Culture, traditions, tourism

There is some doubt about the origin of the place-name “Premariacco”: some scholars believe that the suffix “acco” is common to those areas of Friuli where there was a strong Celtic influence while others believe that the term is of Latin origin and connected to the name of a local landowner.

The origins of Premariacco are associated with the foundation of various fortified settlements in the area, datable to the fi rst millennium b.C. The progressive expansion of the Romans which led to the foundation of Aquileia in 181 b.C., very soon resulted in the creation of dense network of roads connecting the area northwards and eastwards. The territory of Premariacco was crossed by two roads in particular: one running north-south along the left bank of the Natisone and the other coming from the south-west and continuing along the right bank of the river towards the Forum Iulii. The existence of the river, the presence of the roads and the vicinity of the Forum Iulii encouraged the development of various residential nucleuses where the Roman colonists and landowners settled and influenced all the areas around Premariacco where Roman and Lombard tombs are frequently found. Tradition has it that several important fi gures were born in Premariacco: the fi rst of these in chronological order was Cornelius Gallus, the Latin warrior, poet and man of letters who lived at the beginning of the Christian era; supporting such theory is the existence of a family of the same name and the discovery of the family crypt in the “tombagial” area. The arrival of the Lombards led to the repopulation of our territory and left many traces, the VIII century was characterised by a ferment of culture and greatness. With the end of the Lombard dominion following defeat by Charlemagne’s Franks in 774, St. Paulinus, the second important and great figure native to Premariacco, was elected Patriarch of Aquileia. He was a highly eminent figure and adviser to Charlemagne as well as the Pope’s representative at the Council of Acquisgrana. Among the important works of St. Paulinus was the declaration of the indissolubility of marriage, the introduction of the sign of the cross, the definition of doctrine regarding the Holy Trinity and the battle against heresy.

Between 1340 and 1350 another famous figure was born in Premariacco: Fiore dei Liberi, the fencing master and father of formal fencing. In fact in 1409 he wrote the Flos duellatorum, for the Lords of Ferrara, the first treatise on the art of fencing and initially composed mainly of drawings; he was, almost certainly, the inventor of the “foil”, the weapon which in his honour is shown on the town’s coat of arms. In the second half of the century Premariacco was struck by a serious demographic and agricultural crisis, with half of the farmed land being abandoned. It was in this period and precisely in 1567 that the original nucleus of the Rocca Bernarda estate was built. The Nobleman’s complex was composed of two separate structures: the patrician mansion with noble chapel dedicated to Saint Bernard and the annexed rural buildings situated on a lower plain and constituting the first example in Friuli of the villa castle. From here the land began to be reclaimed and replanted with the “piccolitto” and ribolla vines.

During the first world war Premariacco had remained at the rear of the second Italian Army until the “defeat of Caporetto”, after which it was occupied until the end of the war. Only the war succeeded in interrupting the mass emigration and by 1929 the towns of Ipplis and Orsaria had ceased to exist, to the advantage of Premariacco.From the summer of 1941 to the autumn of 1943 a prison camp was set up in the village of S. Martino (also called Campo Marzio), immediately to the north of Borgo S. Mauro, where mainly English, Australian and New Zealand prisoners captured on the North African front were held. Visible traces of their stay remain: the church of S. Martino, the extension built by the Catholic prisoners of the tiny XV century church; the foundations of several sheds and lodgings; the surrounding houses, built on the foundations of some of the buildings in the camp and subsequently adapted and enlarged. Around the mid-Fifties, the division of Europe into opposing factions consequent to the end of the war saw the creation of the defensive “iron curtain” which affected the local territory too.

The garrison for the fortification works was the 120th Infantry front line battalion “Fornovo”, based in Ipplis. The area it was responsible for included the entire area east of the river Natisone. The destruction of the Communist-Soviet block and the dissolution of the Warsaw pact at the end of the Eighties led to the suppression of the front line divisions. The period immediately after the war was characterised by a mainly agricultural economy, the Rocca Bernarda estate saw the rebirth of the picolit, after long years of selection of the delicate vine by the Perusini. Subsequently rapid economic development took place, linked especially to the timber processing sector and the expansion of vine-growing. The churches scattered over the area are no less important and here we can find traces of our history with series of frescoes of significance in Friulian painting: the Parish Church of Premariacco, dedicated to S. Silvestro Papa, the old sixteenth century Parish Church, the Church of S. Mauro in Firmano, the Church of St. John the Baptist, the Church of Azzano, the Parish Church of Orsaria, the little church of Saints Ilario and Taziano of Paderno d’Orsaria, etc.