A small, mainly agricultural hamlet, Aurava appears for the first time in a document of 1204 with the name “in ville Aurave”. In the course of the years the place name varied: for example “in villa Daurage”, “Davrane”, “Dograva”, “in villa Dourave”.
Another document of 1584 testifies the existence of a small ancient church, dedicated to St. Lawrence the Martyr, erected where now is the cemetery.
Aurava is also known because it was the birthplace of Alessandro Orologio (1551 ca. – 1633), Friulian musician who operated at the court of Prague and died in Vienna.
The Parish Church
It is dedicated to St. Lawrence (fig. 36) and dates back to the first half of 1800 when the ancient church became too narrow for the community, and the construction of a larger one in the centre of the village was required.
Works for the new building started in 1855 and finished in 1868. The church was built by master mason Giacomo Basso from Provesano and was designed by Girolamo D’Aronco.
The facade shows a style with clear references to the Palladian Neo-classicism introduced in Friuli by Francesco Lazzari. Greatly influenced by this style, Basso introduced a complex and structured planning of the facade: two large pilasters at the sides, containing two square niches in the upper part and two arched niches in the lower part, the central door and a tympanum above. The classical pediment with an eye in the centre completes the facade.
It is the only church in the town with frescos on the facade, probably made soon after the conclusion of the construction works. The two pilasters and the pediment were painted in imitation of rose-coloured stone slabs which have now disappeared after repainting. The frescos were restored in 1990s, but the pictures were not brought back to the original, making the stylistic interpretation difficult. In the central tympanum a Holy Family is represented, with the Virgin Mary clad in an azure mantle dominating the scene. On the two side niches the half-length portraits of the Apostles Peter on the right, holding the keys, and Paul on the left with the book and the sword are portrayed. On the lower niches next to the portal, two figures show St. Rocco on the right and St. Florien on the left. The first, with the dog which helped him, shows the sores of the plague and holds the stick and the shell of the pilgrim; the second, dressed up as a Roman soldier, holds a bucket, partly faded on his right hand; on the background the flames of a fire can be seen.
The interior of the church, a rectangular nave with apse and presbytery, has the high altar made of white marbles from Carrara and two altars on the sides: one dedicated to the patron saint with the altar-piece representing the Charity of St. Lawrence by the renowned painter Umberto Martina; the other one dedicated to the Our Lady of Health, a sculptural processional group of the first years of 1900 placed in a large niche.
In the course of the years the church has not been structurally modified; the interior and the exterior have been painted several times.
The Altar-piece of St. Lawrence
The altar on the left is dedicated to the patron saint of the village and frames a valuable altar-piece (oil on canvas) portraying the Charity of St. Lawrence by Umberto Martina (Dardago 1860 – Tauriano 1945) painted between 1909 and 1924 (fig. 37).
The altar-piece of St. Lawrence shows the very good painting skills of the author, enhancing the sense of colour with dense and rich strokes, which are a feature of his art and reveal his psychological introspective ability.
The composition presents the traditional scheme of Venetian sacred painting, with the saint in full-length portrait who emerges from a dark background, with a hardly recognizable building and a thick cloud of reddish smoke which forebodes his martyrdom. He is wearing a simple red dalmatic and is portrayed while donating the possessions of the Church to the poor. A beggar at his feet stands out for the paleness of his complexion and emaciated body but with a serene look. The glance is extremely eloquent and the gesture of the hands joining together is central to the scene and almost underlines the goodness of heart of the Saint, cause of his martyrdom. In the foreground on the left the figure of a pious person seen from behind, introduces the spectator in the scene. The faces, real portraits, are successfully rendered and show once again the artistic ability of Martina.
During World War II this altar-piece was damaged by a cut which spoiled the face of the saint. It was restored in the following years by the painter and engraver Virgilio Tramontin from San Vito.
In the apse of the church, behind the high altar, we find another painting (oil on canvas) portraying
and his Martyrdom. Very little is known about this painting, except for the name of the painter who signs as Aloisius Krisan Crociato, and the date, July 19, 1890 (XIX JULII 1890). The work does not have particular artistic qualities and the pictorial choices are not always successful. For a long time it was kept in the vestry and then placed in the present position.
Piazza Alessandro Orologio
On April 25, 2004 the churchyard was dedicated to Alessandro Orologio.
Alessandro Orologio, musician and composer, was born in Aurava around 1551. His father Pellegrino from Aurava, blacksmith and clock master operated in Udine since 1550, being entrusted with the maintenance of the clocks of the town and as an armourer.
Alessandro Orologio might have received a musical education in Udine, joining the company of musicians of the city of and the Choir of the Cathedral. The education he received in Udine under the guidance of excellent musicians might have allowed him to be employed at the Court of Rudolph of Habsburg in Prague around 1580. In the following years he wandered in Europe from court to court for more than fifty years.
He probably died in Vienna in 1633.
He was a valued player of wind instruments and composer of vocal and instrumental music which, unfortunately, was partly lost or has been handed on incomplete
In Via XX Settembre, (street numbers 18-20-22), an elegant house of the first half of 1600 (fig. 38) can still be admired. It was built by Francesco Adelardis (or Alardis), an aristocrat from Spilimbergo who took up residence in Aurava in 1635. From the Napoleonic maps of 1806 the building consisted of a main U-shaped complex, with a large yard, and other adjoining buildings along the road. The two-storey construction still presents the original oval windows in the attic.
The main door opens into a long five-arched portico delimiting the southern facade. At the end of the portico there is a fresco dated 1691 representing the Virgin with Child and the Saints Antony, Peter and Frances. It differs in the style from traditional devotional frescos and appears as the work of a painter of a certain prominence, whose skill in portraying the faces and the bodies under the drapery can still be appreciated in spite of the wear and tear of time.
The house had a small private church dedicated to St. Mark. Around 1850 the Adelardis family moved to Udine and a few years later the property was split. A part, including the chapel, was acquired by the community of Aurava in the 1920s, and used part as a classroom until 1958 and part as a dairy until 1994 when it was closed. The rest of the complex was restructured as a private house. The church was greatly restructured in 1973 and transformed into a chapel dedicated to the Unknown Soldier; the war memorial with the names of the dead soldiers, which originally was outside the church, was placed here.
The house is private property and is not open to the public.
The Mill of Aurava
The Mill of Aurava (fig. 39), situated on the Roggia di Lestans (stream of Lestans), also called Roggia dei Mulini (stream of the Mills), a branch of the Cosa stream on the right bank, appears in a document of 1615 where it comes out that the owner was the earl Pompeo (Prospero) Ricchieri, who had let it to Giacomo and brothers Filippato (the Filipuzzi from Cosa). Moreover the mill was burdened with a duty in favour of the Pio Istituto Elemonisiero di S. Nicolò della Richinvelda. In 1635 the mill was let to Francesco Adelardis.
In the last decade of 1700 the owner was the Volpatti family. In 1875 the property passed from the Volpatti brothers to the Senator Gabriele Luigi Pecile.
The mill had three millstones and in about 1890 Pecile installed a wheat threshing machine. A turbine was set in 1909, and an electrical generator was installed in 1920. The mill closed down in 1950.The building is now unfit for use.
Several “devotional frescos” which decorate the front wall of the houses are still visible also in Aurava; they are precious evidence of the popular piety and of the way to show it. Among them noteworthy in Via XX Settembre is the Crucifixion of Christ of the 18th century (fig. 40). Of unknown author, as most of these works, it reveals a hand educated to drawing.