Bezzecca is located on the banks of the Assat stream, which cuts the village into the two contrade of Villa and Lutta. Bezzecca is known for the Battle of Bezzecca, which saw the Austrians against the Italians under the command of Garibaldi, and for the words pronounced by Garibaldi, Obbedisco!, I obey.
Etymology: From the Latin bis secta, divided in two, "Villa" on the right side and "Lutta" on the left side
Nickname: The inhabitants of Bezzecca are called scorleti, the loonies.
What to see: Church of St Stephen in Bezzecca. Colle di Santo Stefano with military memorial and trenches from the Great War. Museum of Garibaldi and the First World War on the Lungassat. Little church of Santa Lucia in pratis, outside the village, with frescoes dating back to the 14th century.
Village festivals and traditions: Sagra di Bezzecca, in July. Garibaldi celebrations, in memory of the battle on 21 July 1866. Scontrada, a competition between the contrade, in September. Villaggio del gigante, village of the giant, Christmas Market in the alleys of the village.
Some history: Bezzecca is famous for being the scene of the battle between the Italian army under Garibaldi and the Austrian army in 1866 during the Third Indipendence War. There is an interesting park on the S. Stefano hill where the Path of Peace winds through the trenches.
During WWI, Bezzecca became again an important strategic point and in that period soldiers bored tunnels and built many trenches on the hill. Today they are evidences of the two wars that make St. Stefano hill a place of memory.
Until 1860 the church of the village was on St. Stefano Hill but today the main church is in Garibaldi Square. It was built in the nineteenth century to replace the other one, which was to small for the population.
V.I.P.: Bezzecca was also birth place of the giant Bernardo Gigli, also called “popo da bezeca”, who became famous all over Europe at the end of 18th century. He was a very nice and intelligent man and he also traveled a lot in Europe with the well known globe-trotter Giambattista Perghem da Nomi.
Bernardo Gilli was born in 1726 in Bezzecca. He was the youngest of the four children of Bernardo Gilli and Maria Oradini. At twenty, he was 260 cm tall and his fellow villagers were already stunned by his superhuman strength. Even though at the time he was probably, the tallest man in the world he was not the first in his family to reach such a height.
It was not long before he caught the eye of Giambattista Perghem (Carattà), a travelling tightrope walker who was originally from Nomi (a village not far from Trento). In 1745, Bernardo left Bezzecca and started performing dressed as a Turk. The giant of Bezzecca travelled all over Europe and managed to be received by monarchs and popes. Amongst them were King Louis XV of France and Empress Catherine the Great of Russia. Bernardo was a gentle giant who did not strike terror.
After he returned to Ledro he had a house built in Bezzecca in the same spot which is now occupied by the town hall. He died in 1791, having previously lost the use of his legs. As stated in his will his skeleton was donated to Dr Canella for medical purposes.
Part of the skeleton was then moved to the Museo Civico in Rovereto. A life-size painting and a huge silk stocking shared the same fate. In 1872 Bernardo’s documents and passport were put into a showcase in the same museum. Rovereto was bombed during the First World War and most of what was kept in the museum was destroyed, including Bernardo’s skeleton and belongings.