Charts, Sites, and Lands at Rosazzo and Brazzano
Of Maps and Wines / I beg the reader’s indulgence in advance for the minor misquotation I am about to perpetrate by introducing my journey through maps, charts, and wines with a short passage from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince. It comes from the hero’s conversation with the old geographer on the sixth planet he visited during his fantastic wanderings.
“What is that big book?” said the little prince. “What are you doing?”
“I am a geographer,” said the old gentleman.
“What is a geographer?” asked the little prince.
“A geographer is a scholar who knows the location of all the seas, rivers, towns, mountains, and deserts.”
... “Your planet is very beautiful,” he said. “Has it any oceans?”
“I couldn’t tell you,” said the geographer.
“Ah!” The little prince was disappointed. “Has it any mountains?”
“I couldn’t tell you,” said the geographer.
“And towns, and rivers, and deserts?”
“I couldn’t tell you that, either.”
“But you are a geographer!” “Exactly,” the geographer said. “But I am not a mapmaker.” **
As everyone who has read the English translation will know, the conversation continues with a discussion of the morality of mapmakers – I am continuing to abuse the patience of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who talks about “explorers” in the original – and how geographers should check their work: a mapmaker who had had too much to drink might mark two mountains on the map instead of one! But leaving this work of fiction aside, we can say that true geography could not exist without cartography. As Norman J.W. Thrower writes in Maps and Man, “the map is a sensitive indicator of the changing thought of man, and few of his works seem to be such an excellent mirror of culture and civilization”.
Since remotest antiquity, long before writing, humanity has felt a need to communicate – through signs, sketches, and other marks – a sense of location, of nearness in relation to farness, by representing first the spaces of everyday life and village culture, and then extending this representation to more distant lands, and to the very cosmos itself. It is precisely this fascination that attracts us to old charts and maps. We are drawn not just by their artistic value, but also by what they communicate and what they represent: an understanding of places and their most intimate features. Above all, they reflect the organization of territory and the conception of space underpinning the civilization and culture that produced them. If this is geography’s specific task – and geography is certainly not the ritual description of borders, products, and capital cities inflicted on generations of schoolchildren – it is obvious that maps, and the knowledge they transmit, are indispensable. Within self-defined limits, maps describe lands, places, their names, their rivers, fields, roads, and highlands, the marks of man and those of nature. They convey, to those who know how to read them, the deep significance of a territory, and the identity that makes it unique.
It’s the same with wines. Often, wines take their names from places, lands, or regions. They have a strong sense of identity and belonging, indelibly portraying the civilization, culture, and territory from which they draw their being. We only have to close our eyes and think of the names of wines both famous and obscure to be transported on a fantastic journey around the world, Europe, Italy, or Friuli.
Flashing past in quick succession are broad valleys, rivers, hills, villages, towns, cities, convoluted landscapes, vineyards alternating with olive groves and woodlands, vast expanses of farmlands, flatlands, hill country, and steep, terraced slopes. Barolo, Cinque Terre, Soave, Carmignano, Chianti, Bolgheri, Montalcino, Taurasi, Ischia, Marsala, Ay, Sancerre, Meursault, Pomerol, give way in turn to the far-off lands of Napa, Coonawarra, Marlborough and Stellenbosch, and then closer, more familiar places: the broad Friulian plain with its resurgent springs and gravel flats, the rolling hills of the Collio and Colli Orientali del Friuli, the winding roads and tracks that take us to the roncs, the vine-clad hillsides that give us Picolit, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon, Refosco, Merlot, Ribolla Gialla, Tocai Friulano.
The same thing happens with maps and charts. You can close your eyes and drift away through territories that open to reveal a thousand magical views, conjuring up sounds, colors, languages, homes, roads, men’s and women’s faces, struggle and joy, work and repose, cultures, lifestyles, identities, and belonging. These are territories, in the sense that they are the set of elements making up the fabric of a space where humanity fulfils its individual or collective existential project, transforming terrain into landscape.
