Valstagna is a village with 1,957 inhabitants in the province of Vicenza, situated in the Brenta valley. The village, connected to the hamlet of Carpanè di San Nazario by a robust stone bridge, the Rialto bridge, sits where the Brenta river merges with a torrent which lent its name, Valstagna, to the village in around 1000 AD.
As you can see from the eighteenth century crest, the village was in the past a river and trading port of the Seven Communes of Vicenza and a marketplace and food trading store of the plateau. Once upon a time it was actually part of the territory belonging to the ancient Federation of the Seven Communes as “Contrada Unita”.
Its historic, civil and religious origins are linked to the affairs of the Monastery of Campese (1124-1796) and the politics of the Republic of Venice (1405-1796) in its neighbouring areas. The monks of Campese actually promoted its population and commercial development, equipping it with sawmills and flour mills powered by the waters of the Brenta river.
There is uncertainty over the origins of its name, probably deriving from vallis stagna, stagnant pools and swamps formed by the course of the Brenta river; there were no stagnant pools in Valstagna though, since it has “a torrent river bed that is rocky and steep, always dry, except when the river swells unexpectedly”. In Vicenza dialect however, the adjective stagno also means strong, which describes the place better.
The presence of the Brenta river in the past allowed transport and trade of timber from the Asiago plateau, transported via the famous Calà del Sasso path. Many raftsmen lived in Valstagna itself, which was for centuries an important port hub for collecting the timber transported downstream by the inhabitants of Gallio, Asiago and Foza.
But Valstagna also had a very important role in history in Brenta valley tobacco cultivation. As tobacco use became more widespread, reaching the valley at the end of the sixteenth century thanks to a Benedictine monk who brought several seeds to the Monastery of Campese, the Republic of Venice levied a tax on importation and a 1654 decree banned sowing, planting and private sale of tobacco. Despite the strict controls, cultivation continued to expand until, the few fields available in the local area being used already, our tobacco growers began to groom the mountain slopes, thus creating the famous terraces, or masière. The efforts of entire generations dedicated to trying to wrest pieces of cultivable land from the mountain, to ensure subsistence farming, led to the creation of a truly unique landscape.
On 30th January 2019 the Municipality of Valbrenta was instituted, formed from the merging of the surrounding municipalities of Valstagna, Campolongo sul Brenta, Cismon del Grappa and San Nazario.