Casa Alpina San Marco
A 24-hour holiday, suitable for any of your ideas and stay proposals: relax, sport and entertainment!
Casa Alpina San Marco is located in a breathtaking natural scenery, where it is possible to admire a lovely panoramic view on the National Park of the Dolomites of Belluno, on the medieval town of Feltre, as well as on the San Vittore Basilica.
Chronicle of the Casa Alpina San Marco
Excerpt from the “Raccolta Colonia alpina San Marco in Norcen“
The Casa Alpina San Marco was established in 1898 – as the second residence in the Veneto region – on the initiative of the “Lega insegnanti veneziani” and on the wake of the several institutions that were spreading around Italy to support destitute infancy. The aim of this facility was “to send to alpine places, during the summer and autumn holidays, a certain number of children from Venice, were they poor, in good health, but of a sickly constitution, preferring those who came from families who had been suffering from tubercular illnesses, thus aiming at strengthening their bodies, and contributing to their normal physical development, as well as to their moral education”.
The transitional site was the town of Feltre, located in the premises of the council middle school (called Ginnasio). Already in 1898, about 40 teenagers could stay there for 33 days in the summer. The procedure employed did not change very much in the following decades: children were singled out by their teachers, then examined by the Official in charge of hygiene, weighed and washed before their departure and, finally, sent to Feltre by train. The young colonists were entitled to wear a uniform and assisted by some teachers and a local doctor.
During the first decade, in addition to the middle school in Feltre, other locations were chosen in S. Gregorio nelle Alpi, Vellai, Asolo, Possagno and Crespano, using private villas, religious institutes and a nursery. As the number of locations increased, so did the number of children assisted, but never more than 200, at least until the first two decades of the 20th century, since the recruitment policy selected only the poorest children, and acted, instead, on the effectiveness and the intensity of the climatic care. This care was based on the benefits offered by oxygenated air, the sun and a healthy diet. Considerable attention was paid to hygiene care and to respecting the discipline, according to the ethical codes at that time.
The permanent seat of the Colony was completed only in 1907, in Norcen (near Pedavena) by the Engineer Piero Bonsembiante, from Feltre, on a project by the Venetian Engineer Cesare Bianchini, which included a two-floor building for 90 students, the managerial and service staff, a kitchen and a sick bay. The sculptor Annibale De Lotto realized the lion “in moleca”, reproducing that of the Rialto factories, placed on the building’s façade. In addition to the contribution given by Venice City Council, the construction was made possible by the philanthropic donations given by wealthy families from Venice and, partly, from Feltre too. The opening ceremony took place on the July 23, with a welcome party which involved the whole town.
Since its origins, the San Marco Colony has benefited from the high patronage of S.M. the Queen Mother Margherita di Savoia. In 1910, it won the silver medal at the Universal and International Exhibition in Brussels. In 1912, it obtained a Diploma of Honour at the International Exhibition of social hygiene in Rome. In 1914, the Colony constituted itself as a moral entity, with its own independent administration committee, partly elected by Venice City Council, together with local business and notable representatives from Feltre, as well as doctors, such as Mario Bonsembiante and Luigi Alpago Novello. Already in 1913, another building was added in Feltre, in the San Paolo district, to the one already built in Norcen. During the Great War, both these headquarters were destined to the army and plundered by the soldiers during the Austrian occupation. Anyway, young Venetian pupils found hospitality in some climatic resorts in Florence and Modena.
In the summer 1919, the gates of the Colony were opened again and could welcome 50 children. In a few years, this number increased to 270 children, with 62-day-long holidays and double shifts for boys and girls. The following step led to the institution of a permanent colony: in 1927, thanks to large grant offered by Venice City Council, it was possible to guarantee the functioning of the organization throughout the year, providing also elementary education. The number of children assisted, spread between Norcen and Feltre, increased dramatically, reaching 791 nursing services in 1930.
The activity of the Colony continued even after the Second World War, until the mid ’70s. Later, this institution guaranteed only summer holidays. Since 1985, attention was paid to the elderly from the lagoon city and summer holidays were organized for them until 2007. Nowadays, our facility is ready to face new challenges on the social front, aimed at involving also the area around Feltre.