The landscape then becomes cultural, an indicator of human societies’ life styles. This is a fundamental premise for any understanding of the special characteristics that bind societies to their territory, including a sense of identity and a sense of belonging. And this is even truer when the groups of humans are communities with special linguistic, ethnic, and cultural features that distinguish them from their neighbors and make them unique. Cultural landscape and wine are, from this point of view, opportunities to acquire information, and special tools with which to gain an insight into places. That insight comes, on the one hand, from the tastes, flavors, fragrances, and colors of wine, but it is equally necessary to read charts, maps, travel diaries, and other documents. Nor do the links and affinities stop there. If you want to get to know wines and places, you have to travel through them and move around in them. There are roads that lead to wines, and roads that lead to places. And the places where wine is made are extraordinary, as beguiling and ancient as maps and humanity’s desire to draw familiar surroundings. In that sense, Friuli is a very special land. The Romans left us one of the most important maps in the history of cartography, the Tabula Peutingeriana, which indicates the network of roads and highways that brought us the vine and wine, encouraging the first grape growers, the first wine traders, and the first wine taverns.
These ancient roads run in parallel. There is an art in making good wine, and an art in drawing good – and not just pretty – maps. The mapmaker is a winemaker, and the winemaker is a mapmaker.
Livio’s chart, or the map label / As a budding geographer, I left the Old World of Europe for the eastern seaboard of the United States. I was intensely curious about America’s metropolises, the celebrated conurbations I had studied in my textbooks and which in the early 1970s were regarded as models of spatial organization. My curiosity was intense enough, as I looked out of the plane window, for me to put up with the immense, unchanging expanse of blue that had replaced the intricate patchwork of fields, the unfolding valleys and Alpine peaks, and the snaring, slow-moving rivers. All things considered, I reflected, it’s easy to draw maps of seas and oceans, even though the ocean’s azure was occasionally scratched by a ship’s wake, but luckily mapmakers don’t have to include those. Land maps are complicated by hills, mountains, villages and a thousand other details that have to be drawn.
It was my first long journey, and there was much to be thrilled by. I was leaving a small region and its landscapes, thinking about how I would describe to others the geography of my own special places: the Alps, the upper and lower flatlands, the coast, and the rivers. In particular, I was thinking about how to place Friuli quickly and easily. If I said Udine, no one would know where I was talking about: the Udinese club was not yet playing Serie A football! Cividale was even less wellknown, so I would have to fall back on more famous locations, like Trieste and Venice. The latter in particular would make pinpointing Friuli on the map much easier. I was going to have to use concepts like “near,” “a bit farther up,” and “not far from,” indicating borders and limits.
It wasn’t a problem, I told myself, because all maps have borders and limits, but what references could I use to get my information across? The ones for small-scale or large-scale maps? (Just out of curiosity, how many readers are still trying to sort out which scales are small and which are large? If the map is to a small scale, will the representation of the territory be bigger or smaller? It is a student’s nightmare, like map projections – azimuthal, conical, cylindrical, conformal, equal-area, and gnomic, or those with strange names such as Miller, Lambert, Sanson-Flamsteed, Mercator, or Eckert – not to mention latitudes, longitudes, reference systems, Gauss-Boaga grids, and skeleton maps, all of which spell the demise of any residual love of geography and mapmaking).
I didn’t have any maps with me, partly because I thought it would be ridiculous to haul out a map, and then have to fold it up again, every time I wanted to explain where I come from. Reluctantly, I resigned myself to talking in general terms like some traveler of yore, and telling people about my land on Italy’s eastern border, not too far from Venice. It cheered me to think that, if my English was up to it, I could recycle the lovely passage by Francesco Michiel, the Provveditore, or superintendent, of Venice’s mainland empire, who in the mid sixteenth century described Friuli in these terms:
This Homeland of Friuli is a Province most lovely, providing all necessities in copious quantity. First, many cereals, most perfect wines, timber for fires, and for forges, good water, and only most perfect air in almost all the Homeland. Friuli is situated on a broad plain, girt around to the north by three ranks of mountains, the first of which is hills, most pleasing mounts yielding fodder and most delicate, perfect wines, and most excellent fruits; the second has timber for fires and workshops; the third and last, of very high, bleak mountains, exposed to snows and ice. The part to the south is bounded by the sea, where there are good, very capacious harbors. The plain is covered with farms, castles, and villages ... there are many noteworthy rivers, as the Timavo, the Lisonzo, the Taiamento and last the very wide yet placid Livenza ... many other deep-flowing torrential rivers, lakes and meres.
