The history of 

The Romans invaded England before conquering Triora!

 

History: Triora 9,000 years ago!

Neolithic hunter-gatherers are the earliest known inhabitants of Triora. They lived here c.7,000BCE.  Middle-Neolithic decorous artefacts, excavated nearby, are displayed in Triora's Local History Museum.

The Chalcolithic Age (c.3000BCE) brought an influx of people from the Languedoc region in southern France. With them came new cultural knowledge, burial rites, tools and weapons, and copper ore mining. A menhir (left) and a stone altar date from this time. They stand a short way north of Triora. Bronze Age sepulchral caves and grottos are also to be found locally. They testify to the growing sophistication of the post-Neolithic 'Triorans'.

 

 

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History: Caesar saw England before Triora!

During the early years of the Roman Empire, c.250BCE, the inhabitants of Triora were The Albingauni (the surname "Giauni" is extant in Triora to this day). They fought against the Romans, ensuring their valleys were the last in all of Italy to be conquered. Remnants of their Iron Age forts are to be found north of Triora. Rome failed to subdue the tribes of Triora and the impenetrable valleys of western Liguria until long after Julius Caesar's 800-ship invasion of England in 56BCE!

Triora prospered under Imperial Rome (left). The pagan temple no doubt changed to a church around 350CE when Christians arrived to evangelise the inhabitants. The C15th Church of the Assumption, located in Triora's main square, is built upon the site of this temple. It is said that parts of the temple remain, to be found below the church crypt.

Triora's population rose during the Dark Ages, partly due to an influx of refugees from coastal towns suffering the barbarian invasions (left). However, in 641 times caught up with the village. The Lombards, under King Rotari (left), took the village and held it through turbulence for more than a century, during which time there were incursions by Arabs, who sacked Triora in 730. Later in the same century The Franks drove out The Lombards and Triora came under the dominion of the Frankish Carolingian dynasty of Emperor Charlemagne. During this time building started on Triora's first great church, St.Peter & St. Marziano. It stood for 1000 years until 1878. Its columns and major stones are extant. They were used to decorate later churches and noble houses.

 

 
 

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History: Medieval Triora.

Around the year 900 the great grandson of Charlemagne, Berengar, became the first King of Medieval Italy. Under this reign Triora became a strategic village in one of three new defensive regions in Liguria: Arduinica (Turin, Nice and western Liguria). With a growing feudal economy, and the building of the first of its five medieval castles, Saint Dalmazzo, Triora survived the first millennium with its star firmly in the ascendant.

The power in Arduinica had come to rest with The Counts of Ventimiglia by 1100. Local wars with the neighbouring defensive region of Aleramica (Savona and central Liguria) caused the powerful Republic of Genoa to side with Aleramica. By 1190 Triora came under the influence of Genoa. Its owner, The Earl of Badalucco, sold it to Genoa, and swore its fidelity in 1261. Under Genoa Triora's 500 families prospered. That same year Genoa's rival, the growing mercantile empire of Venice, lost some influence due to the restoration of the Byzantine Empire in the east. This helped Genoa and, therefore, it helped Triora. It must have seemed like Triora had joined forces with the world's greatest power. 200 crossbowmen from Triora assisted in Genoa's spectacular defeat of another rival sea power, Pisa, at the battle of Meloria in 1284. Their successors partook in the late C13th and early C14th internecine conflicts between pro-Germanic 'Ghibelline' villages like Triora with pro-papacy 'Guelf' villages in neighbouring valleys, many of which Triora took. These wars were followed by The Black Death in 1348, which decimated the population.

The 1498 invasion by the French and the burning of part of the village under Charles VIII, of Valois, only dented the continuing prosperity of Triora, which reached its zenith in the C16th, when Genoa became a Spanish satellite state.   

 

 

 

History: The Witch Trials

Triora in the late C16th fell under the dark shadow of The Holy Inquisition. A year of bad weather and crop shortages in 1587 led to the accusation that witches were conspiring against Triora. A group of women from Triora and local villages were accused of sacrificing babies to The Devil.  They were tried, tortured, and burned alive between 1587-89."La Cabotina", the place of their blasphemous rites still exists.

Triora has eclipsed Loudun in France. It has become the 'Salem' of Europe! The International Witchcraft Museum is presently being built within the medieval Stella Palace on the main square. Every few years historians of witchcraft gather from around the world to hold their convention in Triora. The people of Triora re-enact the Witch Trials every autumn. Halloween in Triora is very special!

 
 

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History: The Renaissance to The Napoleonic Wars

During the C17th Spanish influence over the region declined, primarily because of the decline in interest in Mediterranean shipping after the new  Atlantic routes had opened. Ligurian interests turned inland. During this period Triora was bestowed with many important renaissance works of art, which can still be seen in the various churches.

By the early C17th over two hundred years of slate carving had turned Triora's streets into fascinating places to walk. Every noble house and palace doorway throughout Triora, and the neighbouring villages, boasted a portico to be proud of (2 shown, left). Each noble family had their own coat of arms. These and other heraldic devices were carved into the slate porticos, window frames, and decorous slate columns. A trigram, e.g. IHS, IHSUS, etc., or a  pictorial representation of Jesus Christ, e.g. The Lamb, carrying the flag of Genoa, was also a popular choice for portals, especially for houses where a family member was or had been parish priest. Often seen carved above apertures is the mythical zoo-type of Triora, a pair of fish-tailed dragons. No one  knows how many thousands of years old this representation is. Maybe it dates back to the pre-Roman Albingauni pagans.

