the two world wars. Buttrio is home to great wines and is well known as the hilly area of Friuli with an age-old vocation for the cultivation of vines. In recent years the evolution of the sector has been considerable in terms of quality; with patience and devotion, the winegrowers have off ered proof of their passion, producing excellent quality wines which have enabled them to make themselves a name on the huge international market. The wine production of the producer Buttrio includes all red and white wines qualities, which the tourist and the enthusiast will discover in the cellars on the municipal territory. However, for a number of years the name of Buttrio has been indissolubly linked to the NATIVE wines of our region. In fact, since 2010 the historic Regional Wine Fair - one of the oldest wine events in Italy (the fi rst goes back to 1932) - has been dedicated to recognising and promoting only wines from the native grape varieties of Friuli Venezia Giulia, and it is the ideal opportunity to showcase the quality that only typical and unique products can boast. The cultivation, protection and rediscovery of indigenous vines is increasingly being undertaken with a view to creating quality products of local denomination. Italy boasts the highest number of wine varieties in the world, and the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia in turn provides many varieties of local wines, some already known and others waiting to be discovered. And so at Buttrio, when the curious and the enthusiastic approach the tasting table they will discover the celebrated Tocai Friulano, Verduzzo, Malvasia, Ribolla gialla, Picolit, Refosco, Terrano and the less well known Vitovska, Pignolo Schiopettino, to name just a few. The event is held in the fi rst few days of June in the beautiful setting of Villa Di Toppo Florio, with its ancient archaeological-botanical park. The same villa is also home to the Wine Civilisation Museum set up by the Municipal Council of Buttrio in 1998. It represents a dutiful act of recognition and exploitation of that age-old winemaking vocation and tradition which characterises the municipality territory between the two famous DOC areas: “Colli orientali del Friuli” and “Friuli Grave”. The museum, which recovers the ancient material culture of cultivating vines and winemaking, proposes evidence which would otherwise be cancelled by new technologies. Also worth visiting in the area surrounding the villa, are the precious park which, with its exotic plants, is a rare example of a romantic English garden, rich in archaeological fi nds from Aquileia belonging to the Toppo collection.

The local presence of art and curiosities suggest visits to the Parish Church of Santa Maria Assunta and its bell tower, with its original upturned clock face, and to the church of Santo Stefano and Villa Caimo-Dragoni, as well as to the area of Vicinale, with the church of San Michele and to Camino, with the church of San Giacomo and Casa Linussio.