The village of Polcenigo is one of the ‘most beautiful villages’ in Italy, a well deserved title. Are you curious to know why?
In an hidden place on the slopes of the Western Carnic Pre-Alps, a few kilometres away from Pordenone in Friuli Venezia Giulia, it is located the small village of Polcenigo. A hidden gem that shines of its own light.
Considered Friuli's green jewel box, the enchanting village is surrounded by lush nature and surrounded by lots of water. Besides, the numerous streams and brooks that flow into its River Livenza, the town is home to the enchanting Gorgazzo Spring, a true natural wonder that will leave you speechless.
But Polcenigo hides other surprises too...
A town-centre steeped in history, the Castle from which you can admire the beautiful panorama of the valley, noble Palaces, a UNESCO Archaeological Site and much more.
Are you ready to discover what is hidden in Polcenigo jewel box? Then carry on reading!
History & Curiosities
With its wooden gates, green windows full of flowers, houses in soft colours such as ochre and yellow, narrow stone streets and small wooden bridges, the delightful village of Polcenigo will warmly welcome you, taking you back to a distant and timeless past.
Simply called 'al borc' in Friulian dialect, Polcenigo is a village of basket weavers and farmers. It still preserves centuries-old craft traditions as the famous art of basket weaving, and has a great historical heritage.
The town took shape from the Castle above it and was inhabited by many people since prehistoric times, thanks to its strategic location and natural resources. Beside the Romans, who left a necropolis as proof of their existence, also the Venetian and Hapsburg people occupied Polcenigo, which in the end became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1877.
For archaeology enthusiasts, not to be missed is the discovery of a Palaeolithic pile-dwelling village in the marshy area near the river. Today known as the Palù Archaeological Site, a UNESCO World Heritage, here you will be able to see the remains of the pile dwellings in the water. If you want to admire other archaeological finds then you can visit the Archaeological Museum of Western Friuli.
Places not to be missed
Strolling through the village, you will do a real journey through time!
In the below part of the village you can stroll around Via Coltura, the town's oldest street, where you can admire the Venetian-style Palaces. Palazzo Zaro, once owned by the Counts of Polcenigo and Palazzo Pezzuti. On the other side of the town you will find Palazzo Scolari, declared by the Italian State to be of historical and cultural interest. Here you will be able to access its beautiful back garden through a small bridge and then cross a path to reach a point where you can enjoy a beautiful view.
On your way up to the Castle, you cannot miss the Church of San Giacomo with the adjoining Franciscan monastery, one of the first built in the Friuli region. A place where sacredness meets art with its medieval geometric decorations or its beautiful painted ceilings. But what makes it a truly unique place is the mix of styles from different eras. In its 18th-century interior you will be amazed by its 14th-century frescoes and various paintings from the 16th century.
After passing the monastery, you will reach the top of the hill that dominates Polcenigo, where the fascinating Castle stands. You will be truly enchanted by the view over the entire valley, and if you use a bit of imagination you can also delve into its historical memory. Built in the Middle Ages as a real fortress, the Castle saw the gradual development of the village at its foot, but due to a bad fire it was completely destroyed and rebuilt it in a completely different style, that of the Venetian villa. A fascinating building that will intrigue you with its mysterious aura.
Between springs and parks
As already mentioned, the main characteristic of Polcenigo is its link with water. It is an ideal place to relax with the sound of flowing water, breathe fresh air and take excursions into the countryside.
The village is crossed by the Livenza River, known as the green river because of its incomparably beautiful and intensely coloured water, which you can admire from close up along the path that runs alongside it.
You certainly can't miss the Sorgente del Gargazzo, a deep blue body of water that will remain in your memory for a long time, not only for its beauty but also for its mysterious history. It originates from an underground cave, one of the deepest in Europe, and although it has been explored several times, unfortunately also with dramatic consequences, its real depth still remains a mystery...
...but if you pay attention you will be able to see through its crystal-clear waters what its bottom hides. A statue of Christ stands at the entrance to the cavity, and although visible from the surface, it is actually over nine metres deep!
Not far from the Sorgenti del Garagazzo, we recommend you also take a trip to the Sorgenti della Santissima, where the Livenza River has its source, near which you will find the Church of the Holy Trinity.
To complete your nature tour, don't miss the San Floriano Rural Park, the only rural park in Italy. A 900-metre path will accompany you on your silent walks, on foot or by bicycle, perhaps stopping for a picnic or tasting some delicious local dishes at the refreshment points located in the park.
Art and traditions
Polcenigo is a quiet and peaceful village, but throughout the year it hosts numerous artistic, culinary and social events.
The exhibition of nativity scenes is one of the most popular events in the village, dating back to the 13th century. During the Christmas period you can lose yourself in the old streets of Polcenigo accompanied by a feast of music and lights, and you will be surprised by the many characteristic nativity that invade the village. In fact, you will find them placed along the streets, in the courtyards, on the window benches or in the gardens. A real show!
Another event not to be missed is the centuries-old ‘Sagra dei Sest’ or basket fair. This festival will give you a flair of the true soul of the village. In the past, farmers used to go to this fair to buy handmade baskets made by weaving wicker. Since then, this event has been intended to celebrate the craft of weaving, a lost art form. In this warm and welcoming festival, in addition to the exhibition of hundreds of baskets (thést in dialect), there will be typical handicraft and gastronomic products, such as malga cheese, concerts and theatre shows.
The Museum of Culinary Art is another interesting and curious place that celebrates the special artistic vocation of Altolivenza’s chefs, an area between Friuli and Veneto. In case you didn't know it the chefs of this area are famous not only in Italy but all over the world, for their excellent cooking skills. In the museum you will get your mouth watering as you read special dishes recipes and menus, as well as getting to know new culinary tools, admiring old photographs and getting to know the best Italian chefs internationally renown.