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Sernaglia della Battaglia
The term ‘Sernaglia’ does not have precise origins from an etymological point of view. On the other hand, historians suggest that the territory’s history is deeply linked to the Great War. After the Retreat of Caporetto in October 1917, the Sernaglia plain suddenly found itself on the front line, forcing its inhabitants to search for refuge in towns located beyond the hills—primarily in Vittoriese and Friuli.

A year of hardships and privations began. With the exception of its spinning mill’s chimney stack, the entire town was destroyed under the fire of Montello’s Italian artillery. One of its prime targets was the town’s high bell tower, built in 1620 according to a design by Sansovino. The bell tower room had been transformed into an observation point which the Austrians used to survey the entire northern side of the Montello. On October 29, the Battle of Sernaglia was finally won, allowing for the Vittorio Veneto Road to be opened.

In the years following Italian unification, citizens of Sernaglia played a significant role in the emigration phenomenon that saw many of its inhabitants move to North and South America. In the twentieth century, its townsfolk opted for seasonal emigration to towns on the other side of the Alps, especially toward ‘the two Savoys’ (France and Switzerland). This trend was so widespread, that in the 1960s, 90% of the municipality’s male population was ‘absent due to emigration’.

In 1967, this trend gave rise to Sernaglia’s ‘Emigrant Community’. The first of its kind in Italy, this association was designed to create a network for emigrant workers abroad, providing assistance thanks to a ‘solidarity fund’. The association’s intent was to help meet the needs of those who worked abroad. It was also dedicated to providing support to family members remaining at home. The initiative proved extremely successful and it wasn’t long before it spread to other municipalities. That same year, Sernaglia inaugurated a monumental fountain designed to commemorate the town’s emigrants. The stone used to support the sculpture hosts an urn that was filled with soil sent by emigrants living in 16 nations; all five continents are represented.

 Local citizens have always referred to the area’s migratory phenomenon using an expression that reflects bitter irony. The so-called ‘suitcase industry’ represented their sole chance for economic well-being. This trend began to wane in the 1970s and stopped altogether by the end of the 1980s, when small industries and business linked to craftsmanship began to spread throughout the area.

Info: Municipality of Sernaglia della Battaglia

Photo: Municipality of Sernaglia della Battaglia
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