|HISTORY OF TREVISO|
"....We found Treviso...
in our wanders...
full of clear
the joys of love...
which there are
(Fazio degli Uberti)
Trevso's origins are lost in the depths of time. One cannot
even say, with certainty, where its name comes from. There
are those who attribute the name to the Celtic tarvos
meaning bull, those to trev which in Gaelic means "village
of timber", and those who attribute it more picturesquely to
tre-visi meaning three faces: a little figure with
three faces remains as if in testimony, in front of the
municipal seat of Ca' Sugana.
We do know that Treviso's fluvial origins influenced the
changes in its geohistory and determined its landscape (Tessari).
In a poetic sense, Treviso is indeed a gift of the Sile and Cagnan rivers.
The first centre of habitation is thought to have been in St.
Andrea during the venetian-celtic migration. Here a small
emporium was built, beginning as a fluvial port, between
the confluences of the Siletto and the Cagnan in Sile rivers.
The latest finds in Treviso's antiquity came to light in the
Piazza dei Signori, as described in a monograph written for
"Treviso Nostra" by Professor Giuliano Palmieri and edited
At the beginning of the summer of 1974, a private company
carried out an excavation to a depth of about six metres,
most of the material excavated being lost during its removal
from the site. A small amount, however, finished up in a
garden on the city's edge and from this a good portion was
recovered, becoming the object of an exhibition at St.
Caterina in 1977. Thousands of ceramic fragments were
exhibited, along with a fair number of objects made of
bronze, deer horn and carved bone, as well as stone spatulas,
plaster (which was used in huts), wood and remains of a
paste made from animal bones. Chronologicafly, the materials
ranged from the roman to the middle-recent bronze eras. The
city's life was thence clearly documented from the 15th
century A.D. to the present day.
Returning to the question of Treviso's origins, the first
settlement at St. Andrea soon saw its small timber and straw
huts expanding onto the other banks of the canals and
irrigation ditches. The village grew, quietly but steadily,
becoming bigger and assuming the aspect of a town.
Romans called the town Tarvisium when they reached the
Veneto region at the beginning of the second century A.C.,
but granted the people of their occupied territory latin
citizenship only much later. Treviso then became a roman "municipality", subscribing to the tribe of Claudia,
a seat of administrative and commercial activity. The
territory submitted to the centurions, who were gathered in
the city around the "cardine massimo" and the "decumano
massimo", identified, with some imagination, as today's via
Martiri della LibertÓ (from the piazza Borsa to piazza S.
Leonardo) and Calmaggiore - via Indipendenza respectively.
The site of the "carubio" is more uncertain, however, logic
pointing to the "croxe de via" or "cross-roads", where the
Loggia dei Cavalieri is found.
THE BARBARIC INVASIONS
From the year 401, Italy, and the Veneto region, were prey
to the barbarians (firstly the Visigoths and Alarico and
then the Huns, led by the ferocious Attila) who brought
death and destruction, and caused the fall of the Roman
Empire, in 476.
After this, the Ostrogoths led by Theodore came, soon
followed by the Byzantines and Belisario who occupied
Treviso in 540. The Goths, however, unexpectedly arrived a
year later, defeating the Byzantines and leaving a certain
Badiulla in command of the city's military garrison.
Badiulla was nephew to King Ildibaldo, better known as
Totila (the victorious one) who later also became King of
the Goths, dying in combat at Tagina in 552. Badiulla was
mistakenly believed a Trevisan citizen and his image was
thus immortalised on a medallion which even today is awarded
to worthy citizens by the civil administration.
After a brief return of the Byzantines (553-568) hordes of
Longobards arrived form the Pannonia, commanded by King
Alboino whose wife Rosmunda later had murdered by an esquire
in Verona, in 574. Treviso was saved by Bishop Felice who
met Alboino on the banks of the Piave near Lovadina, and
secured Alboino's promise not to attack the city. It would
also appear that from this meeting a sincere friendship was
born: Treviso was certainly always favourably looked upon by
the Longobards. It became the seat of a Dukedom, then of a
chamberlain whose function was to look after the crown's
riches. In 757, Treviso became the location for an important
mint where the golden "tremissi" were struck for King
Desiderio: the mint continued its activity until the
dominion of the Serenissima (Republic of Venice) for whom
the "bagattini" coins were struck. But even the reign of the
Longobards was destined to fade, despite the marriages of
Desiderio's daughters (Ermengarda and Gerberta) to
Carolingian princes. In 773, defeated by enemy armies,
Desiderio died, forgotten, in a small french monastery.
Carlo Magno thus became unopposed lord of the Longobard
dominion in Italy in 774, leaving one of his governors in
Treviso (where he arrived April 16, 776) who was,
unfortunately, killed during an insurrection. This incident
renewed fighting and mourning, until the city finally
submitted, unwillingly, to the Franks.
It is at this point that the legendary undertakings of the
champion Orlando, who arrived following the armies of Carlo
Magno, make their mark on Treviso's history. It is said that
in an open field near Treviso, despite being heavily
outnumbered, he confronted and defeated the 30.000 Saracens
who fled within a few hours. In heartfelt gratitude to God
for his remarkable victory, Orlando erected on this spot a
chapel dedicated to the archangel Michael. This place could
also be perhaps where, many centuries later, the hamlet of
Sant'Angelo was to grow: a Latin inscribed marble tablet
found above one of the side doors inside the old parish
church recording this legendary episode seems to confirm
With the death of Carlo Magno in 814 and the fall of the
Holy Roman Empire, Treviso began to hope for renewed freedom.
Unfortunately, it had to suffer other bitter episodes: the
invasion of the Hungarians who devastated the city in 898;
the dominion of Berengario, Marquis of the Friuli region and
later King of Italy (killed in Verona in 924); and, finally,
the edicts of emperor Otto I of Saxony, who in 952 decreed
the union of the Venezie to the Dukedom of Bavaria.