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The parts of the municipality are five. The biggest one, Arten, is in an important position, 2.5 km at East of Fonzaso. It's located under the mountain Aurin, in the middle of the intersection between the streets that bring to Fonzaso, Feltre, Arsiè and it's crossed by a creek called Levica. (continua ...)

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Historical Notes

The parts of the municipality are five. The biggest one, Arten, is in an important position, 2.5 km at East of Fonzaso. It's located under the mountain Aurin, in the middle of the intersection between the streets that bring to Fonzaso, Feltre, Arsiè and it's crossed by a creek called Levica.

From "De Bello Gallico" of Giulio Cesare where the term Ars, that many people want to understand it as fortress, a fort placed in an important point, is used many times to indicate that there was already an inhabited nucleus at that time and today it correspond to the inhabited of Arten. Anyway we say this only as a curiosity but there is none historical basis.

There is also people who say that the place, that others suggest as location of a fortress (Ars), instead remembers the site of a convent; affirmation that can be confirmed by the build of an house people said be a convent.

It's historically proven that in Arten there was a convent of monks. It's probable that in the 1420, when Venice Government decided to tear down the fortress of Arten, this building was instead transformed and adapted to a convent.

The house of Fontanelle, as will be remembered, became a fort; later it was used as checkpoint to levy duty on goods. Here still exist an old stone tub used for watering animals during stops. In the 1656 Arten suffered greatly due to a big fire.

Arten is a lowly village that grows continuously: it looks nice, not so much for the beauty of his buildings as for the regularity of these.
It's partially surrounded by vineyards that grow and climb on the rocks of Aurin.
Remarkable its latin cross church, beautified by a wide dome. It's parish seat since 1921 when it was subtracted from Archpriest of Fonzaso.

At the cemetery it's located the church of San Nicolò, with a span blessed by saint Gregorio Barbarigo and in which population had confidence for protection from storms unleashed on our countries and crops. Church was consecrated on September 1503: inside it by ancient custom there was the solemn blessing of the olive in the Palm Sunday. Ancient frescoes, decorated the church, were whitewashed after the plague in 1752.

Taken from “Fonzaso“ di Angelo Vigna - 1965
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The Castles

Ancient Finds

Since the days of the Romans, Castle ruins have always given, to who know what to search, historical finds that would tell the history of the fortress. So fragments of mesh, rusty blades, broken helmets, inscriptions, tombstones and a good number of coins were found. Many of these were bought by Count Iacopo Dei that increased his collection. The Count Francesco Tauro bought a sword with the hilt that could be admired until 1848 in the room of Sibille, in the villa of Centenere.
The most important finds were discovered on 20th January 1875, when Mr. Luigi Buzzati of Fonzaso unearthed, between the ruins of the Castle of Arten, two basins and one cup belonged to the King of Vandals Geilamiro.

The first basin is circular shape, made by silver with a diameter of 49 centimeters and deep around 5, that rests on a cylindrical base. In the middle of basin there is a circle scratched, with a diameter of 22 centimeters, divided into 28 rays. Between two circles there is, in lowercase Gothic, the following inscription:
"Gelaimir Vandalorum et Alanorum Rex"

The second basin, made by silver, with a diameter of 28 centimeters and half, has a relief that showed a wedding allegory. On one side there is an almost nude man that puts his hand to his side and with the other hand tightens a rod. The woman stays on the opposite side, close to an altar, wears a robe with some friezes and gives to man a lily. Between these two there is a child that seems to present the bride to the groom, meanwhile in the bottom, to end the beautiful representation, there are two doves that drink from a cup, sign of the union that is about to celebrate.

Taken from "I Castelli Feltrini" - Antonio Vecellio - 1896

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Villa Tonello

Villa Tonello is the villa of the Belluno province that better proves a very close relationship of imitation and exchange between the villa and the traditional rural house, a phenomenon tha is not easily seen in other areas of Veneto.
In the moment that nobles or rich owners start to directly manage agricultural works, moving their permanent address from the city to countryside, they carry with them some elements of urban living and they transfer in mountainous countryside the model of a Villa Veneta.

Villa Tonello is a very articulate ensemble of historical buildings, builded in a period of time that goes from XVI and XIX century.

The elements that form the building are placed to enclose a grassy courtyard of irregular shape. The main building, detached, is the one of the Villa, cleary sixteenth, builded on a regular plant, on only two floors with a simple gable roof.
The building looks divided longitudinally in two blocks for the presence of a large front building that contains the portico and the overlaying loggia, linked by the external staircase; behind this, the main block with living spaces linked, in recent times, by an internal staircase. Anyway external and internal areas seem in close relationship.
In fact both ground floor and first floor, we can recognize the same organization and relation between spaces: four big areas linked by a series of central doors with a covered external space that, in the ground floor, is a portico, while, in the first floor, is a beautiful lodge decorated with frescoes. Framed paintings alternating to elegant bearded alto-rilievo describe some moments of Roman history. The work is attribuited to the painter Pietro De Marascalchi from Feltre.
Also indoors, Villa amazes for its beauty and the particularity of its architectonic elements; in fact we can admire two centuries of history of interior.
First floor, eighteenth-century, preserve a rich series of decorations made of stucco that adorn every upper parts of doors and some walls of rooms. In the ground floor instead we can admire the great numbers of styles in which ceilings are made.
At east perpendicular to the Villa a L shaped building holds antique rustics of eighteenth. The building is characterized by a simple and elegant architectural partition of surfaces, it’s linked to the Villa with an archway.
The beautifull octagonal fountain, in the past maybe collocated in a different place compared to the main building, preserves a big arms of Tonello family, dated 1716.

