The territory of Polcenigo has always been a great favourite with communities looking for food and shelter, thanks to its strategic position and natural resources. Traces of human presence, dating back to prehistoric times, have been found in the area known as Palù di Livenza together with lithic, ceramic and wooden finds that attest the presence of a Neolithic pile dwelling village which could rely on the abundance of water, vegetation and wildlife that the marshy lands of the Palù and the nearby mountains provided in large quantities.
Other finds from an Iron Age necropolis (I-II millennia BC) have been unearthed at the foot of San Floriano hill, in San Giovanni. Roman coins, fibulas and fragments of terracotta have also been found in the territory of Polcenigo as the Romans, who conquered the territories east of the Livenza afterthefoundationofAquileia (181BC),lefttracesoftheirpresenceall over the area.
Between the V and VI century AD, with the spreading of Christianity, Polcenigo became a major religious centre thanks to worship sites such as the one on San Floriano hill (St Florian’s). In the Middle Ages, when castles were a common feature, Polcenigo boasted a cluster of fortified buildings, already known as the castle at the end of the X century AD. Between the XI and XII century the castle and the fiefdom were handed down to the Signori di Polcenigo, later appointed counts.
In 1420 the Serenissima Republic of Venice extended its dominion over the territory, followed by the Turks who wreaked havoc throughout Friuli (1499) reducing Polcenigo to a pile of rubble.
A few years later (1571) Venice won its territories back and in the three following centuries Polcenigo enjoyed a time of peace and prosperity, especially during the XVIII century which was marked by an extraordinary economic, artistic and religious revival.
Following the decline and fall of the Republic of Venice (1797), Polcenigo was first invaded by Napoleon’s troops and then by the Austrians (1815). The expected time of peace and prosperity under the Austrian governance failed to come; the scarce crops and an oppressive tax system brought the inhabitants nearly to starvation. Years of unrest followed and quite a few volunteered to drive the Austrians out. In 1866 the territory was annexed to the Reign of Italy.
At the outbreak of World War I most emigrants were made to return home. In Polcenigo, the number of local residents suddenly raised, as a consequence hardship and poverty scourged the population.
The post war period and the twenty years of Fascist government alternated between times of massive unemployment and others of great occupational opportunities, especially in construction. In Polcenigo, Gorgazzo and Coltura, dairies were built, a new power station was realised and the centre of Polcenigo was provided with street lighting. Public transports and a mail service became a reality, two professional schools were set up and the main roads were improved.
World War II put an end to all that. After 1945 life was still difficult but marked by a slow recovery. Buildings were repaired and renovated. Small factories and industrial estates gradually settled all over the territory creating new jobs, thus changing the social tissue of Polcenigo.