San Giovanni Lupatoto

GEOGRAFY

The town of San Giovanni Lupatoto, with its surface of 18.94 km² is located at an average altitude of 42 m above sea level. It is 6 km south of Verona. The river Adige flows through its lands, along with some watercourses that are vital for irrigation. Its fractions are Camacici, Pozzo and Raldon. It borders the Comune of Verona, Buttapietra, San Martino Buon Albergo, Zevio and Oppeano.

ETYMOLOGY

The origins of the town's name are quite uncertain and there are different theories about them. "San Giovanni" was only added to the name once the parish was established, while the term Lupatoto may come from: Lupum Totum, the possible latin name of an Roman encampment during the occupation of the territories along the Vicum Veronesins (a road), in the 2nd century b.C., or lupi ad totum, wolves everywhere, possibly inspired by the presence of wild woods infested with wolves.

HISTORY

The origins of the population of San Giovanni Lupatoto are very ancient. The first inhabitants of this land were the Euganei, stilt house dwellers whose remains can still be observed around Raldon. The first written record of the town's name is only found in a document of 1178 which describes a land named: "Sancutm Jahannem ad lupum totum", literally: "San Giovanni around the place all wolves." Main evidence of this popular etymological interpretation is the town's emblem, which portrays a heraldic wolf. In 1223 an important historical event, the Peace of Paquara, took place. Under the lead of Friar Giovanni da Schio, over 400.000 people, including bishops and princes, gathered to put an end to the constant feuds and wars during the transitory phase in which the free Comuni became Signorie. The foundations of social and economical development were laid in the fifteenth century, thanks to mulberry farming and early irrigation systems. Several more irrigation projects were launched in the early 1600s, opening the irrigation ditches near Sorio, today famous as "Le bocche di Sorio" (the mouths of Sorio). In 1630, the plague carried its scourge on the population. Of the 800 inhabitants recorded by the census only 271 survived the pestilence. The end of the epidemic was credited to a divine intervention by the Madonna, and "la chiesa della Madonnina", a church in the style of the Renaissance, was built to honour her name. The town only flourished again in the second half of the 1800s, when several infrastructural projects were achieved such as the placement of roads, street lights, new schools, a ferry on river Adige and a market in town. At the end of the nineteenth century the first industries appeared: the industrial plants of "Vetri"and "Festi e Rasini". San Giovanni Lupatoto experienced an intense industrial development in the early 1900s, with the introduction of important factories.

ART

There are several locations of artistic interest that are worth visiting, such as the fraction Raldon where the remains of a Roman necropolis have been discovered, constituting the most ancient evidence of early settlements in the area. In Sorio there is a small church dedicated to the Vergine Assunta, but now known as the oratory of San Pietro Martire and San Giorgio, where there are seventeenth-century paintings and frescos. Another place worth seeing is the church Della Madonnina, built in 1630, by the people, as a vow of gratitude towards the Virgin Mary for the intercession that saved them from the plague. Another interesting holy site is the church of San Giovanni Battista, built in the shape of the Latin cross in 1772, with a dome and a belfry. The interior of the building is in Renaissance style and is covered in decorations and frescos from the 1950s. There is an exquisite barrel organ made in 1910.

Among the buildings worth pointing out there is Palazzo Campagnola, town hall since 1932. Inside of it there is the Sala del Consiglio, with a frescoed ceiling and a marble bust of Federico Garofoli (1789-1861). In the hall of the Giunta Municipale there is a topographic map drawn by Giovanni Nachius of 1625. The banner of the Comune hangs from the walls of the mayor's office: a blue cloth with silvery inscriptions and decoration, and the town emblem portraying a rampant wolf. There is also a painting of the Virgin with Child and San Giovanni Battista, by the brush of the citizen Alessandro Galiber. Also worth seeing is Villa Palazzoli, a great 1700s building, rebuilt in 1820 by L. Castellani. Its façade shows a stark and classical style. Beside the great main entrance gate, two caryatids sustain the balcony. Villa Wallner is an interesting court dating back to the 1400s, along with its woods, an uncommon example of how the landscape of the town looked some centuries ago.

ECONOMY

The last decades of the 20th century witnessed to the birth of industries branching in confectionery, food, textile, electricity, chemicals and engineering, substantially decreasing the importance of the role of traditional agriculture like wheat, corn, strawberries, apples and peaches.