An area for cultural and recreational aggregation, created on the model of the ancient greek-Roman amphitheatres
The Arena of Montemerlo was built in the ‘50s. The postwar period represented a particularly hard phase due to the lack of work involving Italy. Even in Veneto unemployment was very high; fortunately the trachyte quarry of Montemerlo ensured support to the majority of residents, mostly farmers who could no longer feed their families being agricultural crops not enough.
Gradually processing stone became a common activity spread to all the inhabitants of the area. Later, the town council of Cervarese Santa Croce and the Mayor, Giulio Purgato promoted a valuable initiative by starting a "Professional Course for masons specialized in trachyte stone", authorized and recognized by the Ministry of Labour. The course was structured in practical exercises where they worked, lay, demolished and then re-used the so-called "masegne", paving blocks. The training of these professionals urged the Committee "Pro Montemerlo" to propose a project for the creation of an edifice intended for the community; namely an arena following the model of the most famous Greek-Roman amphitheater, entirely in trachyte stone coming from the area. The elliptical structure has a maximum diameter of 32 meters and consists of a stage, stalls or orchestra and semicircle stands. The arena offers excellent acoustics and can accommodate an audience of about 600 people. For the citizens, it still represents an important gathering place which hosts theatrical performances and musical concerts.
The Arena of Montemerlo was officially inaugurated in 1952, on August 2nd when an extraordinary concert took place; furthermore the shows and events staged in the following years were a great success. However, owing to the advent of television as well as to the growing presence of cinemas in the area from the ‘60s the interest in the Arena performances quickly waned and soon the program was completely suspended. At first even the proposal of its demolition was taken into account; anyway its architectural features as well as the peculiar history that distinguish the monument fostered the recovery option. Therefore, in 1976 the ProLoco of Montemerlo (association for promotion of the place) was established with the purpose of redeveloping this site and restore its role as a community center for the residents of Montemerlo and beyond. A contract was signed between the Parish of Montemerlo (owner of the arena) and the Pro Loco, specifying that the latter was committed to deal with the restoration of the theater without burdening the parish budget. The deep awareness of the complexity of the work to be performed led the volunteers to meet weekly in their homes (as at the beginning they had no fixed location) to organize events that raise funds. Really many volunteers sacrificed their free time to save the Arena of Montemerlo. On weekends or in the evening after work, several residents also helped by some people from the neighboring towns, began to deal with the planning and material execution of the work. Those who could not process the stone contributed by carrying out the paperwork with offices and authorities; others showed their support by paying small annual amounts to support the project. When the charges became too onerous, the providential participation of private sponsorship and public funding allowed the completion of the last work, so to achieve regularization and opening of this important amphitheater.
Today, the Arena di Montemerlo represents the main focus of the activities of the territory: from May to September it hosts theatrical events, concerts and other cultural happenings that annually attract an increasing number of people.
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 -