Historical geographical notes on

A village of the middle Valcamonica, Prestine is located on the right side of Prestello river, an affluent of the torrent Grigna, which gives the name to the valley. Prestine is 16,06 square kilometres wide and it is 610 metres above sea-level high. In 1934, there was the highest demographic development, with 1,100 inhabitants. Now the residents are 405. The origins go back to the Etruscan period, previous to the Romans, who gave the name to the village, even if there are several interpretations, as for exemple Prae-stoenas, in reference to Storo in Trentino, ancient capital of the Stoeno people. The village is located along the transit way, confirmed by the archaeological discoveries of the ancient road that went from Civitas Camunorum (Cividate Camuno) to Crocedomini Pass, until Pagus Livii (Bagolino), and then Stoenas (Storo), capital of the Stoeno people. Some finds on the Castelar rise have proved the existence of Roman settlements, as the Romans conquered all the Camunian territory. During that period iron excavation and working probably developed, thanks to machines moved by the power of water (forges hammers). Of course, among the other activities there were pasture, goats breeding, the cutting and carbonization of wood. Another ancient activity is the working of rock, being the mountains around rich in porphyry, slate, granite. Prestine's territory was probably among the goods of the bishop of Brescia, though bloody oppositions. Some statutes report quotations against Valcamonica's Ghibellines (followers of the Empire, against the Guelphs of the Pope who fought for the supremacy of the territory), as the quotation of 6th July 1251: an arbitration of Ghibellines from Prestine and Breno who were indemnified for banishments and penalties and exempt from paying taxes to Brescia. The village was for several periods in direct contact with Brescia, paying the taxes directly, without passing through intermediaries; this fact was a demonstration of strong authonomy. On 14th April 1299 Prestine's representatives swore fidelity to the bishop of Brescia and contributed with Cividate Camuno to the maintenance of the streets and of the bridge on Oglio river. The authonomy of the village was several times confirmed and lead to the formation, in 1440, together with other villages nearby, of small confederate republics. In the following years, Prestine mantained fidelity towards the Republic of Venice, as proved by the writings about battles in favour of the Venetians, who gave favours and privileges in taxation. This fact lead also to contrasts with the near village of Bienno, because of matters of borders and administration relationships. With the foreign domination, the French occupation of Brescia in 1509, a period of conflicts began, with sacks between neighbouring villages, such as Prestine and Bienno, thus leading the village to submission and to the loss of privileges and authonomy. Meanwhile, the village got bigger because of people immigrating in order to escape from the pestilences of towns. On 7th July 1934 there was a very serious flood which had started from a landslide in Serla and had kept the water for three days; then it invaded the whole Valgrigna with materials and mud, causing very serious damages. The government of Venice gave contributes and reductions in taxation and thanks to the hard work of the inhabitants the village was rebuilt where it stands today. A lot of work was done for communication roads, the Main Church was built up and the Sanctuary of Our Lady was enlarged. In the meantime, Prestine became a locality of Bienno and the Society of the Ancient Natives was constituted; it still exists and is composed of Tottoli, Trombini, Panizzoli, Valtrompini and Romelli families, which had to administrate some parts of the municipal district. Under the Napoleonic domination, Prestine found an authonomy that got stronger during the following years. The development of new working techniques brought another advantage to the village, even though at the beginning of the 20th century the event which characterized modern history started: emigration abroad. Every family in Prestine has some emigrants to France or to Switzerland. At the end of the First World War a new road that links Prestine with Bienno was built and was later enlarged until the actual tracing. With a law of 27th October 1927, Prestine's Municipal District was unified with Bienno's one until 6th May 1947. The Second World War, the Resistance and the Fallen are part of recent history that older people often tell us about.