Torchio a Leva Orizzontale – Cerveno, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Cerveno is a tiny rural village located in Valcamonica that dates back at least to the 14th century. The first mention of Cerveno was in a medieval treaty stating that this village sided with the Ghibellines. Although the fortunes of this village waxed and waned through the centuries, the one thing that remained constant was its vineyards. A network of narrow roads snakes through the estates surrounding Cerveno. Some estates consist of vineyards and other crops, while others are completely covered with vineyard lines. Unsurprisingly, the art of wine-making is an integral part of the village’s identity.

Approaching Cerveno from the north, there is a gigantic horizontal lever press (Torchio a Leva Orizzontale) nestled between the vineyard and some ancient buildings. This is a working press reconstructed using original parts from the year 1638. The reconstruction took approximately one year, and the finished work was unveiled in 2008.

Although some parts of this press are indeed from the 17th century, the original horizontal lever could not be recovered, and a new one had to be procured. This proved to be challenging because it had to be carved out of a wild chestnut tree that is at least ten meters in height. Truly, there is no shortage of wild chestnut trees in the surrounding woods, but it was not an easy feat to find a large, healthy specimen with a straight trunk. Once this was found, the expert hands of a carpenter carved groves in the trunk that perfectly matched those carved into the vertical screw—coming from an also impressive six-meter-high walnut tree. 

The press is now the property of the municipality, but it used to be privately owned by the Bazzoni family. Not many people were able to afford their own press, let alone one of these dimensions. As a result, it was used as a public press, an arrangement quite common in the area. Due to its size, the activation of this press required several people, making this a social event in Cerveno. Horizontal lever presses of this kind were commonly used until the mid-20th century in this area.

Every November, Cerveno holds a local festival in which this horizontal-level press is set in motion. Lavish amounts of local wine and traditional food are available for a nominal fee.

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June 21, 2023

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