In 1625 The Kingdom of Savoy-Piedmont, with French support, unsuccessfully lay siege to Triora.  They returned in 1671/2 and Triora became the centre of another bloody battle between the Piedmontese and Genoese. In 1685 Spain abandoned the region and Savoy-Piedmont finally got what it wanted.

In 1745 Triora was again occupied by Spanish troops, this time allied to France, warring against Austria.

Following The French Revolution, in 1792 French troops invaded Savoy-Piedmont. By 1794 the French, under Napoleon's General Massena (above left), were welcomed by pro-revolutionary Triorans. During this war against the Piedmontese monarchy, General Massena made Triora his headquarters. He stayed at Palazzo Borelli, one of the three palaces of Triora. Triora was rewarded by Napoleon who placed it at the head of a new revolutionary district called 'Valley Argentina'. By 1802 Triora and its valley had been absorbed into the new Napoleonic Republic of Liguria, thence in 1804 became part of The House of Bonaparte's Kingdom of Italy.

Upon the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 Triora and Liguria were handed to The Kingdom of Sardinia.

Sadly, during the occupation, a revolutionary ordinance of 1797 ordered the removal of any symbols reminding people of monarchy and royalty, including noble family coats of arms. This led to the defacing of many beautiful doorways in Triora. Amazingly many survived intact. They can all be seen today, alongside many other doorways with religious or mythical images.

 

 
 

 

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History: The Two World Wars

Triora lost 54 dead in World War I (1914-18), most falling whilst fighting Austria-Hungary in the Alps.

Before World War II, in preparation for conflict, Fascist Italy developed an underground fortress in the style of the French Maginot Line. It is called Fortress Cima Marta, and is located just north of Triora. The fortress survived the war more or less intact and it can be explored today. There are miles of corridors, gun emplacements, and other below ground casement features. There are also barracks upon the nearby Mount Grai but Triora was the main base for the wartime border guard troop units who staffed the fortress. Italy declared war on France in June 1940, over a month after Germany had done so, and just prior to France agreeing peace terms. Facing fascist-friendly Vichy France there was no action on this front until after the fall of the Italian fascist regime, and the Italian armistice with The Allies. Then, in late 1943 the Nazi German troops moved in to Triora. During early 1944 partisan activity increased. Germans were attacked in the streets of Triora. The Nazis took revenge by attacking Triora with 400 troops, laying explosives, burning houses, and shelling it. Seventy houses were partly or totally destroyed, and many people died.

To add insult to injury, in 1947 the war reparations committee gave a small part of Italy to France. That part included the neighbouring villages of Briga (now La Brigue) and Tenda (now Tende) and a huge tranche of Triora's territory, the four mountain summits that now mark Triora's border with France.

 

 

 

 

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History: Triora Today (& Our Three Oscar Nominee Film Celebrities).

Triora is one of the most beautiful places in Italy. Fact. In 2004 Triora was elected to the exclusive official list of "The (100) Most Beautiful Villages In Italy" ("I Borghi Piu Belli d'Italia"). In 2006 it was added to the prestigious "I Paesi Bandiera Arancione dal Touring Club Italia" (Italy's equivalent of something like the "AA guide" - but with only 100 exclusive locations!) To be in two top 100s in a country like Italy, a land with one of the richest cultural heritages in the world, is a very great achievement indeed. These honours reflect what Triora has to offer.

Triora is truly enjoying a renaissance. It has been granted funds to renovate damaged buildings of historical significance so that they can host international cultural events. All three of Triora's palaces are under-going massive renovation. The first, Palazzo Stella, on the main square in Triora, will be the new International Museum of Witchcraft Through The Ages. The second, Palazzo Borelli, where Napoleon's Field Marshall's stayed, is presently under-going full restoration. It is in private hands though there are plans to offer its grand spaces for common use at festival times. The third, Palazzo Capponi, the oldest palace in Triora, will become a cultural centre offering many facilities including a new restaurant. This 55-room medieval palace was recently bought by one of our three Oscar nomination film celebrities, the star of the 2003 Academy Awards Oscar nominated film (best foreign film category), "Elling". His name is Per Christian Ellefsen. He is Norway's favourite actor. Per Christian first came to Triora over 20 years ago and fell in love with it. He has been returning many times every year since.

Our second Oscar nomination celebrity came to Triora in 1982. He fell in love with it and by 1989 had bought an historic watermill in Molini di Triora, our sister-village of 23 watermills. In 2004 his film "Ondskan" was nominated for an Academy Award Oscar, also in the Best Foreign Film category. He is Hans Lönnerheden, Sweden's most successful film producer.

Our third Oscar nomination celebrity is an English composer and pianist, Francis Shaw. He has lived in the locale for more than thirty years. He has been writing film scores for two decades and recently wrote the score to the Academy Awards' Best Foreign Film nomination, "Evil".

Triora attracts special people. It is successful because it has always been able to renew, to re-build. These days Triora blends the cosmopolitan with the indigenous very well. This successful symbiosis creates its very own synergy. Those lucky few who have bought one of Triora's distinctive houses have discovered something they did not expect. Triora is far more than a mere holiday home. The usual adjectives of paradise or heaven don't do this former principality justice. The locals say that you should be careful what you wish for here, for oft-times a wish manifests itself. So, let us just say that the place offers the home buyer a certain ... magic.

 

 

 

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