Observe that the Provveditore’s description is careful to mention Friuli’s “most perfect wines” as one of the region’s main products at the time, in addition to precisely identifying the territory’s distinguishing features. So I was reflecting on wine and territory as I winged my way to the land of Coca-Cola, and the cabin staff proffered tiny bottles of improbable Frascati and Chianti.
At that time, the more draconian hand baggage restrictions had yet to come into force, but sadly a need to travel light, and severe customs regulations, had prevented me from taking with me the sacred fruits of my Friulian soil: wine, cheese, and cold meats to use as precious social currency on the various occasions when I would receive hospitality. And it was just before one such occasion that I had the good fortune to encounter the “wine with the map label” for the first time. On arriving in New York, I went into one of those enormous, astonishing establishments for the sale of alcohol where spirits, beers, other beverages, and wines stand to attention on endless shelves, carefully sorted by country of origin and type, as they wait to be purchased, after due presentation of the buyer’s identity document, and slipped into one of the traditional brownpaper bags. In those years, the United States wine market was dominated by France, to which extensive shelf space was devoted, leaving little or no room for other wine-producing countries in Europe or the rest of the world. Out of curiosity, I set about finding the Italian section to scrutinize the wines available. There were Barberas, Barolos, Chiantis, Frascatis, and a few Merlots from the Veneto. From Friuli, as I well remember, there were some impressive Pinot Grigios and Tocai Friulanos. The bottles stood out for their odd label, which was destined to solve many of the localization problems I had been grappling with during the flight. Serendipitously, the labels bore a map of the part of Friuli that lies between the Torre-Natisone and Isonzo rivers. They were an excellent, conveniently large-scale representation of my familiar places, which were also the places where the splendid wines inside the bottles were produced.
It has to be said that wine labels are a bit special, because they have to perform several functions at once. They are identity documents, user instructions, certifications of quality, indications of provenance, and also project the image of the wine itself. Labels have a fundamental role in marketing and public relations, but often they are also genuinely inspired.
Wine labels reveal a wide range of techniques and graphic approaches, from modern to ancient, photographs of the winemakers or the production zones, works of art, stylized graphics, cellars, winery buildings... in short, almost anything goes. But few labels carry maps, so few that half a century after I discovered those Livio Felluga wines in New York, they proudly bear a message on the capsule: 1956-2006, 50 anni di carta geografica (1956-2006, map label 50 year anniversary).
Let’s take a closer look at this map, not least because it often earns no more than a cursory glance from observers who are quite rightly more attracted by the bottle’s contents. In contrast, a scrupulous student of maps and charts, long used to reading these magnificent documents with care and fastidious attention, will certainly note other things.
There are features on this map that are perturbing, mysterious, and special, almost as if a hidden hand had scattered little hints and signs to conduct the curious visitor on a journey back in time to the day when Livio Felluga, apprentice cartographer, chose his celebrated label. He could not have made a better job of tickling the curiosity of those who make and study maps, or those who are simply, as John Noble Wilford says in his splendid book Mapmakers, explaining the history and fascination of his discipline, attracted by a “map, inviting dreams, speculations, perhaps exploration”.
Livio’s Map – that’s what I call it, like Mercator’s, Cassini’s, Ortelius’, Ptolemy’s, or those of many other famous cartographers and humble topographers – must have had a special origin. It was conceived and designed in a special environment; it is not the result of cold-blooded planning in a dispassionate graphic design studio. Livio must have had a magical vision of old maps hanging on the walls of country homes and villas, or in a book or atlas, or perhaps on the shelves of an antiquarian bookshop, or in a land registry office defining the boundaries of estates or plots for sale. Maps that are ancient, but not without place names or signs; maps born of Venice’s passion for charting, extended to a mainland of houses, villages, woods, and mills; maps that like an artist’s drawing freely interpret the territory, adding or taking away rivers, mountains, roads, castles, churches, or villages, according to taste and necessity.
