The Roman era and the Via Claudia Augusta

In the Roman era, the most important road communicating with the northern regions of the Roman Empire passed through the Piana Rotaliana -  the Via Claudia Augusta. It was constructed to facilitate the military campaigns in the Alps in 15 BC under the Emperor Augustus and was later extended by the Emperor Claudius, who gave the road its name.  It ran from Altinum, an important commercial hub on the Adriatic (close to Venice), to Augusta (Augsburg) in Germany, following for a while the river Piave before passing through the Valsugana and the Valle dell’Adige and over the Reschen Pass.  Where it passes through the Piana Rotaliana the Via Claudia follows the left bank of the river Adige, a little way up the side of the valley - a few traces have, in fact, been found near Pressano. At Nave San Felice it was possible to cross to the other side of the river Adige by ferry: there was a look-out post in the settlement and what remains of it is a stone tower, presumably from the Imperial Roman period.  It is not so easy to reconstruct the route the road took between Nave San Felice and Mezzocorona.  Near the Giontech site (see below) vestiges of a major paved roadway have been found. The Via Claudia was extremely important for the Empire as it became increasingly used as a means not only of moving  legionaries, but also goods and people and of exchanging ideas.

The Giontech settlement in Mezzocorona, which can be dated to between the 1st and 6th centuries AD, covered an area of over four thousand square metres and consisted of a series of buildings standing along a paved roadway.
In one of the buildings, in the only room that can be seen today, a hot-air heating system (hypocaustrum) was brought to light .  Although the road that ran through the village is still the main thoroughfare today, in the 4th century the settlement of Giontech began a slow decline: in the 6th century the population began to move away, and when, at the end of that century, the river Noce burst its banks, the settlement, having  been devastated, was completely abandoned.  The Domus Romana, a building that served various purposes, is located where the archaeological site stands today. Part of the under-floor heating system can be seen here with illustrative panels explaining how it worked.

The Drei Canè site, on the other hand, consists of a series of buildings attributable to a vast agricultural estate of the type the Romans referred to as a “villa rustica” . The remains of a kitchen with a fireplace were brought to light in one part of the building, while in another, assumed to be a storeroom, numerous bone fragments were found along with some wheat, an amphora and even some grape pips, irrefutable evidence of a winegrowing industry that would continue through the centuries to come.
On exhibition in the antiquarium, which is open to the public (the site in question is the property of the Cantine MezzaCorona) are a few slabs of ammonitic and verdello limestone, which are not directly related to the houses but which were found in 1932, again in Mezzocorona, during construction work on the winery.

Provincia Autonoma di Trento – Servizio beni Culturali – Ufficio beni Archeologici: Settemila anni di storia della Piana Rotaliana, Rovereto (Tn) 2002
Andrea Brugnara,  I luoghi dell’arte e della storia nel Comune di Lavis, Lavis, 2008