Sacile

A short distance away from “Le Favole” Holiday Farmhouse lies the historic town of Sacile, which is known as the “garden of the Serenissima”, a name that has been handed down over the years. It is crossed and re-crossed by a meandering dark green river, the Livenza, whose canals are overlooked by graceful bridges.

The water is calm, silent as the Venetian lagoon and full of the reflections of romantic old houses. The beauty of this place takes something from the poignant quality of the Livenza as it winds its way around the houses and into the heart of the town. Here visitors can admire the large square of noble aspect and houses with mysterious and dark characteristic arcades; its sixteenth-century loggia, which was also a theatre, is now the town hall.

On the first Sunday after the Feast of the Assumption (15 August), the square is the setting for the Sagra dei Osei, or Bird Festival, of which Giovanni Comisso gave a masterly description in his book La Favorita. The festival actually dates back as far as 1274, when Sacile asked for the market of San Lorenzo, which was held outside the walls, to be moved to the square, and permission was granted. Visiting Sacile is a pleasure, lingering on the bridges that cross the Livenza is a further joy, and watching the cascades right in the centre of town is a surprise.

Then there is the cathedral, which was built on a 9th-century construction: it is dedicated to Saint Nicholas, has three naves and many works of art, including an altarpiece by Palma the Younger for the Madonna del Rosario. The well-balanced facade is perfect; next to it is the bell-tower dating back to 1568. The palazzos, in the centre and a little further out, have an unusual charm. Famous visitors to Sacile include Giovanni Pascoli and Gabriele D’Annunzio. The latter returned to the town at the start of the First World War between one daring aviation feat and the next.