What better, Livio must have thought, than a map to indicate the noblest product of a land and an entire region? What better than a map to show the places, the efforts, and the labor of men and women? What else could take anyone who wants to go beyond the mere oenology of the product on such a fantastic, imaginary journey? What else could display around the globe the close ties that bind wine to its territory? But which map? What places should it represent? These are the first signals from this special map, whose features are very similar to the ones used from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth, when the problem of how to represent reliefs was solved. In fact, Livio’s Map still uses the molehill method of representing the “mountains most bleak” instead of modern techniques of line and shade, shaded relief, and altimetric or contour lines. Inhabited locations are only sketched or hinted at, in the form of a simple building, castle, or church. For bigger groupings, buildings with several towers and walls are used. This is how maps from the sixteenth century on, like those of Pirro Ligorio, Ortelius, Scolari, or Cristoforo Sorte, describe the Homeland of Friuli. What is odd about Livio’s Map is the fact that many place names are written in their modern form, instead of the more ancient toponyms to be found on other maps. Equally strange is the decision to make the territory recognizable with the presence of a large number of watercourses. In contrast to larger maps, their names are not indicated. Nor is the cartouche with the name of the wine, and sometimes also the vintage, one of those habitually used in mapmaking. It might even suggest, to those who have served as altar boys, the cornices on the altar framing the formulas for the response and offertory.
But the oddest thing about Livio’s Map, and a feature that is every mapmaker’s dream, is its ability to change. Depending on circumstance, the same map expands and contracts to include new territories while simultaneously excluding others. Hence the question that the cartographer is prompted to ask: is there a bigger, secret map of the whole of Friuli and the borderlands that extend eastwards?
We can find an answer by examining a copy of the oldest Livio Felluga map-label, which is on a special production of Livio’s Pinot Grigio. It is different from the present-day labels, and more similar to ancient maps both in the style of the drawing and the wealth of detail, embracing a territory bounded by the Natisone to the west and the Isonzo to the east. Cormons is clearly visible, but so is Goritia (Gorizia) and Cividal (Cividale) del Friuli. It is interesting to note that the only watercourse named is the Corno torrential river, but the Torre, Judrio, and Versa are clearly marked. None of this is appears on Livio’s present-day map, or rather maps. They seem to have been given a makeover in a more modern idiom where the place names are the ones we know today, the rivers are barely hinted at, villages have disappeared, and elevations are nuanced. In comparison with the more ancient map, the new representation has a life of its own. It appears to be striving to underline the impoverishment of a territory that is increasingly homogeneous, hinting at the decline of rural culture and civilization.
But the maps that today grace Livio’s, Sossó, Pinot Grigio, Terre Alte, to mention just a few Livio Felluga wines, have the magical ability to change, expand, and change the color of some of the place names, adapting themselves to the contents of the bottle, and accompanying its evolution. Once that content has been drained, might the map-label itself sometimes disappear, leaving behind an empty, soulless space, the terror of all mapmakers?
I have one more doubt to clear up. It came to me as I was reading some books my children recently suggested. It relates to Harry Potter’s Marauder’s Map, a living map that is created and reforms itself in real time to show the movements of people, animals, and objects, and reveal secret places that are hidden to ordinary maps. This map is not just a representation of a territory, place, or region. In a sense, it is dynamically updatable and modifiable: it has a life of its own. There can be no doubt that somewhere there exists a Marauder’s Map version of Livio’s label. On it, growers move through the vineyards with grape-laden carts and barrels faintly redolent of sulfur, another archaic term that takes us back to the magical rites and utensils of the past. That map could reveal the destiny of every bottle, or even more mysteriously, the face of someone spinning stories of life and love over a glass of wine.
Charts, maps, and land registries – a brief journey through maps and mapmakers / In the course of this discussion of Livio’s Map, we have introduced one or two topics and problems characteristic of cartography. The time has now come to leave Livio and his fine family to look after their vineyards, grapes, and wines as we take a quick trip through the maps of the past, partly to gain a better understanding of cartography, and partly to acquire a better knowledge of the area of Friuli around the Abbey of Rosazzo, in the municipalities of Corno di Rosazzo and Manzano, which Livio Felluga has done so much to promote.
