The Livenza is a perennial river which flows along an evocative urban landscape; its banks, the countryside and the natural landscape intensify its charm and invite visitors to indulge a bit longer with their camera’s lenses.
The river Livenza
“Flumen Liquentia ex montibus Opiterginis…” even Pliny quoted the river Livenza. While the Latin author referred to it in the feminine gender, today the masculine gender prevails, after the fact that “river” is a masculine name in Italian. The origin of the name “Livenza” may be found in the Latin term livens, from the verb livere (to be of a livid colour); another option may be liquens, from the verb liqui (to be liquid, to melt). In ancient times, it was called Liquentia, also because at the foot of the mount its abundant waters flow clear, cold and silent on pebbles, seemingly melting into one another.
Sacile’s distinctive river is certainly one of the most beautiful rivers in the plains of Northern Italy. It served as a communication route, as an extreme defence for the rising Venetian Domination, and as a source of life thanks to its water flow and abundance of fish. The Livenza was quoted by Greek and Latin authors: it marked the border between the territories of the ancient Venetians and the lands of the Celts-Carni tribes. It was used as a navigable river from very ancient times until the Republic of Venice, when it became extremely important for trade with Northern Europe and for the development of Sacile. In 1577, the noble Giacomo Ragazzoni owned eight industrial buildings on the river, all working thanks to the power of water: mills, cloth factories, paper mills, ironworks for swords. These references highlight the importance of Sacile in history as a production and trade centre under the Republic of Venice. Big boats sailed up-river from Venice with the help of horses to bring any kind of goods, which would then be sold in the inland. The boats then descended with the stream bringing back with them the wood from the forest of Cansiglio. Sacile’s historical centre was born from a tight relation with the river: “portus Sacili”, the present-day Piazza del Popolo, was a dock for merchant ships.
The Livenza is characterized by a high water flow; its level depends on the climate and on the hydrographic context characterized by abundant rainfall, a large catchment basin and the karstification involving the adjacent Pre-Alpine mountainous area. The phenomenon of karstification has led to a significant accumulation of underground water, which feeds the perennial springs of the river: the stream Gorgazzo and Santissima in Polcenigo area, and Molinetto in Caneva. The Livenza is particular because it has no mountain stretch. It starts at the foot of the most external Alpine foothills of Mount Cavallo and after just a few kilometres it turns into an actual river with a high water flow, which made it navigable already back in ancient times.
By weaving its way to the Adriatic Sea, appearing and disappearing in natural meanders, the river creates a perfect balance between geometry and nature, which is part of the appeal of every city by the river.
The Livenza also preserves a precious, complex environmental and ecological heritage, offering many natural and mainland habitats. There are various types of willows as well as aspens, elms, alders, rare oaks with their precious trunks under which small brightly coloured flowers lie, contrasting with the deep green of the vegetation mirroring in the waters. Among them, a very rare plant stands out: Ludwigia palustris.
Another interesting feature is the presence of the so-called “smorte”, meanders that have been abandoned by the river, becoming slowly and progressively covered in soil. Countless species of plants find shelter in these areas. Thanks to its naturalistic peculiarities, the “smorta” in Cavolano is an extremely valuable natural heritage.
“For all the former Venetian state, Sacile is the centre, the focus which can connect Germany with Venice.
Sacile has its Royal River, well known in history and geography: the quiet Livenza with its majestic course… Extremely deep up to its spring, which is nearly six miles away, it produces precious fish.”
Statistic topographic description of Sacile from the early Nineteenth century.