The golden pumpkin

The ancient chronicles tell that the noble community of Venzone, after fortifying and building wonderful palaces within its walls, decided to build a marvellous cathedral. Unfortunately, once the belfry was under construction, they realized there was not enough money to complete it.

The building works stopped for some time and people started to comment on it, offending the honour of the authorities and the town itself.

The town’s Council was gathered urgently and decided for some special measures to gain extra money: tolls on goods were doubled, foreigners passing by were asked an offering, people were asked to work for free… Therefore, despite bad mood and even some quarrels, the spire of the cathedral was finished and coated with copper.

Yet something was still missing. Therefore a master craftsman from Udine was called to put his mastery at the town’s disposal: the marvellous belfry was crowned with a beautiful golden sphere with a cross on its top. When the artist showed up at the Council expecting to be paid, he was greatly let down: he was told the Council was facing straitened circumstances and therefore he should contribute to increase the splendour of the Community of Venzone by working some days for free. Since the Council was feeling generous, they agreed to pay him just a third of the originally agreed amount.

The honest man did not say a word, pretended to be satisfied and thanked the lords of the Council, but deep inside he was harbouring revenge. He remembered he had seen ropes, iron spears, that stocks so often used by the Lords… he simply could not accept such an injustice.
In the middle of the night, he climbed onto the belfry’s scaffolding, which was still standing there, and replaced the beautiful golden sphere with a freshly harvested pumpkin, so perfectly golden painted that nobody would have noticed the replacement.

The day after, the master craftsman removed the scaffolding, gave his regards to the lords of the Council and went quickly away while the inhabitants of Venzone were already starting to prepare the inauguration ceremony and ringing the bells of the cathedral.

Some time later, the inhabitants noticed something strange on the top of the belfry’s spire: the sphere was changing in shape and colour… the inhabitants were puzzled. One day, to everybody’s surprise, the sphere started falling apart down the belfry, like a strange yellowish shattered cake. When the trick was discovered, the inhabitants’ indignation was impossible to describe. They had been spectacularly outsmarted.

The chamberlains of the cathedral ordered to immediately clean out any evidence in order to avoid the spreading of the scandal but by coincidence, that very same day, some “Carnielli” (inhabitants of Friuli’s northern area called Carnia) were passing by: once they found out the story, they gladly disclosed it to anyone they could.

This is why the inhabitants of Venzone, Venzonesi, still nowadays are called “Cogoçârs” [ “cogoç” means pumpkin in Friulian, the language spoken in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia besides Italian. The meaning of the nickname could roughly be translated as “pumpkinheads”].

La Zucca d'Oro di Venzone
Zucca Venzone anno 1908 (3)