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Roccolo Bonato

Roccolo Bonato

Roccolo Bonato

An extraordinary testimony of the ancient art of fowling in the Euganean Hills

The roccolo Bonato stands on a really scenic plateau to the east of Mount Rua, between Galzignano Terme and Torreglia municipalities. It can be reached by walking the trail that climbs from Pianzio, leaving from the old church of Galzignano, or from Torreglia Alta and then entering the small gravel road on the left, going up the road that leads to the hermitage of Monte Rua. 

The term “roccolo” reveals an uncertain origin: perhaps it originated from the Latin rotulus, beause of its round shape or from the diminutive of “rocca” (fortress) due to the local tower. Actually, the roccolo is an artefact for the art of fowling, the ancient practice of capturing migratory birds by nets. This belonged to Dino Bonato and is certainly the best preserved in the Euganean Hills, where in the past there were many others, now widely disappeared. 

Until the early ‘70s, it performed its function as hunting system; later in 1997 the Park Board purchased it along with the adjoining area 5 hectares wide. Thanks to  restoration and maintenance works, it has perfectly preserved the three-storey tower, the arconà (a semicircular set of hornbeams with specimens of chestnut pollarded in the middle), a polyphyte meadow, some cherry trees, terracing and two wetlands of modest size. 

The hunting method was clever and smart since it allowed to catch most of the birds alive, without shooting at them. The birds of passage at the end of the summer, migrated from north to south and crossed the hill where the roccolo was set, in the middle of a clearing, around which some big nets were arranged. Therefore, when they heard the decoy birds (hidden among the trees) singing, they flew down. Otherwise, the rocolaro (sentinel) pulled the zugolo (an upper net) that bore some birds tied which fluttered so that the passing birds (such as warblers, flew down by doing so lower the passing birds (warblers, blackcaps or chickadees, chaf-finches, thrushes, great.tits, long-tailed tits, wrens). At this point, the rocolaro launched a ludro (a braided bramble similar to a hawk) from the tower: this way the frightened birds tried to escape outside the clearing, bumping into the networks arranged in a horseshoe, around the roccolo. They passed through the first loose network and were blocked by the tight mesh, bent by the weight, so to create a lot that imprisoned them. 

The practice of fowling was fundamental to the inhabitants of the hills: it represented a source of food as well as an economic integration. As a matter of fact, some of the animals caught, were sold as decoys or cage birds, others were roasted on a spit. Between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the noble owners of the villas _scattered all over the hills_ used to stay for some days in the “roccoli”, to cultivate the passion of a game requiring a lot of skill as well as for the pleasure of spending some autumn days with their friends in a rustic and secluded, though not fully devoid of comfort, since most “roccoli” were equipped with fireplace and furnishings placed inside the tower. 

Hunting on roccoli has been forbidden for many years by laws protecting many species of migratory birds in danger of extinction.

A remarkable place is, finally, the wetland of Roccolo Bonato since it is home to several species of animals and plants in danger of extinction, representing therefore a significant natural site. 

At present, the roccolo lawn area has been equipped by the Park Board with some tables and benches for resting, while the turret is now used as a shelter; the entrance may be required by hikers who wish to spend a night immersed in the silence of the hills or watch the stars.

Iniziativa finanziata dal Programma di sviluppo rurale per il Veneto 2014-2020
Organismo responsabile dell'informazione: GAL Patavino.
Autorità di gestione: Regione del Veneto
- Direzione AdG FEASR Parchi e Foreste -