ita // eng

The location of The Writings

Clicking on the picture you can see in detail the area in which there were found the writings of the shepherds.

The Writings


The writings consist of initials, very often the initials of a first name and second name followed by the letters FL (an abbreviation for: fece l'anno or 'written in the year') and the year itself, below or next to this the day and the month and the tally of animals brought to pasture.

The writings themselves may also be enclosed by borders of different shapes, sometimes accompanied by drawings and symbols, such as religious symbols: christograms and crosses or floral motifs. Here and there occur too figures of animals, both domestic and wild kinds, hunting scenes, portraits, self-portraits, greetings and diaristic notes.

Almost always the shepherd added the symbol or sign of his 'house' (locally called the noda), these family signs were very important in the past because they distinguished and demonstrated to whom the individual sheep in the large flock belonged, as well as marking out ownership of tools and equipment and so on.


From the chronological point of view the inscriptional activity of the Fiemme shepherds is documented from the second half of the Seventeenth Century to past the mid-Twentieth Century, or roughly up until the decline of traditional society.

THE WRITINGS: change over time

The writings differ in their form, even on a first look, and fall into two groups:

  1. those written before the second half of the Nineteenth Century
  2. those written after the second half of the Nineteenth Century

In the oldest writings one overwhelmingly finds full initials, the 'house' or family symbols, pictograms, sacred symbols and livestock tallies. The author of the inscription is only recognizable from the family and the writing area is carefully framed, often creating a sort of small shrine surmounted by a cross; the area is also often surrounded by dots or highlighted to give a reversed 'negative' form of the inscription. These are stereotypical designs that seem to have been made expressing a desire to mark out territory and leave some trace of one's passage.

In the second group of writings, those of the late Nineteenth and of the Twentieth Century, the signs, abbreviations and family symbols gradually relinquish their place to the name and surname of the author written out in full, often accompanied by his hometown, evidencing an ever more widespread literacy. It also appears that with the messages they want to record an event, the cold, their hunger, an escape from danger, sometimes made together with a brief diary entry and basic chronological data: when and for how long, good and bad work experience, the desire to party and have fun, the state of the weather, the search for some lost sheep, the great difficulty, exhaustion, or feeling low. Especially in the Twentieth Century, sparse messages appear that are more purely public in nature, reflecting the great political events of the time.