This post is also available in: Italian

Pove del Grappa is a municipality in the Brenta valley in Veneto just below Monte Grappa. Its territory starts from over 1,529 meters above sea level, with the summit of Monte Asolone, and reaches down to 100 meters above sea level at the end of the Po Valley and is the most northerly town where olive trees are grown. Thanks to a sunny position and the protection of the mountains, the olive trees brought here by the Romans grow, and an excellent DOC oil is produced, so much so that the town is called the ‘Conca degli Ulivi’ (Valley of Olives).

The large altitude difference naturally divides the town between the valley area near the river and the Valsugana road that connects the plain with Trento, the hillside where are the trenches and tunnels of the First World War and the mountain area with woods, alpine pastures and groups of holiday houses.

The history of Pove and this territory begins with the population by the Venetians, then absorbed by the Romans in the second century BC. who divided the territory into centurias. The Romans structured the plain with the hydraulic works necessary for agriculture and sheep were bred in this area for wool. You can still recognize the ancient traces of seasonal migration between the Asiago plateau and the Po valley. A road through the foothills connected the area with the large Via Augustea which led to Germany.

Its name derives from Latin words: one theory connects it to povedum or ‘poplars’ and another to poa, a grass plant that was used for forage.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, hordes of barbarians arrived, including the Lombards in 568, and the plain population took refuge on better defensible hills including that of Pove.

The construction of a Benedictine monastery with the church of San Bartolomeo dates back to this period. This was a monastic order that was born to preserve culture of the agricultural fields and to make it available to the population.

The first document that mentions the fortress of Pove dates back to 917 in which it is included in the Marca Trevigiana, not a real marquisate but rather a territorial indication. Perhaps a small fortress, inside which there was what is now the church of Saint Peter, which also had to resist the invasions of the Huns from Hungary.

Around the 11th century, the whole territory was governed by the Lordship of the Ezzelini and in 1160 Pove also entered this lordship led by Ezzelino II. On the Cornon you can find traces of the foundations of one of the ancient fortresses of these lords.

After the death of Ezzelino III, called the tyrant, in 1259, all the towns of the area joined with the nearby Bassano del Grappa and then in 1320 fell back under the control firstly of the Scaligeri of Verona, then in 1339 of the Da Carrara of Padua and in 1388 of the Visconti of Milan.

Pove was on paths that connected central Europe with the plain and in 1300 a Bohemian pilgrim, who was going to Rome for the Jubilee, sculpted a Christ on the Cross as thanks for the hospitality. The sculpture is still found in the church of San Vigilio and has given rise to the Festa del Crocifisso (Feast of the Crucifix) which is still held every 5 years.

In 1404 Pove then entered the territories of the Republic of Venice that was interested in the supply of wood from the forests and the transport of that timber  along the Brenta to the Arsenale.

In 1509 the Austrian army, which had made an alliance with the French and the Spanish and the papacy of Julius II, clashed in this area against the Republic of Venice.

German soldiers were fought by populations loyal to the Serenissima despite the devastation and fires they had caused even in Pove. The destruction they wrought was not enough and the Germans were defeated in Padua.

The Republic of Venice brought some well-being until the arrival of famines and then of the plague in 1631.

In the 1700s, after the death of Charles II of Habsburg, Austria and France fought over the succession and the armies clashed several times in the plains of Veneto bringing destruction and hunger.

The Polish succession war between Russia, Prussia and Austria against France and Spain also caused further conflicts which, combined with natural disasters, brought hunger and misery.

The decline of Venice, then, eased control over the area and a period of banditry began where gangs of criminals attacked the residents.

In this century, the art of stonemasons was developed thanks to the marble quarries of Monte Grappa from which Biancone, similar to Carrara marble, pink Guaregno, Corsoduro and Campaniletto of gray color were extracted.

This is the marble used by Canova for the temple of Possagno. The stonemasons of Pove reached such levels of mastery that they worked at the Procuratie of Venice in the Napoleonic period and throughout Europe.

With the arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte and the end of the Republic of Venice, the whole area of ​​the Brenta Valley came under the dominion of Austria and France who fought for its control. Pove and the other towns were considered only to the extent that they could produce the necessary goods for the occupying armies.

The French administratively organized the area by dividing it into departments and placing Pove and the other towns under the management of the Bacchiglione department of Vicenza.

With the end of Napoleon and the Treaty of Vienna, in 1815 Veneto became part of the Lombard-Veneto Kingdom controlled by Austria.

The start of tobacco cultivation activities and an improvement in the extraction of marble and stone processing by local stonecutters dates back to this new administrative phase.

The Kingdom was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy in 1866 with a plebiscite after the third war of independence.

The outbreak of the First World War once again saw the Venetian plains and mountains with their trenches as one of the main battlegrounds, this also brought misery. In 1917 Pove del Grappa was bombed with grenades.

After the defeat of Caporetto, the population of Pove was evacuated and taken to Bassano del Grappa while the town was transformed into a camp and concentration hospital for prisoners.

At the end of the war many emigrated abroad in search of a better fortune and today Pove is a renowned centre for oil, and the industriousness of businesses and artisans.


Traveller's Guide to Italy