In order to make this journey, we shall look at some of the wellknown and less well-known documents to be found in the marvelous map collection that goes under the name of the Udine State Archive. Our search might have been wider. We could have included Venice, Vienna, Rome, and the private archives of Friulian families, but instead we have opted for maps and charts that can either be found in published collections or can be consulted directly – and this is a warm invitation to do so – at the Udine State Archive. That said, it was not easy to make the selection. Our aim was to provide a brief look at the history of cartography, starting from the maps of the sixteenth century to arrive at the land registry maps that brought the classic age of mapmaking to a close, and ushered in its modern era.
Those who have been patient enough to follow the story so far will have understood that mapmakers have had to deal with a wide range of problems to solve the great issues posed by representing the surface of the globe on a plane. There are problems of scale, problems of representing reliefs, projection strategies, graphic conventions, and choice of symbols, not forgetting the philosophical and epistemological issues relating to the very concepts of reality and representation themselves. Another crucial problem that has always dogged mapmakers is surveying techniques, which today look trivial, given the support we have available from technology and of course computers. Thanks to computers, any one of us can effortlessly draft, enlarge, reduce, and print plans and road maps. We can take a satellite’s eye-view of the planet, and then zoom in to explore valleys and towns in three dimensions. Once, things were different. Making and drawing a map demanded effort, intelligence, technical skills, artistic ability, and proficiency in mathematics, geography, and astronomy. Often, the mapmaker had to walk miles and miles. This remained true until the introduction of topographic and geometric techniques that made possible a scientific representation of the surface of the earth.
Today, it is easy to select a portion of territory and identify all the documents that might be useful in representing it, not least because since the late nineteenth century, photography has been a trusty aid for mapmakers. In the past, large portions of territory, perhaps on the periphery of the more dynamic centers of population, would be indicated by now-proverbial phrases such as hic sunt leones (here be lions), or montagne asprissime (mountains most bleak), or simply left blank for cartouches or other decorative elements. For long, this was the condition in which Friuli languished, undocumented and little represented on maps; it was even truer of the smaller portions of its territory, like the one we are exploring here. But yet again, there are features that help us to link the history of how Rosazzo was represented with chorographic mapmaking, since Rosazzo and its Abbey were major points of reference for the local context and a wider area far beyond the boundaries of the region context from the ninth and tenth centuries onwards.
The high ground is also bound by two watercourses, which for cartographers have always been evident, easy to represent limits.
I like to imagine those early mapmakers as, attracted by the beauty of the site, they hauled the tools of their trade wearily up to the level ground of the Abbey, or the top of the nearby hill of Santa Caterina, to survey the territory. The very special prospect that lay before them enabled them to observe a space that ranged as far as the coast of Istria, the hill country, and the peaks of the Julian and Carnian Alps.
This ability to switch scales, the opportunity to decipher a territory in detail, and at the same time to read it as a whole, must have been the reason behind the representation of lands made complex by their varied morphology, and a border that right down to our day has marked the life and sites of its populations.
If we ignore very ancient documents, the earliest representations of the area are the charts that describe the Patria del Friuli (Homeland of Friuli) from the sixteenth century onwards. Given the approximation and lack of accuracy that characterizes illustrations of the period, we will have to read these maps by referring to the place name Rosazzo, watercourses – the Torre torrential river and the river Natisone – the line of hills, and the main neighboring centers of population, Cividale del Friuli and Buttrio, or even the relatively distant towns of Udine or Gorizia.
One of the earliest, most important maps – in fact it is considered the most ancient printed map of the whole region – is La vera descritione del friuli & patria... by Giovanni Andrea Valvassori, known as Guadagnino, who published it in 1553. Its cartouche contains a brief geographic description of the Homeland of Friuli and its main population centers. On the map, we find the place name Rosacis (Rosazzo) and the mountains, depicted molehill-style of course, are “most bleak” while the watercourses of the Nadisone Fiume (River Natisone) and Lisontio (Isonzo) are clearly visible. Subsequent maps are little different from Guadagnino’s, both in their drawing and in the precision and detail with which the centers of population are depicted. Later on, maps become more refined in their drawing and in the representation of relief, but there are no substantial advances in the amount or quality of the information conveyed. Rosazzo is still Rosacis and the distinguishing features of the territory are unchanged. One interesting map from this period is by Paolo Forlani, known as Il Veronese, a famous Venetian printer. He copied earlier maps, especially those that could not be attributed to a specific author, a practise that continued to be popular throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
In the eighth decade of that century, other general maps of Friuli were printed, including the one that was included in Abraham Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. This was the first modern atlas, and one which would subsequently be published and reprinted many times by other printers and mapmakers. Although it depicts an out-of-proportion Istrian peninsula, it does introduce the modern place name Rosazzo, while at the same time understating the number of centers of population that actually existed. Later maps introduce no significant changes in place names, but they do improve their localization, and the identification of the hydrographic network.
