PRIMIS - Presentation of minority communities: the Cimbrian



The Cimbro is a Germanic language, origins are still today discussed. The most accreditated theory, supported by historical-linguistic studies, links the Cimbro language to migrations (around 800-1220 AD) of groups from the Bavarian-Tyrolean area, which found free lands and a safe position in isolated territories like the Altopiano dei Sette Comuni. In 1500 Francesco Caldogno, in his report on the Vicenza mountain to the Doge of Venice, wrote that the Cimbrian language was spoken throughout the mountain between the Adige river and the Brenta river.


Cimbrian peoples occupied mountain areas of the Veneto region (Altipiano dei sette comuni e della Lessinia and around the 1800s, also the Cansiglio area) and the Trentino (Luserna). They built three main types of settlements:

  • Rustic Houses, isolated and used for supporting agro-forestry-pastoral activities (production of coal, timber, milk, cheese, cattle breeding);
  • Contrade (small groups of houses);
  • Countries, with squares and streets, also organized according to rural life.

In the early 1300s, all cimbrian municipalities of the Altopiano joined together in a federation, to govern their lives as independently as possible, to maintain their taxes exemptions and to preserve their "privileges" in the economic and administrative field. economic and administrative. Thanks to this particular administrative structure, the "Reggenza of the Sette comuni", was able to enjoy administrative autonomy until 1807.

Of particular relevance on the land management plan is collective ownership, a legal relationship handed down by age-old custom, not elaborated widely in a written way but still in force today in the Altipiano it provides that most of the territory is not private property and not even state property, but collective of the local people, who exercise the right of civic use.



The Cimbrian language has undergone a remarkable change over the centuries, rooting itself deeply in the territory and also adapting to the various socio-linguistic contexts. Given its rural origins, it was and is segmented three different "variants", typical of the various local realities.

In the seventeenth century there were about 20,000 speakers but over time they were drastically reduced. Currently it is estimated that less than a thousand people able to speak or understand Cimbrian are mainly concentrated in the linguistic islands of Luserna / Lusérn (TN), Roana / Robaan (VI) on the Plateau of the Seven Municipalities and Giazza / Ljetzan in Municipality of Selva di Progno (VR).

The cimbri are protected thanks to Italy's adherence to the Council of Europe conventions on the protection of minorities. In 2002 in Luserna the unitary committee of the historical Germanic linguistic islands in Italy was formed, which brings together the representatives of various German-speaking minorities in the Alps.

In the municipalities where the language survives, there are cultural institutions that protect and enhance the Cimbrian language and identity:

  • the Cimbro Institute of Luserna (Kulturinstitut Lusérn;
  • the Cimbra di Roana Cultural Institute (‘z Haus dar Zimbrischen Bizzekhot);
  • the Curatorium Cimbricum Veronense di Giazza (VR


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  • Quaderni di Cultura Cimbra (periodico)
  • Luca Panieri, Dizionario online del Cimbro dei Sette Comuni
  • Umberto Martello Martalar, Dizionario della lingua Cimbra dei Sette Comuni Vicentini – parte prima
  • Umberto Martello Martalar, Dizionario della lingua Cimbra dei Sette Comuni Vicentini – parte seconda
  • Alfonso Bellotto, I racconti di Luserna
  • Costantina Zotti Tanti, Mezzaselva – Kan Toballe
  • Domenico Antonio Sartori, Storia della Federazione dei Sette Comuni
  • AA VV, Canti cimbri dei Sette Comuni
  • Umberto Patuzzi, An mintzig timbris – Un po’ di cimbro
  • Giovanni A. Frigo – Daniele Frigo, Gli ultimi anni della Reggenza dei 7 Comuni
  • S. D. Frigo, Favole cimbre
  • S. Bonato – P. Rigoni, Terra e vita dei Sette Comuni
  • F. Caldogno, Relazione delle Alpi Vicentine e de’ Paesi e Popoli loro
  • A. Dal Pozzo, Memorie Istoriche dei Sette Comuni Vicentini
  • I. Cacciavillani, I Privilegi della Reggenza dei Sette Comuni 1339-1806