Castel d'Azzano

GEOGRAPHY

Castel d'Azzano, with its surface of 9.72 km², is located at an average altitude of 44 m above sea level. It is 6 km south of Verona. It belongs to the drainage basin of river Tartaro and karst springs are common in its territory. Part of its residential area is adjacent to the outskirts of Verona. It's fractions are: Azzano, Rizza and San Martino. It borders the Comuni of Buttapietra, Vigasio and Verona.

ETYMOLOGY

The name's origin is probably the latin proper noun Attius, very popular in the Roman age, while "Castello" simply refers to the castle, still present today, that left a mark in the town's history. Castel d'Azzano was inhabited in prehistory and even though the archaeological are not many, they are quite interesting. Up until the arrival of the Scaligeri no traces are found of written documents referencing this land.

HISTORY

These lands were preumably inhabited since Prehistory. Some historians believe the name to be a reference to the Roman Gens Attia, while according to others it derives from Azzo d'Este, who built the castle. In the land surrounding Castel d'Azzano there are several karst springs, which consist in build-ups of water in the subsoil that filther through the surface creating many streams and small rivers, enriching the environment. Those springs gave life to the lake of Vacaldo, which used to expand on a surface of 14 hectares. Its two main economical qualities were the amount of water it provided for the irrigation of the nearby farmlands and the production of fish, even if in small amounts. The lake entered history thanks to Federico Barbarossa, who set up an encampment next to Vigasio in 1164 using the waters of the lake as a natural defence. The oldest topographical record of the area of the lake is a picture drawn in 1568 by the experts Iseppo dalli Pontoni and Giacomo dell'Abaco, now stored in the Public Archive of Venice and recently displayed in 2004 in the halls of Palazzo Correr in Venezia.

The division of the town's districts under several different jurisdictions slowed the process that led to the establishment of the Comune. In the 13th century the Counts Nogarola acquired the land of Azzano from the Scaligeri family, the former family married into the latter and played a central role in the development of the town. The Nogarolas proceeded to reclaim lands and developed both agriculture and animal farming in Azzano, which started to expand precisely around their residence and the church they built in 1310. They maintained their ownership on these lands for centuries, even during the Venetian domination and the following troubled period.

Once under the Venetian influence, the territory was divided into five parsonages: Tavoli, Azzano, Castel d'Azzano, Ca' di Robbi.

In 1799 the surrounding countryside became the scenario of an important battle between Napoleon and Austria. With the Unification of Italy, Count Antonio Nogarola became Major of the town until 1899, when Count Ludovico Violini Nogarola took his place until 1917.

Today Castel d'Azzano is essentially an extension of Verona towards the southern lands of its province. It includes the populous fractions Azzano and Beccacivetta that contribute to its high population density.

ART

Castel d'Azzano is rich in both holy sites and Villas. For example the church of Santa Maria di Azzano, remembered in the papal bull of Onorio III in 1221, or the small church of the Madonna del Bosco, built in the 1300s and renewed in the 1700s. Another church worth visiting is Santa Maria Annunziata with what remains of its frescos, built in 1310 by Count Dinadano Nogarola and restored at the late 1900s. Another place worthy of interest is surely the castle of medieval origins, built by Azzo d'Este and entirely rebuilt at the beginning of the 1800s. It hosts several statues and frescos. Its main hall displays an outstanding ceiling, garnished of paintings portraying constellations. Negligence, military operations and nefarious sales brought the castle to a pitiful state of degradation. Today it is fortunately shining again after years of restoration. Finally, it is worth seeing Villa Violini (Once Nogarola) from the Middle Ages and Villa Cesari named after the scholar Antonio Cesari, that often spent his downtime there.

ECONOMY

As an extension of the industrial area of Verona, Castel d'Azzano is characterised by a high population density. The economy of the small town evolved from an extensive agriculture, with wide lands dedicated to cereal cultivation, to model based on smaller proprieties focussed on horticulture. In the last thirty years an interesting industrial development has taken place with the establishment of mechanical, chemical and food industries, causing a substantial demographic increase, which had a severe impact on the landscape in addition to other problems of various nature.