Alongside these general representations, the drawings, maps, and charts of portions of territories drafted by the Republic of Venice also play a fundamental role. The Venetians’ aims were very focussed: they strove to safeguard health during epidemics, defend borders, establish exemption from taxation, design hydraulic or road works, or facilitate the division and sale of real property. The many papers in the custody of the Venice State Archive include some that refer to the territory we are examining. One such is a map drawn by hand in 1572, which shows Eastern Friuli from Cividale to Rosazzo. This watercolor and pen drawing may have been made to solve water-related disputes, especially in the area around Romanzacco. Unfortunately, the map is seriously damaged in the part that shows Rosazzo, but overall it has a wealth of place names. Villages are represented as groups of houses huddled around a church and bell tower.
In subsequent periods, despite technical progress and the abundant output of maps and atlases, a number of problems still remained to be solved. Key challenges were the already mentioned representation of relief, the precise definition of geographic coordinates, and the wide-scale application of triangulation. One response to these problems came in the eighteenth century, when military and political authorities began to realize the importance of cartography as a tool for administration and the management of property. This led to the creation within European national bureaucracies of special mapmaking institutions, which aimed to provide a scientific and, as far as possible, lifelike representation of the territory of each individual state. Between 1667 and 1721, Sweden, Austria, Dauphiné, Nice, Piedmont, and Sicily made maps that may have contained errors, especially in the precise determination of the geographic grid, but can certainly claim to be the forerunners of cartography in the modern sense. Building on, and inspired by, this experience and the vast quantity of data collected field topographers and geodetic surveyors, Cesare Cassini was able to produce from 1747 onwards his great geometric map of the whole of France, at a scale of 1:86400. This was the benchmark for all subsequent mapmakers and its publication signaled the birth of modern cartography.
Another vast initiative with a fundamental bearing on the evolution and history of cartography in the local area and beyond was also getting under way in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. This was the hugely ambitious mapmaking and territorial surveying project that drove the Napoleonic and Austrian land registers, the first systematic precision survey of property and taxation information, as well as population, territorial, and land-use data.
Thus it was that the geometric parcel-based land register arrived in Friuli with Napoleon’s troops. The administrative apparatus of the Kingdom of Italy, set up in 1807, would set in motion a systematic production of charts, maps, and other documents the continued until 1851, under both Napoleonic and Austrian rule. In fact, the two regimes melded into one, at least in this particular aspect of their activity.
The cadastre, or land registry, is a complex, organized documentary system including maps, territorial surveys predating its institution, and other documents required to precisely interpret information on the individual parcels on the map. The map section comprises a series of items, including the originale di campagna, the set of rectangular sheets, drawn using a Pretorian Table measuring device. From this, two copies were made, one to a reduced scale for the entire municipality and the residential center. The drawing is accompanied by a register, called the Sommarione, which lists each single parcel, noting place name, owner’s name, location, and crop type to provide data that could be used for tax purposes.
The maps were produced from field surveys carried out all over Friuli, initially from 1807 to 1813. Data collected went to make maps that described the territory in detail, providing us with what is almost a snapshot of land use at the time. Colors reinforce the descriptive impact, making these charts the obligatory point of departure for any evolutionary reconstruction of the landscape. In addition to sheets that cover broad portions of the territory, the maps include various “close-ups” of the centers of population, smaller settlements, and farm communities, describing them in greater detail. Each chart also features a series of more technical signs, such as arrows indicating the direction of river currents, and dotted or broken lines to mark ridges, valleys, or borders. Each portion, or “parcel,” and each building, is distinguished by a number of letter of the alphabet to facilitate cross-referencing with information in the corresponding sommarione.
