The Montello

The Montello is a ‘weird’ hill made of red ground, that rises among the plains at a height of 300 meters. It is just south of the Piave river, that made it perfect for human settlements in the past.

The Montello is a wooded scarcely inhabited area, but it rises right next to a number of high density vibrant towns and villages, the most important of which is Montebelluna. The hill’s characteristic red ground is due to it’s formation as an alluvial deposit formed around 60 and 5 million of years ago. The Montello’s landscape is mostly oak woodland, that was protected by the Venice most serene republic laws, in fact, the ‘most serene woodland’ was the reserve for Venice’s navy shipyards. During it’s rule, the Republic of Venice brought in this area peace and stability, allowing for the cultivation of new crops. 

Venetians in fact, were immediately aware of the value of new crops arriving from the American continent: potatoes, corn, beans, tomatoes and some new types of grapevine. 

Since 1471  the most serene republic of Venice was directly involved with the preservation of the Montello, as a wood reserve for the navy. To protect the woodland in 1515 a few ‘saltari’ were appointed as woodlands protectors, and in 1527 the first ‘captain of the woodlands’ was elected, he was involved in the surveillance and protection of the woodland with the help of a few horsemen guards. These policies were put in place to protect the woodland to provide for a constant and high quality wood for the ‘Arsenale’ navy shipyard. No one was allowed to cut or trim trees without the authorization of Venice officials, even people cutting young oaks by mistake were punished. During the ‘cultivation’ of oak a special treatment that consisted in specific cuts and bends was used to shape the trees for specific parts of navy ships. Such forestry skills were extremely advanced for the times. However, with the fall of the republic of Venice, the careful protection of The Montello woodlands came to an end. With the rise of the Republic of Italy, the woodland was almost completely chopped down, and assigned to poor people or sold to private investors to extend crop areas.

Unfortunately, the lack of superficial rivers didn’t allow for the development of agriculture, and therefore, the woodland promptly regrew. During the first world war the Montello was a strategic fortified area in the frontline, that meant for the partial deforestation of the area. The war also brought to the destruction of the majority of historical sites. On the clayey hills of the Montello, the weather is dry during summer and rigid during winter. The steep sides of the hill and the particular conformation of the terrain allows for the vineyards to be perfectly exposed to sunlight, allowing them to survive the harsh winter conditions. Due to these specific conditions, the grapevines growing in the Montello are characterized by a low quantity – high quality grape production