Čepić - Cepich (Felicia)
Cities, Towns and Hamlets


 

The origin of this village, situated on a beautiful, gentle and grassy slope, on a loamy ridge delineated by deep torrential canals, seems to be lost in time. According to some historians an old legend attributed to Čepić, or Ceppici, or Ceplia, or Cepliano to a pre-Roman origin: it was the territory of the Celts Secussi, and at the end of the last century we are able to place here those tales destroyed by the Romans in 177 B.C., but there are no findings which confirm it. The name was probably confused with Felicia which would be the old Roman name of the village that existed until the advent of the Carolingians. During the Italian administration between the two world wars, Cepich regained the official name of Felicia. Findings of coins and roof tiles on the place confirm the presence of a Roman influence. An altar dedicated to Hera is preserved in the museum of Albona and an inscription to Silvano Augusto is found above the parrochial church of the Holy Trinity. 

The facts related to the dark age of the empire and of the Byzanthian period are rare and uncertain with the exception of devastations occurring during the  horrible incursions of the Slavs, Avars, and Longobards in the VII and VIII  centuries. In the meantime, there is evidence of its old and primitive castle,  which was more than a fortification. It was also the residence of the margrave of the patriarchs of Aquileia which at the beginning of the second millennium exercised their ecclesiastical authority on the land. Their location was in the proximity of the Lake of Arsa in a small villa in the wilderness not far from the convent of the Madonna of the Lake, which went into ruins in  1395. The Slavs gave this place the name of Gradaz, which means heap of stones or debris. Felicia or Cepich could have been also the place, now unknown of the old Cortalba or Corte Alba which was documented in the act of donation from Enrico IV to the margrave of Istria Ulrico, in 1064, by the name of Curtane Lahanennit, which enacts as a village "quae dicitur Cortalba  inter latinos", passed to the patriarchs of Aquileia as a gift from Ulrico II and his wife Adelaide. Cepich remained under the authority of the patriarchs of Aquileia, however under the Bishop of Pedena. It was then given in trust to the Counts of Gorizia in 1270, the domain was then incorporated in 1367 by the Count Alberto IV of Pisino, to the lords of Cosliacco, under the Guteneckers, until such time Duke Federico of Austria forced the village from the Guteneckers placing it a feudal state under the lords of Cosliacco. 

In 1436, when the Moyses brothers were invested in the domain of Cosliacco, received back the village of Cepich paying 250 Aquileian marks to the Duke Federico: in the relative document the village is known with the German name of Pitsch.

Nonetheless the Nicolichs and the Barbos, the Moyses' heirs divided between each other the domain of Cosliacco, Cepich became the possession of Giorgio Nicolich and successively of his son Giuseppe. who was killed in the peasant revolt of 1574 in which also the farmers of Cepich participated, a fact which is still today remembered with pride. The village then passed at the end of the XVI century to a noble family from Rimini of the Marquis Diotalevi. Diotalevo Diotalevi had married Giuliana Nicolich some years after the death of her father, his wife had brought him as a dowry the domain of  Cepich. At that time the new small domain of Cepich was formed on the East with Malacrasca and Su Codru or Jessenoviza, on the North with Berdo, and on the West with Tupliacco and on the South with Chersano. The Diotalevis settled in Cepich with the family and built a new three story building, rectangular plan, with  a tower and with an internal courtyard; the construction was like a castle. 

During the Uskok war in 1612, Venetian troops under general Barbaro attacked and burned the village of Cepich. The presidium of Gallignana under Giorgio Vivo ran to help the village, succeeded in a desperate fight to push back the invaders. It seems that the castle even if damaged as a fact of war, was repaired, in fact, in the paper of Valvasor, which goes back to the sixteen century, it seems to be in good conditions and preserved. Still in 1616, the Albonese peasants, with a body of 70 mercenaries, engaged by the Venetian, broke into the valley and burned Cepich and stole the cattle as they were retiring. The Corsicans, in order to protect the Albonese retreat, maded a bridge-head on the hills of Cepich and there was a long and obstinate fight with the Austrian troops, under captain Seminich, who rushed from Pedena. The Corsicans at the conclusion of their assignment were able to get out and retreat in the venetian territory of Albona. The ruins of the castle were visible until 1830, then the material was used to build a section of the road and the bridge over the Arsa.

In 1670, the barony of Cepich was acquired by Prince of Auersberg and was united to the lords of Cosliacco and Bellai. After the Austrian restoration of 1814, Cepich became part of the commune of Chersano. The village had its best period in the XV and XVI centuries, when the Val d'Arsa was the garden of Austrian possessions in Istria. 

At that time several middle class families as the Durs, settled on those gentle slopes of the hill next to the shore of the lake, which at that time was not a marsh and source of malaria. Cepich was even called Purgaria, from the German Burger, which reminded the nobility and the middle class which had resided, while the Austrians called Pitsch or Zepitsch. Still today on German maps, Purgaria is linked to Cepich.

The village is on the western side of the plain of Arsa, on the crossways to Valdarsa and the ex-church of the Madonna of the Lake, just before Chersano, stretching on a fertile and gentle grassy slope, bordered by torrential canals which descend the plain of Arsa. The village farmers' houses and the new villas are situated at a distance from each other with orchards surrounded by aromatic plants and gardens with small palm trees, through which large horse chestnut and hackberry [lodogno] trees are visible. 

The church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, of medium size is found in the square of the village, facing East and the plain, with a stairway in front of a lilac facade, on which emerges a belltower in the shape of a sail. It is a construction that underwent changes and expansion on behalf of the old  parochial church. The inscription dedicated to the god-like Silvano is no longer on the main wall, but it was moved elsewhere after the last restorations in 1873. It is as well kept on the outside as it is on the inside. In the church there are some votive tables and dedications. The parish of Cepich was always under the diocese of Pićan [Pedena]. The small cemetery with the chapel of St. Justin is found above the village.

Translated by John Babich

Sources:

  • English translation - © John Babich, based on a section in Dario Alberi's book. (This translation was done during the period of time when the publisher had granted permission to post excerpts from the book; that authorization was rescinded in January 2010). Edited by Marisa Ciceran and Guido Villa.
  • Photographs (color) - Eduard Strenja, Kršan, Istra - Hrvastska, Opcina Kršan (Padova, 199?)

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This page compliments of John Babich, Marisa Ciceran, Doro Honovich and Guido Villa

Created: Monday, March 05, 2001; Last updated:Friday July 23, 2010
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