Crucial to the identification of sites are the captions with place names or the names of neighboring municipalities and subregions within the larger municipal territory. These maps therefore represent what the surveyors were able to see directly in the field: roads, watercourses, houses, workshops, residential centers, paths, and other locations. But they also show what was not directly visible, yet strategically important for the new system, such as lines separating farmland from land left fallow, or municipal boundaries and those of privately owned estates. On this basis, a strict tax regime came into being, but the effort also produced if not a definitive picture of land ownership at least a detailed portrait of the community’s social and economic organization.
In 1851, the campaign closed with the drawing of new maps on rectangular sheets and a registry system that enabled the administration to trace the history of each parcel.
The Udine State Archive contains more than a thousand reduced-scale maps. Here, we shall look at two of them, which refer to the census municipalities of Rosazzo and Corno, and a small map of a portion of territory in the census municipality of Brazzano.
The maps are rolled around a wooden support embellished with two shaped knobs. On the other side, the wooden support comprises a concave casing that ensures the map is properly closed and protected. The map itself is made of paper glued onto linen, decorated with a green ribbon that runs along the two free edges of the sheet. All the maps were reproduced on a reduced scale from the originale di campagna, and represent the surface of the census municipalities of the Dipartimento of Passariano, the name of which appears at the top of the drawing. At the foot of the drawing, we find the signatures of the engineer in charge of the office of technical drawers based in Milan, the director of the land registry, and the two technicians who reproduced and revised the chart. The maps themselves are drawn in ink and watercolors. All indicate north and the scale, expressed in canne di due metri (two-meter rods), which represent the ratio of the reduction to real lengths calculated in the unit of measurement used in the course of the survey.
In order to read these charts correctly, we will have to supplement consultation of the map with an examination of the sommarione. This document contains information on the owner’s name, the place name, the surface area, and the category of farming that was, or could be, practiced on each location, taking into account the soil type of each parcel. In this way, we can run through the residents’ names, surnames, and family connections. We find long lists of place names that reflect rural customs or features of the countryside. We discover that farmland was used to grow some crops that we know well, and others that are no longer sown. We can reconstruct the outlines of farm buildings, and the way the watercourses running through population centers were exploited, pinpointing early workshops and craft activities.
This is the approach we have selected, proposing one or two suggestions and keys to interpretation, tools that will be useful to anyone who decides to take the subject further and embark on a private journey through the fascinating world of land registry maps and charts.
The map of Rosazzo, which joins onto the neighboring municipality of Corno, enables us to reconstruct a countryside populated by large and small farms. The only centers of population are the villages of Case and Oleis, the latter an ancient place name that derives from olive growing. And as we pore over the sommarione, we find quite a number of parcels devoted to growing olives, often in conjunction with vines, as the frequent crop category vigna a ronco con ulivi (cleared vineyard with olive trees) testifies. Nevertheless, grapes are the main crop and vines are planted on both flatland and hillside sites: vigna a ronco (cleared or hillside vineyard), ronco vitato (hillside under vine), aratorio vitato (arable land under vine), and prato vitato (meadowland under vine), along with other plots and sites where bosco ceduo forte (thick deciduous woodland), ripa boscata (wooded slope), pascolo cespugliato (shrubland pasture), pascolo con brughiera (moorland pasture), or plain aratorio (arable land) are interspersed with a particular kind of barren land with meagre vegetation called zerbo, which was sometimes patchily covered with shrubs. Other important features on the map are the Abbey of Rosazzo and the network of paths joining the estates and the water network that includes the significant – for Livio Felluga since it lent its name to one of his wines– name of the Sosò (Sossó) torrential stream.
From these few notes, we already have some idea of how suitable for wine the land around Rosazzo was as long ago as the early nineteenth century, but there are more surprises if we look at the place names on the map, and particularly at the many reported in the registers. These are derived fromindividuals, saints, plants, places or animals. Many come from Latina, but the most characteristic are of Germanic or Lombard origin, such as braida (small fenced field), bando (forbidden place), bearz (grassland next to a house) and the very common ronc (woodland cleared for pasture, from the Latin runcare), and many other place names that refer to the type of fields or to uncultivated land.
