The core thread running along the entire route is water, which plays a key role both for nature and for man.
The continuous erosive action of water on the rock is responsible for the morphological birth of this particular place. A typical fluvial valley with the unmistakeable V profile has been formed. It begins life with emerging scaglia rossa rock being easily eroded and ends in a spectacular canyon with narrow passages and vertical faces carved into more resistant dolomia rocks.
The Novella River’s habitat is a haven for different forms of life, thanks to the peculiar orography of the area: hollows left completely wild to develop freely, crevices form impenetrable hiding places, not forgetting the presence of water.
Many species of animals find their ideal habitat in the park: from the big ungulates (deer, roe deer) to foxes, from squirrels to hares and then the variety of birds which includes the buzzard. Although there are so many species of animals living in the Park seeing them must not be taken for granted… Although there are so many species of animals living in the Park seeing them must not be taken for granted…
Along the Parco Fluviale Novella’s trail you can look for the traces of the bond between man and nature. The structures found in the territory witness man’s capacity to find over time a way of living in unison with nature, developing a deep respect for it and following its rhythm.
The mills in Cloz
At the start of the trail located in the village of Cloz you come across two mills. Their presence on the bank of the river was first documented in 1375, but they have been abandoned for some years now. The mills harnessed the water flow from the Novella River in order to grind wheat and produce flour. They are proof of the exploitation of the river’s waters for man’s subsistence without the need to modify its natural course.
Primo esempio di sfruttamento dell’energia idroelettica in Valle di Non, la centrale di Pozzena è operativa già a partire dal 1902 ed è ancora oggi funzionante! Its construction started in 1900 with the creation of a 1km long tunnel inside the rock, dug completely by hand to re-route the waters from the mills in Cloz to the plant. At the end of the tunnels the water is pooled into a small collecting tank from which it is then sent to the turbine through a penstock (sluice) of about 60m.
As you progress along the Novella River, starting at Monte Luco, near Passo Palade, many bridges allow you to cross the very narrow and deep gorge.
It was May 25th 1276 when at Ponte Alto Meinhard, Count of Tirol and Henry, Bishop Prince of Trento met to try and find an agreement that could grant peace between the two bitter enemies. It is now recounted that the bridge in question was the one in Pozzena, one of the three ancient bridges that allowed the crossing of the Noce and Novella rivers.
A couple of hundred metres South-East of the Pozzena bridge there is another bridge, which the locals call “pònt da Marsìli” or *pònt da le lame”, another stone bridge on whose keystone is visible the date 1854 (or 1856 ). The bridge is characterised by the presence of a wide hole at its centre, which has made it impassable.
San Biagio’s hermitage stands on a massive spur of rock that emerges from the ravines of the Novella River. It consists in a number of buildings, the oldest of which dates back to the XIII century. Finally, even further down the valley, river Novella is crossed by “pònt da la poìna”, which stands surrounded by woods between Romallo and Banco crowning the exit from the first of the four canyons that make up Parco Fluviale Novella.
The Calcara is a dry stone built furnace used for the production of lime, once a very common activity in those areas where wood and calcareous rocks were common. The structure was usually located in a wood or adjacent to one, on ground easy to work with, where there was a good presence of stones and rocks containing calcium carbonate, the most important raw material required to obtain the end product. To realise the structure, first a circular hole was dug, which was then lined with heat resistant rocks like granite, porphyry, or erratic, in the shape of a truncated cone with a lateral opening through which to feed the fire and clean out the ashes.
San Biagio’s hermitage
San Biagio’s hermitage stands on a massive spur of rock that emerges from the ravines of the Novella River. It consists in a number of buildings, the oldest of which dates back to the XIII century.
The most antique among them is a Romanic chapel dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary, with vaults supported by six small monolithic pillars. The chapel hides a polychromatic wood statue of the Holy Mother with Child, a late Gothic artifact carved by a German artist.
The main chapel, standing just next to it, is dedicated to San Biagio and is characterised by the typical shape of the XV century: it’s two chapels are perfectly oriented and interconnected. The hermitage is located on the southern side of the hill: the first documented news of its existence is on a parchment dated 1307. In the oldest documents the site is also called “San Lazzaro’s hill”, a fact that seems to support the theory that once you may have found a leper hospital there. Over the course of many centuries, numerous hermits inhabited the area. Under the altar table in the main chapel of San Biagio you can see a funerary memorial stone in red limestone dating back to the Roman Empire.