I have just finished racing at the 1st World Cup of the 2017 Para Cycling road season in the City of Maniago in Italy and thought I would give you a short history lesson about the area now that I have a day off. 

Maniago is located at the foot of the Friulian Dolomites in north east Italy.  Although we have been staying about 17km from Maniago in the town of Spilimbergo it has been wonderful to experience the scenery and history of the area.  Being originally from Canada and now Australia I have realised that  although we may think we have history in our countries we really don’t know what true history is about.  Walking through our local town and being able to touch the walls of buildings built in the 13th century is history!

The area of Maniago has traces of human presence going back as far as the Neolithic period and these traces have been discovered in a deep cave called “Bus da li Anguani”.  However there are stories that refer to the Lombards, the Celts, and the Romans.  Maniago was an important area that provided roads that led from the plains to the mountain passes.

The first written documentation of Maniago is dated January 12, 981 and the local castle was built around the eleventh century.  There are still a few walls of the ancient castle that can be seen from the centre square.  The castle fell into the hands of the Serenissima Republic of Venice in 1420 and the local church dedicated to St. James was built in 1291.

Dating back to 1453, while in the hands of the Venetians, Maniago became an area known for its blacksmith’s.  Permission had been granted for water to be channelled from the Colvera river into an artificial canal which then provided for the construction of a number of saw mills, flour mills and smithies.  This then enabled them to make tools for farmers, wood-cutters, knives and weapons such as swords and pole-arms which were made for the troops of the Serenissima Republic of Venice.

This skill has continued over the years and grown to the point that today Maniago is the seat of the Knife District which is formed by 9 townships and employs around 1800 people in the production of cutting items.  These encompass not only pocketknives, scissors, sport daggers and kitchen knives but also precision surgical instruments, reproduction of antique weapons, custom parts, corkscrews, turbine palettes, transmission gears and competition skating blades.  Talk about evolving history!

The scenery is spectacular (when the clouds aren’t hiding the peaks), the buildings of past years magnificent to look at, the people are friendly and the coffee is fantastic.  It has been great to immerse myself in the Italian lifestyle and I look forward to coming back here next year for the World Championships in July 2018.