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Traditional Arts and Crafts activities in Sauris, in Friuli Venezia Giulia

One of the authentic villages in Italy

In Italy there are some places that have kept all the charm of the past intact. These are small villages that even today continue to carry on the ancient traditions and typical local customs. One of the most striking is the craftsmanship that is practiced in Sauris a small town in the province of Udine in Friuli Venezia Giulia. Italian Traditions will guide you on the discovery of this place characterized by a particular history. In fact we will tell you the story and the legend of Sauris. We will also present the craft activities that still take place in this village.

What is Sauris?

Sauris is a small Italian town with just over 400 inhabitants located in the province of Udine in the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. In particular it is in the mountain region of Carnia in Val Lumiei. It is a German-speaking enclave inside the Italian territory, and, as such, it is protected. It was created and has developed thanks to an isolation that lasted for centuries. In the municipality there is an artificial lake among the largest in Friuli. This was created thanks to the damming of the Lumiei stream.

Its history

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The first inhabitants of these places came from the valleys on the border between Carinthia and the Tyrol around the second half of 1200. For seven centuries the descendants lived in harmony with the alpine nature. In fact they cultivated only those species that adapted to this particular climate. During the summer months the cattle were brought to graze on the high pasturelands. At the same time the isolation of the place was broken only by the commercial exchanges in an economy based on barter, allowing them to obtain, among other things, the salt indispensable for the preservation of food. Today the inhabitants of the village reinterpret some of the traditional activities in a modern key. The main ones being:

  • crafts
  • agri-food production
  • tourism

The legend

A popular legend tells how this community was founded by two German soldiers who had taken refuge in this isolated valley, probably deserting the German militia. Some versions of the legend indicate them as “Hunters” and certainly hunting was the activity with which they could initially sustain themselves on the territory.

They established their first settlement in what is now Sauris di Sotto, but they must have been independent and enterprising spirits since, as soon as they had started their respective families, one of the two left the original village to settle in the current Sauris di Sopra. This confirms that the main activity was hunting, which requires large portions of land to support growing communities.

The traditions

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The difficulty in accessing this harsh territory and the presence of a Germanic speaking population could make one think of an isolated community. This has been largely denied by the discovery of historical documents that show how the inhabitants of these places have always sought relations with neighboring peoples. Many of the habits of these people were indeed the combination of different cultures. In particular the Carnia and the German one. This contributed to the creation of the identity of this community.

The artisan shops

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The need to be self-sufficient pushed the inhabitants of these areas to make everyday products themselves. The extensive woods in the area provided the only raw material available on site, and the techniques developed in the processing and carving of wood have reached us today with objects produced and sold in the incredible local artisan shops, as well as the beautiful houses, true architectural jewels, often dating back to the seventeenth century and perfectly preserved.

In addition to perfecting carving and woodworking techniques, the winter period was dedicated to carpentry and maintenance work as well as weaving, developing a tradition that is still present today in garments and linens in the shops.

The geographical isolation of the community also allowed the growth of a gastronomic tradition based on long-life foods, and among these the “Prosciutto di Sauris” protected by the PGI brand and therefore produced only in this area.

Visiting Sauris

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Sauris has developed a non-mass tourism offer, consisting of family-run accommodation facilities and has joined the “Albergo Diffuso” initiative which allows visitors to rent perfectly restored homes even for short stays, and to experience in person the most authentic aspects of a unique local reality which is very united and friendly, without giving up any of today’s comforts.

In Italy there are communities with particular characteristics that carry on the ancient traditions still today. These are reinterpreted in a modern way to give life to unique objects. If you want to discover other fascinating Italian places we recommend reading this article too. Now that you know the Sauris crafts you have one more reason to visit these places.

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