Felix Fabri describes the town of Valscian, also known as In der Burg, in his second pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Fabri’s party rode through Valscian on their way from Trent, Italy to Spiteli, Italy, stopping only for a “short rest” in the town (17). The journey from Trent to Spiteli was only one day’s travel; they left Trent on the 22nd of April after Mass and arrived at Spiteli during the night. Most of Fabri’s account of Valscian is centered on the history of the town’s name and the geography of the surrounding area, with a focus on language.
Fabri describes Valscian as a “long, wide, and fertile valley” with inhabitants that speak both German and Italian (17). In his first mention of the town’s name, Fabri notes that it is only called Valscian in the “vulgar tongue,” which refers to and shows Fabri’s bias against the Italian language. When he finds a resident that speaks German, Fabri asks why Valscian is called as such, which highlights Fabri’s interest in language and the meaning and history behind the name. In telling the history of Valscian, the man from Valscian tells Fabri that the name ‘Valscian’ translates to ‘the dry valley’ and details how the valley had been filled with water in ancient times. The recounting of Valscian’s history reveals that there are iron rings to moor ships on the sides of the mountains surrounding the valley, which illustrates the level of water previously in it and how the culture and uses of the valley have changed over time. Fabri specifically writes that he gains a greater understanding of the local geography from the townsperson’s story, but words it in a way that makes it seem as if he is giving himself all of the credit for discovering this revolutionary fact that the townsperson just told him: “[f]rom this story [Fabri] was able to note that all the valleys in these mountains which trend towards the sea were once full of water, and were channels leading into the Mediterranean Sea, even as now happens in lands close to the sea, as [Fabri had] said before” (17). By seeming to give himself the credit for making this connection, Fabri places himself above the townsperson in intellect or possibly just ignores the role of the townsperson in general to focus on himself. In the next sentence, Fabri writes that the “Germans call Valscian In der Burg,” reestablishing the role of Germany and the German people in his recount and in the identity of the town, even though Valscian is in Italy and should probably therefore be called by its Italian name (17-18). Including a brief statement about why Germans call the town In der Burg, Fabri reasserts his interest in the histories and names of places. Alternatively, it could be argued that Fabri is comparing the history and relevancy of each name, although the connotation of his descriptive phrase about the history of the German name In der Burg comes off as fairly neutral. From his added tangent of the reason behind Germans calling Valscian In der Burg, Fabri includes more geographic information about the Vascian: “there are two castles overlooking the town, and the town lies within the castle wall,” which highlights his interest in the physical and geographic aspects of location (18).