Meet Buttrio

Meet Buttrio

The bell tower

The bell tower, inspired by Venetian architecture, seems to evoke the architectural style of the St. Mark’s Campanile in Venice, a model for many architects.

With its height of 60.8 meters, including the golden ball surmounted by the large cross at the top – a gift from Master Natale Stefanutti (1859-1938) – the bell tower rises above the rooftops of Buttrio, becoming a true landmark even from a distance.
Its history is rather tumultuous: the earliest records date back to 1606, when restoration work was initiated due to its considered perilous condition. From 1743 to 1789, further interventions were carried out, but its condition deteriorated to the point that in 1794, it was demolished and rebuilt.

In 1828, the new bell tower was designed by engineer Leonardo Prisani, who identified the various tasks to be carried out and the precise location to build it: the new tower was erected near the parish church, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, and the cemetery wall, a rather central location within the urban fabric of the village.

Finally, around 1850, the bell tower had its foundations, base, shaft, and bell chamber, but the spire was temporary. It was only built in 1936, on the occasion of the second centenary of the church, based on the design by Leone Morandini of Cividale, and it was inaugurated on September 20, 1936.

The bell chamber houses a concert of three bells in the Friulian C major system: two were cast in 1921 by the Broili company, and the mezzanine bell dates back to 1953 and was made by De Poli of Udine.

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The bell tower clock

Buttrio is also known for its famous and unique clock called “orloi”.Its two dials are located on both the eastern and western sides of the bell tower, with the hours on the dial marked in reverse.

The distinctive feature of this artifact, which was created between 1836 and 1837, lies in the arrangement of Roman numerals: VI above and XII below. The clock hands move in a clockwise direction, but the dial’s plane appears rotated by 180°. Additionally, the shape of the dial and the hands is also peculiar.

Typically, clock dials are circular or square, rarely is a rectangular dial like this: it almost resembles a window or a balcony with two protruding stone frames. However, it fits perfectly with the graceful line of the bell tower.

Why is the dial upside down?

We can only speculate: one version suggests that the architect wanted to add a touch of originality to evoke his creative spirit. Indeed, G. B. Bassi (1792-1879), a distinguished mathematics professor, had a humorous temperament and a penchant for jokes, so much so that he gave himself the nickname “Giambatta,” poking fun at the fact that he had a limp.

Another theory refers to the possibility of economic issues arising between the parish and the construction company or the designer, and out of spite, the clock was installed upside down. In the absence of certainty, legends, anecdotes, and curiosities abound about theorloi for example, in the card game of briscola, the ace of coins in Buttrio is called “l’orloi di Buri.”

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The castle

The castle stood on the site where Villa Morpurgo (or “Castel Morpurgo”) now stands, placed in a strategic position on the slopes of the Eocene hills, where there once may have once been a Roman watchtower.

German nobles, invested with the fief, took the name from the castle of Butrium (1139), and as Lords of Buttrio, they were protagonists of a dispute with the Aquileia Church that culminated in a war in 1220. In 1306, the castle was besieged and destroyed. It was rebuilt, but in 1415 the Lords of Buttrio were definitively ousted.

In the 17th century, it was acquired by the De’ Portis family, who transformed it into a villa. Later, it passed to the Varmo di Sotto family, who eventually sold it to the Morpurgo family. In conclusion, the owners left it as an inheritance to the Civil Hospital of Udine. Put up for auction, it was purchased by the Vidoni company, which modified the morphology of the surrounding area for viticultural purposes. The most devastating change occurred in the 1990s when the upper mound, where the medieval castle presumably stood, was leveled. In 1994, the entire property was sold to the Felluga family, who initiated its restoration.

Very little remains of the old castle: what is seen today is a complex of buildings with romantic and neoclassical elements, the result of almost total reconstruction carried out in successive phases between the 17th and 20th centuries.

The main building has a neoclassical façade with a central pediment. The western wing consists of rustic buildings, while in the eastern wing, a square tower, presumably of medieval origin, and a merloned neo-Romanesque cylindrical turret erected in the last century have been incorporated. The building is surrounded by an Italian-style garden.

In old photos of the Villa, you can still see the clock tower on the oldest tower, which was removed during numerous restorations.

In the years 1997-1999, in the eastern area, archaeological excavations were initiated under the guidance of Geremia Nonini. This brought to light interesting findings dating back to different historical periods.

Due to its historical and environmental value, the villa, along with the surrounding vineyards, is now protected by the Soprintendenza del Friuli Venezia Giulia.

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