film & videos

  food & wine
  italian american

  free email
  link directory

new york
events, links, forum

events, links, forum

events, links, forum

events, links, forum

san francisco
events, links, forum

los angeles
events, links, forum

about us

you can help us!
We're an all volunteer website and need your help to keep going. Here are five ways you can contribute:
1 Donate
2 Buy something
3 Submit a story
4 Volunteer
5 Advertise

get in gear!
New in the gift shop, logo wear and use items!
  PLEASE NOTE: We are experiencing unexpected technical difficulties caused by our web host. We apologize for the inconvenience. During your visit you may experience service and page interruptions - we are in the process of fixing everything and hope to be fully back on our feet soon.

il giorno del non
as told to Jill Terry by Alessandro Zanon

A curious celebration of the day someone said "no"

About 50 kilometers northeast of Trento sits the Fiemme Valley. Like many parts of Trentino - Alto Adige, the mountains isolate it from other cities and towns. The Fiemme Valley was, and is, also surrounded by pine tree forests, canyons, and deep snow for much of the year. Its main town is Cavalese.

Hundreds of years ago, Trentino - Alto Adige was ruled by a prince bishop who controlled economic, political, and religious matters. In short, he controlled everything. Yet, thanks to the isolation provided by nature, and the lack of mines or fields on which to profit, the prince bishop largely ignored the people and economy of the Fiemme Valley.

In fact, it was because of this lack of ongoing oversight that the people of the valley (the Fiemmesi) requested an exemption from the taxes they were required to pay. They believed that because they did not profit from the development financed by the taxes they paid, they should be entitled to pay less or none at all. In 1110, the Fiemmesi and the Bishop of Trento Gebardo signed the Patti Ghebardini (Ghebardini Treaty). With this treaty, the Magnifica Communita' was founded (the semi-democratic political system that is still practiced in the valley today).

This newfound freedom allowed the Fiemmesi to fully exploit the one natural resource they had: timber. The abete rosso (red spruce) was particularly plentiful in Paneveggio (protected today by a national park). The people soon discovered ways to build ships for the Venice Republic and to fashion violins for Stradivarius. Timber was exported to Venice for shipbuilding via the river Avisio, then along the Adige, and then finally the Adriatic Sea.

As it happens, in the 14th century, the prince bishop had developed some special business interests with the timber salesmen from nearby Trento and he did not appreciate the competition presented by the Fiemme Valley. And so, he forbade timber transport through the Avisio River, shutting down the valley's economy.

The Fiemmesi adopted a variety of approaches to persuade the prince bishop to change his mind. Like any distraught people, they begged. But prince bishops are rather immune to begging, so that tactic failed miserably. The people then appealed to the Emperor, from whom the prince bishop received his power. The beneficent Emperor declared the trade ban illegal. Unfortunately, the prince bishop was also immune to edicts issued by Emperors and the ban, though now illegal, continued.

The ingenious Fiemmesi then took to designing a special machine, we'll call it a winch or manghen, that pulled the timber from Molina di Fiemme (the lowest point in the valley), along the Cadino Valley and up to the pass (later dubbed the Passo Manghen), then over the mountain where it was transported along the Brenta river and on to Venice.

The Fiemmesi hoped this would only have to serve as a temporary solution, something to serve them until the prince bishop came to his senses. With the Magnifica Comunita, they organized a grand party for the prince bishop. They hoped the food, entertainment, and games would show the good will of the people, along with their bravery and physical skills.

see also...
Il Giorno del Non
What a long cold winter it's been
In the Trentino Pot
What do you know about Trentino-Alto Adige?
Visit Trentino-Alto Adige
Visit other Italian regions
At the end of the festivities, the Fiemmesi asked the prince bishop to repeal the ban. The answer did not take long: it was "no" once again.

And so, in modern Cavalese, that fateful day is commemorated annually on August 15 as "Il Giorno del Non". Live performances, feasts, parades, and revelry are observed with great enthusiasm to celebrate the uncrushable spirit of the Fiemmesi, who had only to wait until their evil prince bishop eventually died and was replaced with a less corrupt leader.


© 1998-2005 by unless otherwise noted