When you think of the Alpine region of Trentino in northern Italy, you probably think of pristine lakes and jagged mountain terrain, but we bet you didn’t know that it also holds one of the most important archeological sites in Europe. The prehistoric pile dwellings (or Palafitte in Italian) give us a glimpse into a typical farming village over 5,000 years ago!
The Pile Dwellings of Fiavé
The town of Fiavé is located just 45 minutes west of the major city of Trento and 30 minutes north of Lake Garda. It was here that in the mid-1800s the ancient stilt houses were discovered on Fiavé’s Lake Carera.
Fiavé was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 along with 110 other sites in the Alpine regions of 5 other countries (Switzerland, Germany, France, Slovenia, and Austria).
The discoveries have been divided into distinct sites with the oldest (Fiavé 1) dating to 3,800-3,600 BC, or Late Neolithic. The Fiavé 3-4-5 settlement was built on stilts over the water of the lake in the Early and Middle Bronze Age (1,800-1,500 B.C.). Finally, Fiavé 6 was built on the shore of the lake in the Middle Bronze Age (1,500-1,300 B.C.).
Fortunately for us, literally thousands of objects from these civilizations fell into the water over time ranging from bronze jewelry to ceramic vases and woodcraft. Food was even recovered giving us a very accurate picture of what daily life must have been like for our ancestors.
Trentino really knows how to create beautiful, engaging museums that are intriguing for all ages. Just take Trento’s MUSE Science Museum and Bolzano’s Otzi Museum as examples. Fiavé’s Palafitte Museum is truly fascinating even if you’re not an archeology buff.
This very interactive, modern museum has something for everyone from its scale models to exhibits. Over 300 wooden objects found in the water are on display along with jewelry, ceramics, clothing, food, weapons, tools, and of course, the stilts.
A protected area, the Fiavé-Carera biotope is a unique peat bog environment rich in plant life and animal species. Part of the museum is dedicated entirely to this.
Just a 30-minute walk from the museum is the actual archeological site where the discoveries were made. Today, there isn’t much to see here but after visiting the museum, it does help to complete the picture and experience.
Check the official website for opening hours and further details.