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Tenuta San Leonardo, Trentino

The Tenuta San Leonardo has been described as a magical spot, and that aura is the fruit of a long progression of important events that have taken place within its walls, with the first being the wedding between the beautiful Principessa Teodolinda, daughter of the King of Bavaria, and Autari, King of the Lombards. That happened in 588 AD.

But to stay within the ambit of fully-documented events, the first testimony of the existence of this spot dates to 900 AD, when the Bishop of Verona granted to his colleague in Trento woods, vineyards, and meadowlands located in Campi Sarni. This modest fief then passed to the Frati Crociferi in 1215, a religious order quite widespread in Europe in the Late Middle Ages; the monks built their monastery here and launched agricultural operations that were quite successful for that time.

Remains of the monastery can still be seen: the Romanesque apse, with its exterior hanging arches and traces of a 13th-century fresco inside, and the refectory for the poor, which is a refuge today for barrels of wine. Various documents cast light on the agricultural activities and on the very diverse crops that were part of the daily existence of the borgo, above all viticulture.

In 1656, the de Gresti, a noble Trento family, took over the property, and became its owners in 1724. The monastery then became a borgo, a small hamlet, whose goal was to achieve the self-sufficiency in food products that those times required. This meant not only the basic foodstuffs and animal husbandry but also the more remunerative raising of silkworms. That world remained in force actually up to 1900 and beyond

During World War I, the villa at San Leonardo served as the headquarters of the 29th Corps of the Italian army. On 20 October 1918, Austrian Captain Kamillo Ruggera, accompanied by a trumpeter and a sergeant carrying a white flag, presented themselves at the front line; they were blindfolded and ushered into the headquarters. They carried a request for an armistice. Over the next few days, terms for the armistice were negotiated by Colonel Schneller, Frigate Captain Principe Von Liecthtenstein, and Captain Ruggera, who accepted the armistice terms, confirmed by the supreme command of the Austro-Hungarian army.

On 3 November, the signatories left San Leonardo and went to the Villa Giusti in Abano, where, the next day, they signed the armistice that for Italy meant the end of the First World War.

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