The inhabitants of Flero were called many years ago “Gos de Flèr” (Goitre of Flero) because of the large number of goitred people among the population. We don’t know the cause of the goitre, and it is also difficult to establish the reason why this disease afflicted many inhabitants of the valleys in Bergamo. Anyway, it is sure thatGioppino dai tre gozzi (Gioppino with three goitres) did not come from Flero. We’re sure of it, but we can’t say as much for the many events that made the history of the village. Especially those concerning ancient history. But the land bore us some witnesses of the Roman presence, both in Coler and in Onsato Quarters. In Contegnaga, they discovered a gravestone, whose text, like a text written by a parent to his son, moves us.
In the territory of Flero, as in all the other cities and communes in north Italy, many populations and dominations passed one after the other, but the village never became an important centre. The name of Flero remains in some rare documents, just to inform us that its lands were feuds of the St. Giulia’s Convent, in Brescia. The polyptych of St. Giulia tells us that ten serfs, almost reduced to slavery, lived there and worked the lands. Some people claim that the two gravestones on the corner between via V. Emanuele and via Solferino, opposite to Don Bosco parish youth centre, show the presence of St. Salvatore Monastery, because of the initials “S” and “G”. If those initials referred to St. Giulia, they should be very ancient, because the Latin name of Giulia is Julia; if the gravestones were really ancient, they should refer to something unknown.
In the land registry of 1819, they highlight an area, the “Monastery”, which is nowadays in the properties of Masetti and Zichetti, as far as the Muse ditch. What is it about? It is the ancient monastery-house of the Humiliati of St. Bartolomeo, in Contegnaga. They expanded greatly in the XVII-XVI centuries; they were rich because of their work in textile, and because of the production of woollen clothes (pannilana), also called “Humiliati clothes”. In 1344, only nine friars, two nuns and some serfs lived in the monastery, therefore it was united to St. Faustino Monastery, in Brescia. But the old building kept the name, even if there were no more friars.
Other religious orders: the ss. Cosma and Damiano Convent of Brescia owned houses and pieces of land in Flero; the Fathers of St. Pietro’s Monastery had some properties, too.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Flero was still a small village, with 700/800 inhabitants; life depended on weather conditions. Because of its closeness to the city, nobles started to buy most of the lands, and to build holiday houses. The Hippoliti de Mantua house, the Calzaveglia palace in Onsato, now municipal property, and the Feroldi (now Prandelli) palace deserve to be remembered.
Other houses enriched the architectural patrimony of Flero: the medieval tower-houses, restored now to their former beauty. And then the present residence of Franceschini, el Löch vèc; èl Monastèr (the monastery), the residence of Counts Masetti Zannini; Zampedrini’s house.
While nobles built holiday houses, inhabitants worked the land; they had also the opportunity to work in the three furnaces of the village, owned by Emiliano Luchino.
A village should have a sanctuary: Flero has the Madonna del Carmelo Sanctuary. Its story is interesting: we know that in 1168 there was in Contegnaga a little church, St. Zenone, a property of the Cathedral of Brescia. We also know the names of the rector who said mass during the following centuries. In 1624, the little church is known as “Oratory of the Virgin Mary in the quarter of Contignana”. In the eighteenth century, they rebuilt it and in the nineteenth century restored it thanks to the donations of benefactors and the help of the family Albini, who placed also a statue of the Madonna. The population redeemed the church and gave it to Flero’s parish. The devotion has been lasting for a long time, and the church is today the Madonna del Carmelo Sanctuary. Its feast is on the 16th July.
There are lands with no cultural or social traditions, where time passes quietly, and where only wars and pestilences disturb the peace. Someone could say it’s not worth telling their story. But history consists of continuity, of resistance to evil and pain; it is the amalgam that ties together people in a community; it consists of tradition. Flero has this fund.