The History of the River Piave

From the hills of Conegliano and reaching almost to the sea, winding through the plain between Treviso and Venice: this is the Piave DOC zone.

The original course of the River Piave

The Piave was created between 300000 and 20000 BC by glaciation. The bed of the Piave changed dramatically after the glacier retreated, producing morphological changes due to water corrosion. Carbonate, flint, sand and quartz basins formed, brought downstream by the Piave. The abundant floods of the Biadene-Caerano passage, combined with a positive mantel movement, directed the Piave along its present course. The most significant traces of Man's presence date from this period. The alterations made to avoid the lagoon silting up are very obvious around Venice.

During the period of the "paleoveneta" culture (8th-1st c. BC) the Piave was pivotal to human life. It provided food, water, minerals, metals and fertile land. In 148 BC the consul Spurius Postumius Albinus built a consular road to link Genoa and Aquileia, the "Postumia".

This road contributed to the expansion of Rome. By 49 BC, under Augustus, Veneto was completely dominated by Rome and had become the tenth Italian region. The Piave basin was divided into various municipalities - Treviso flourished on the right bank.
In 1534 it was decided to build the great embankment of S. Marco, which moved the lower distributary towards Jesolo. In 1683 an exceptional flood (called the Landrona flood) broke through the sandbank and caused the river to shift towards Cortellazzo, where it still has its mouth. The river played a crucial role during the First World War; Italy's destiny was decided on its banks. Up to the time of the Austrian offensive in the Trentino (Spring 1916), the Piave was considered the point where the Italian army would stand and turn should it be forced to retreat from the Isonzo River. Italy's victory was only assured by the simultaneous action of two divisions of the XXIII army corps carried out between 15 and 23 June. The new Piave Line was moved by eight kilometres so Venice was placed even further out of reach of an enemy attack. And so the Piave was won for Italy.