Unique and quirky Catholic medals like this really get me going. How about you? If so, consider this brass and enamel (painted) souvenir medal acquired in Fiero di Primiero, a municipality with the smallest land area (.15 square kilometers) in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region of northern Italy.
This autonomous region in was part of Austria-Hungary and its predecessors, the Austrian Empire and the Holy Roman Empire from the 8th century until its annexation by Italy in 1919. Since the 1970s most legislative and administrative functions have been transferred to the two autonomous provinces that make up the region: Trentino and South Tyrol. This history and dual management may account for some of the spelling differences I encountered while researching the locations on the medal.
The face of the medal features a poignant image of the Madonna with Baby Jesus holding what looks like a ski pole. To their left is written in Italian, "N. Signora delle Alpi" with a lovely alpine flower beneath it. Devotional smoothing makes it difficult to read what looks like an artist's signature along the left edge.
Where the top left quadrant has been cut out, we see color representations of four areas in the Dolomite Mountains: part of the Southern Limestone Alps and declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in August 2009. Locations include Lachetto (Lake) Welsperg, Rif. (Rifugio) Treviso, Rif. (Rifugio) Previdali (also spelled Pradidali), and Sass Maor, an eastern mountain face popular for climbing that experienced a collapse in December 2011.
Like cloisonné, each depiction is defined by raised lines and then filled with enamel. In this case, it is filled with vividly colored epoxy enamel, not vitreous enamel. As this medal was actively used, possibly even attached to a ski parka, there is some loss of paint in some images.
The verso, which is the scalloped base medal, is marked "Fiero di Primiero" and adorned with Alpine flowers, skis, poles and what looks like a crutch to me. God knows I would need one after skiing down these slopes!
This superb religious medal will delight collectors and anyone who skis or has affection for this part of the world. It is fully functional and in excellent vintage condition, and is fun to play with too. Comes boxed and ready for gift-giving.
Weight – 21 grams
Dimensions – 1-3/8 inches
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