Fiavè: Life on Stilts

February 9, 2015 / Art & Archaeology
Fiavè, Trentino Alto-Adige
Fiave: Life on Stilts | ©ThePalladianTraveler.comLong before Amsterdam, Venice and the Kingdom of Paeonia, but sometime after the Flintstones of Bedrock, a small prehistoric tribe near Fiavè, in the Trentino area of northern Italy, drove lengthy wooden piles down into Lago Carera and constructed one of mankind’s very first above-water communities.

They don’t call this part of Europe “old as mud” for nothing, as evidenced by the remains of those 7-9 m long wooden stilts peering back at me just above the surface of the now glacial basin-turned-peat bog.

Fiave: Life on Stilts | ©

Fiave: Life on Stilts | ©
Fiave: Life on Stilts | ©
Fiave: Life on Stilts | ©ThePalladianTraveler.comLooking around at this little speck of history really got my Vespa running. I needed to do some digging of my own and get to the bottom of this story about life on prehistoric stilts, so I headed over to the nearby Il Museo delle Palafitte di Fiavè (Pile Dwellings Museum of Fiavè).

Fiave: Life on Stilts | ©ThePalladianTraveler.comFlashing my press credentials, I’m immediately handed off to Angelo Parisi who serves as my guide on a private, in-depth tour of this brand new, three-story, state-of-the-art facility that occupies the old Casa Carli in the center of Fiavè.

Fiave5_WMDevoted entirely to those ancient “holes in the ground making history,” the museum is laid out to illustrate — via plenty of interactive audio-visual screens, colorful static displays and glass cases filled with precious artifacts — the seven stages of the three prehistoric communities that lived around the glacial basin between the late Neolithic Age and the recent Bronze Age.

Fiave: Life on Stilts | ©

Fiave: Life on Stilts | ©ThePalladianTraveler.comThe Lake Carera finds are part of an overall 111 locations of prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps fully recognized by UNESCO and designated as World Heritage sites.

On the third floor, and the last stage of the tour, visitors can experience “A day in a pile dwelling.” It’s a complete, scale mock-up of this community constructed on stilts some 3,400 years ago.

Fiave: Life on Stilts | ©  Fiave: Life on Stilts | ©

Fiave: Life on Stilts | ©ThePalladianTraveler.comFollowing the tour, I took a stroll around the museum’s park-like grounds with the impressive bird house sculpture out back and the angled, symbolic stilts that front the museum’s entryway.

Fiave: Life on Stilts | ©  Fiave: Life on Stilts | ©

I give Il Museo delle Palafitte di Fiavè and the archeological site at Lago Carera “two thumbs” way up; or, in the words of Fred Flintstone, Yabba-dabba-doo!

by Tom Weber

Tom is a veteran print-broadcast journalist who resides in the Colli Euganei (Euganean Hills) in the province of Padova in the Veneto region of northestern Italy. He hosts the eclectic travel/foodie/photography blog The Palladian, is a regular contributor to Los Angeles-based, and is a member of the International Travel Writers Alliance. Feel free to follow Tom as he “meanders along the cobblestone to somewhere.”

10 Responses to “Fiavè: Life on Stilts”

  1. Mari Louise

    How very cool! Thanks so much for the story–I can just imagine Fred and Wilma hanging about. . . .

  2. Hazel Rotondo Potvin

    This was very interesting. I remember reading about these villages on stilts back in third grade geography which would have been 1953. I had not run across any information since. One of the many places I’d like to visit.

  3. Jack Litewka

    A great find. Added to my list of things to see on my next trip to Italy. Thanks!

  4. Pat Carney Ceccarelli
    Pat Carney Ceccarelli

    Fascinating! Really enjoyed this post Tom. I love it when new vistas open up, quite literally, opening the mind to new perspectives. Many thanks.


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