A population of Cimbrian descent, originally from the Asiago plateau, has been living in the Cansiglio area from the second half of the 18th century. Four different family groups (Azzalini, Bonato, Gandin, Slaviero), called by the Republic of Venice to "cut beech staves" ("a tagliar doghe di faggio"), left the village of Roana and moved to Cansiglio.
The origin of the Cimbri population is still uncertain. Some say they were a legendary warrior tribe coming from the shores of the Black Sea. They apparently followed the course of the Danube River, moving at first to the North of Europe and later, around the 7th century B.C., to the South. In 101 B.C. they were defeated by the Roman Consul Gaio Mario at the Campi Raudii (near Vercelli), so they fled to Bavaria. Under the Holy Roman Empire, taking advantage of concessions given by the Bishop-Counts, the Cimbri moved to Alto-Adige and from there to the Asiago Plateau and the Verona highlands of the Illasi Valley. They founded "the seven Comuni" in the province of Vicenza and the thirteen Cimbrian boroughs in the Lessinia region. The old traditional language of the Cimbri Fathers - a High-Medieval idiom with Germanic roots - is still spoken in some of those villages (Mezzaselva, Roana, Giazza).
The Cimbri of Cansiglio lived as woodcutters and "scatoleri" (they built cylindrical containers made of beech-wood called "scatoi"). In order to barter their hand-crafted products they had to walk the old route through Cadolten down to Fregona and the nearby villages.
Antonio Caccianiga, Podestà of Treviso, related what he could see as he was reaching Cansiglio in 1867:
"The road was busy with women walking down the mountain, their backs bent under the weight of their baskets full of coal. Others were coming up ready to pick strawberries and raspberries ... We crossed the green pastures along the old road ... through the wood we reached the Fontanaboi Valley. There we noticed a spring, plus a hut hosting a family of "scattolai". The dwelling was made of a kitchen, where the family also worked, and a bedroom. ... The fireplace had no chimney, the smoke went out through the door, the windows, the cracks of the walls, the roof. ... The charcoal-burners, who worked in various spots of the forest, built peculiar shacks. ... The proceeds of the Cansiglio area are derived from the sale of timber, coal, sleepers for the railways, wood containers ("scatoi"). They are sold to the nearby provinces or sent from Venice to Algeria, the Ionian Islands or Alexandria in Egypt".
The Cimbri dwellings were small in size and with few comforts. The wooden walls rested on a small dry-stone wall and were made with trunks overlapped at the corners using an ancient German method, still in use in Alpine areas, called "blockbau".
The peculiar gabled sloping roofs were made both of small pine slates called "scandole" and wood chips from the crafting of the typical local containers called "scatoi". The top of the roof slope on the houses that were rebuilt in bricks show a bevel typical of German buildings. The roof, from a short distance, seems a protective mantle enveloping the home in a warm embrace. From a distance, the pointed roofs resemble the shape of the conifer trees visible in the background.
Professor Gianni Marinelli gives us a testimony of those spartan and small abodes as guest in the Timoteo Slaviero Inn in the Cimbric village "Canaie vecio" in 1876.
"Briefly said, among the trees a pointed chimney appears, and then another and others still. - Canaje - the guide announces and we set foot in the first home ... I said we set foot and that's fine, but it wasn't easy to introduce our entire body in that tiny home ... the façade of the little cottage measured less than three metres and yet it had one door and one window. The inside space was filled by a fireplace, a wooden, white and perfectly clean table, a screen, a sink, several beechwood chairs and stools. So the kitchen, the dining room, the sitting room and almost the bedroom were all in one place."
The Cimbri villages are the following:
Vallorch, Le Rotte, in the municipality of Fregona; Pian dei Lovi, Canaie Vecio, Pian Canaie, Valbona, in the municipality of Tambre; Campon, Pian Osteria, Pich in the municipality of Farra d'Alpago.
Presently, only two of the villages are permanently inhabited (Campon and Pian Osteria), while the others are mainly populated during summer. There are various restaurants with their typical Cimbrian cuisine.