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La Caveja, symbol of Romagna

From the rural world, we find it today in signs, crossroads, songs...

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Where is


Santarcangelo di Romagna, Unione di comuni Valmarecchia, RN, EMR, 47822, Italia (40m s.l.m.)


What is it and where is it

I say "Romagna," what springs to mind? Probably to most the piadina, the Riviera, the proverbial hospitality of the inhabitants of this beautiful land... A Romagnolo will immediately think of fields of wheat, the song of crickets in the ditches, vineyards in the golden light of sunset, the cappelletti of mothers or grandmothers.The Caveja, which in Italian can be translated as "cavicchio," is the symbol that manages to capture the essence of all these elements. In the rural world, the Caveja was the solid metal pin that attached the oxen's yoke to the cart or plow. On downhill stretches, this pivot also prevented the wagon from skidding forward, ending up with all its load on the oxen. From being a work tool, the Caveja went on to be a real artistic artifact, loaded with all the symbolic meanings that in the collective imagination represent the truest Romagna: toil in the fields, work dictated by seasonal cycles... In short, the Caveja is the authentic sign of the Romagnolo's strongest love bond to his land.

Why it is special

The Caveja is made up of several elements. The elongated part, for the actual hooking, culminates in the so-called "report card," which over time has given way to iron artists and craftsmen to transform the Caveja into an expression of art: the iron was given various shapes: rooster, dove, peacock, crescent moon, all symbols proper to life in the fields; forms proper to the Christian tradition, such as the cross, could also be given. A series of rings, usually an even number, are hooked to the report card, producing a characteristic noise, different for each Caveja. It was this noise that gave farmers a way to recognize the transit of wagons in the night (hence, the name, in Romagnolo, "Caveja cantarena," Caveja canterina).

A bit of history

Beginning in the eighteenth century, Caveje began to become an expression of a landowner's social status. Those who were wealthy enough to afford highly decorated Caveje used them only on particular feast days, certainly not for work in the fields, for which there were far more essential tools. One indicator of wealth was the number of rings attached to report cards. Decorative bows, on the other hand, represented the municipalities of Romagna (for example, a Caveja with red and white bows would be celebratory of the city of Forli).


The superstition of past peasant civilization assigned many magical functions to the Caveja. It was thought, for example, to predict the sex of the unborn child or the weather of the next day. It was used to stop thunderstorms, with a very special ritual involving singing and dancing, or to drive away evil goblins. Among many other "magical" functions, one of the most unique is its use to facilitate the capture of bees... In 1992 a Caveja was donated by the mayor of Forli to Mikhail Gorbachev.

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Lorenzo Bandini


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