Borgo Velino sits along the Via Salaria [Salt Road] to the left of the River Velino at the foot of Mount Nuria, which is covered with woods and chestnut groves where the famous delicacy is picked; it was the haunt of the notorious brigand Pezzola, who bequeathed various legends and an air of mystery to the village.
In the 14th century, after work was done to check the flow of the river, the village was shifted downstream and Borghetto, the name of Borgo Velino up to the 19th century, was founded. Situated on the border between the Kingdom of Naples and the Papal State, it was a fiefdom of Margaret of Austria, then of the Farnese family. It was only in the seventeenth century that the figure of the brigand Giulio Pezzola of Borghetto began to wrap the village in an aura of mystery and popular legend that still lingers today.
In 1642, the brigand Giulio Pezzola of Borghetto made his first appearance. Details of his life are uncertain and have been much embroidered by popular fancy, but his story has nevertheless played a major part in the history of the village. Among the curious facts associated with this controversial figure is the story that it was he allegedly who imported from Naples the card game “Tres Sitis” (today called Tressette).
The villagers of today commemorate his legend today. A group of boys and girls re-enact the life of Pezzola, creating a unique, fascinating spectacle, but undoubtedly the highlight of this historical pageant is the famous “Tressette Animato”, whose fame has spread beyond the local area and now attracts participants from all over Italy. It started many years ago but is still a highly original spectacle. 32 girls and 8 boys represent the 40 playing cards and a “living” game is played in the main square. The scene is also enlivened by street performers, flag-wavers and historical personages in period costume, which may include Margaret of Austria or Giulio Pezzola, depending on their commitments, of course.