Here are some fascinating examples: braida bassa (lower field), braiduzza (little field), braida della tesa (a field prepared for bird-catching), braida longa (long field), braide dal bosc (wood field); ronco civico (town clearing), ronchi di Rosazzo (Rosazzo clearings), ronchi Romano (Romano clearings), roncat (rough clearing); campo de ancona (tabernacle field), campo della chiesa (church field), campo del Sasò (Sasò field), campo del riul (stream field), campo de busate (hollow field), campo del clap (stone field), campo des pociatis (well field), prat di sot (lower meadow), prat dal lôf (wolf meadow), noglaret (hazel grove), pascut (little pasture), banz (forbidden place) and many more.
We find the same features on the map of Corno, here supplemented by denser human habitation, a more developed road system, and a border with the territories of the Habsburg Empire along the river Judrio. Some features that should be pointed out are the special use of shading technique to represent relief, and the emplacement for the Guardiano del Judri and a wooden bridge over the Corno just below the village of the same name.
The map is a mediator and a passage across the Judrio to Brazzano, the final stage of our journey through the land registry. Here we are on the other side of the frontier, in the Austrian Empire, where there used to be and still is today a different, register-based land registry system. Fortunately, we found in the Udine State Archive a small topographic map of a “portion of the territory of Brazzano with Giassico that lies on the right bank of the Judrio.” This small drawing uses watercolor to accurately show the range of crops and the areas set aside as meadows and pastureland along the banks of the river.
The Udine State Archive may not have been very helpful for the territory of the Austrian Empire, but it did enable us to find a series of small maps relating to the properties of the Florio family at Brazzano. One of these, by the technician Bianchi Miglioranza, is a superb ink drawing dated 22 May 1668, which offers a bird’s-eye view of the hill of San Giorgio and the main family residence at Brazzano. Bianchi Miglioranza describes the access roads and paths in great detail, giving us a full account of the vegetation, the church and its bell tower, the parish priest’s house, and the village of Brazzano. In particular, he describes how the hillsides are terraced and planted to vines trained over living trees, near to the ancient communal farm buildings.
The notes, field jottings, bills for work carried out, laborers’ paybooks, agents’, and tenant farmers’ property records, and accounts of various kinds include a series of small eighteenth-century files on good-quality paper. These are the land registry entries for the Florio family at Brazzano and Visinale. The documents indicate the crop types and areas planted, and are accompanied by superb watercolor maps to scale of the plots, with all the boundaries marked. All the little maps are decorated with compass roses that make these tiny jewels of cartography quite unique. Here, too, the crops are clearly indicated: cleared woodland, arable fields planted to vine, meadows, enclosed fields, and last but not least vineyards.
With this discovery, we bring to an end our journey around Rosazzo and Brazzano, the places of Livio Felluga. But the history of cartography in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries made huge progress. Better trained topographers emerged and national institutes produced increasingly accurate, scientifically drawn maps, thanks in part to the solution of orographic problems with the introduction of contour lines, and the refinement of systems of geographical reference. But that is another story.
The twentieth century saw the arrival of Livio Felluga, and Livio's Map. Thanks to this iconic symbol, we have been able to make a journey through maps, land registers, topographers, cartographers, place names, and river names. Above all, the map label has enabled us to discover a small corner of a territory whose cultural landscape is a vital key to its appreciation. It is a landscape to observe, read, and travel; a landscape to discover, understand, love and appreciate. It is a landscape where we can savor to the full the many subtleties of a space that has been experienced and shaped by the life of a community, a town, and a region. This is a land that still preserves the close, fruitful relationship between wine and the soil from which it springs.
And so our invitation is the same as the geographer’s at the end of the Little Prince’s tale, when the hero asks him to recommend a place to visit. “The planet Earth”, replies the geographer. “It has a good reputation.”
By Mauro Pascolini taken from the book "Fifty Years of the Map – Story of a Journey All Around”.
© 2006 Gaspari Editore
© 2006 Livio Felluga