Erbè

GEOGRAPHY

Erbè is located 25 km away from Verona. The town's surroundings are rich in water, with the rivers Tione and Tartaro flowing across its land. It lies southwest of Verona and it borders the province of Mantova. With its surface of 15.94 km², it is located at an average altitude of 22 m above sea level. Its only fraction is Madonna di Erbè. It borders the comuni of Isola della Scala, Nogara, Trevenzuolo and Sorgà (province of Verona) and Castelbelforte (province of Mantova). 

ETYMOLOGY

The origins of the name are likely tied to the Latin word "herbetum". The suffix was gradually cropped more and more with time, going from "etum" to "edo" then to "ed" then to "eo" and then finally just "è". The meaning of the name is attributable to the substantial amount of grass growing in this marshy land, definitely rich in waters, shrubs and plants.

HISTORY

Paleovenetian remains were discovered around Tremolin and Castion, evidence of the ancient origins of the former human settlements around Erbè.

Clear traces of the Romans’ presence were identified in what remains of a road of the time, around the river Tione, in Tremolino. The digging brought to light coins, jewellery, crockery and stone walls.

Throughout the centuries, this inhabited area, suffered several different invasions. First came the Longobards, until 823 when King Beregario besowed it upon the Benedettini monks of San Zeno of Verona, turning it into a monastic fief. Around the year 1000, due to the quarrels with Mantova, a castle was built, called "castrum" it ensured protection for the town of Erbè.

In 1177 the area suffered an intense earthquake, and in 1320 its inhabitants were plagued by a pestilence.

The monastic fief reached its highest point in 1668, when it incorporated the nearby lands of Roncolevà, Moratica, San Pietro in Valle, Granarolo and Trevenzuolo. The fief lasted until 1797 when it was abolished by Napoleone. It became a Comune around the end of that century.

The town developed especially through the Middle Ages. Its inhabitants were peasants and small landowners, whose harvests hardly provided enough sustenance. Nonoetheless, the area was enriched by rural mansions, noble villas and churches, such as the church of Santa Maria Novella, also known as Erbedello, that with its frescoed interiors represents a valuable piece of Romanesque architecture and Medieval painting.  Despite the historical value of these frescos, it was about completely ignored by historians. The first to show interest in this building, around the end of the fourteenth century, was Pietro Garzotti, the abbot of Isola della Scala, who played a vital role in the recovery of the frescos. 

The life of Erbè and its historical events were for a long time tied to Isola della Scala. Both towns served as hunting estate for the Scaligeri, during their domination. A palace built in 1878 carries the town emblem, which portrays a hand holding a grass bundle.

ART

Among the most appealing and visited places there certainly is the church of Santa Maria Novella, also known as Madonna di Erbedello. A ninth-century Romanesque building covered in frescos mainly dedicated to Mary, among them stands out "Madonna in trono con bambino" painted by the scholars of Altichiero in the late fourteenth century. There is also the parish of San Giovanni Battista, built in 1735 upon the ruins of a sixteenth-century church, mantaining its original capitals, bell tower and presbitery. Many noble mansions are scattered across this area, fascinating villas such as: Villa Maffei, (later Bertoli) that among other buildings constitute a court facing the countryside at its back, Villa Gallici, a noble building of the Gallici family from the sixteenth century until the nineteenth, when it was transformed into a distinguished vacation residence by the owner Gasparre Gallici. Today the property belongs to Milada Nuvolari. Around the Madonna area, there is "Corte della Mora" a building compound constituded by the oratory of Madonna del Carmine, the villa and the rural houses.

ECONOMY

 

Agriculture is the main activity, once focused on rice farming, now specialized in the production of melons. Local industries process the livestock coming from the surrounding chicken and turkey farms. The town's companies generally revolve around handicraft, on the model of family business.