Ricerca sulla Villa Tonello

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The Castle

Today no one would think of building a castle as protection against invaders, and even less to do it in a place like Arten, small village at foot of mountain Aurin.
However, if we observe with more attention the surrounding area, we can see how this small village rises in a cross point of important ways of communication. So it’s not difficult to understand why the village had, in antiquity, a fundamental part in the control of valley of Feltre. Seen as a “key point of Canaletto”, only connection to Feltre and stopping-off point for wayfarers that, exiting from the valley of Seren, crossed the bridge called “Caupo” (Caput Pontis”, of which still today we remind the name), the village had to be provided with a defensive fortification.

Un Castello

Still today the most suitable place to build a castle is the top of mountain Aurin, and so had to be a lot of years ago. Confirmation of this hypothesis is given by the great numbers of finds discovered until XVI century; some testimonials comes from “Cronache di Feltre”(annals of Feltre), where Giovanni Bellotti tells about Roman foundations on the top of mountain and some copper weapons. Then the birth of the fortress can be attributed to Romans. As the history want, the name “Arten” would be given by manufacturers of castle that had called that place “Ars” (fortress) hence the name of our village. Mons. G.B. Zanetti, in his annotations on the “Vita del B. Bernardino da Feltre” (“life of B. Bernardino from Feltre”) and the Count Antonio Dal Corno, in some thoughts, are of the same opinion.
Center of defense, the fortress of Arten dominated from the top of mountain Aurin, to control the road of “Canaletto”, a way good defence by other castles as the Castle of Bugnone, that rose in the point in which the valley of Mugnai throws itself toward Feltre, faced up by Castle of Facen, of Transvallulla and of Rosa.

The massive wall of the Castle neither succumbed to the barbaric invasion, but rather were enriched of glory and honour.
Confirmed this the finds of Mr. Luigi Buzzati of Fonzaso that, on 20th January 1875, unearthed two basins and one cup belonged to King Geilamiro. (description of finds)
History teaches us that Geilamiro, son of Gelarido and grandnephew of Genserico, occupied the throne of Vandals in 513 A.D. after removal of the legitimate King Hilderico. He was defeated by Belisario, servant of Roman Emperor Giustiniano, in the battle of Tricameron on 15th December 534 A.D.
That the history doesn't tell us is how some pottery, marked with the brand of the King of Vandals, reached Arten. Surely such precious objects could not be lost on the way and not even, could be carried by a not noble person. That we can thought is that the lord of Arten took part, beside Belisario, at the final battle, and here,maybe thanks to his brave and his bold, deserved a part of booty subtracted to the King…

Importance of the Castle reached its top on the VI century when its decline started.
In the following years the city of Arten, for the will of King Alboino, was relocated from the plain to hill and stopped to consider Castle as a part of itself. In the same years the Castle of Fonzaso was builded, that rose in the jurisdiction of Arten. Fonzaso started to get stronger at the expense of Arten (It’s on this time that was born the hostility between people of Arten and Fonzaso?!). Despite this the village continued to grow, thanks to the deviation, due to natural or human causes, of the torrent “Cismone” that deviated toward Brenta river.

Carlo Magno

After the defeat of Lombards, Charlemagne, seen the city of Feltre depopulated and devoid of the ancient splendor, decided to repopulated it with castellans of those areas. Needless to say that, this decision, accentuated the decadence of the Castle of Arten become similar to a manor, a noble residence inhabited only during autumn.
Due to the great number of castellans, a lot of towers were builded in Feltre, fact that contributed to restore glory to the city. One of these towers, in the district “Paradiso”(heaven), was owned by “Fonzasio” family that transferred there all the weapons that were in the fortress of Arten, now completely defenseless.

In the years of peace that followed, the Castle of Arten saw again its castellans that, as just happened in the past, showed their brave answering the call of the Crusades.
Giovanni ed Onorio D’Arteno were the first to go to Jerusalem led by Giovanni Da Vidor, but many others followed with the second Crusade. Between them there was also Azzo D’Arteno who, as Giovanni De Bellati reminds in "Siloe", found:"…the tomb of his ancestor Onorio that Giovanni, brother of him, had made before to leave."

During internal wars that devastated the city of Feltre in the XII and XIV century, we can find also castellans of Arten. Differently from other families that sided or with Guelphs or with Ghibellines, castellans of Arten changed frequently their flag, but despite this, they showed also in this time their brave. We know in fact that Giovanni from Arten militated in the ranks of Emperor Federico II, from which had deserved, thanks to his valor, privileges and awards. Onorio of Arten fighted valiantly against Ezzelino da Romano in the spring of 1248. In the conspiracy against bishop Adalgerio Villalta, failed due to a betrayal, there was a good number of people from Arten; and many others were concerned to defend, in Feltre, the Guelph Prelato.
Between XII and XIII century, the Castle underwent numerous assaults, conducted always by Guelphs, but was always be able to fight them off. Foreign invasions and political controversies were not enough for the Castle walls that had to face also the feelings of love. During the night of 18th January 1296, Onorio D’Arten, ready to marry Giselda the day after, daughter of Floro da Foro, was assaulted by Pitro Muffone that came out from woods “delle Gazze” by surprise. Pietro in love with the bride, had already tried to win her heart, but failing he had decided to take up arms. Defeated, he retreated and died three days after due to injuries sustained during the battle.

At the beginning of XV century the Castle of Arten was fallen into disrepair.
Walls now smashed bore the marks of all interminable battles that had seen and that had made great the name of the fortress and its castellans.
The final blow has been given when, on order of “Repubblica Serenissima” (republic of Venice), were broken down all castles around Feltre.
The era of Castles was ended.

On 20th January 1875 a traveler, present at the disinterment of basins of King Geilamiro, understood the glory, the splendor and the importance that had the fortress, wrote:



Taken from “I Castelli Feltrini“ - Antonio Vecellio - 1896