Gazzo Veronese

GEOGRAPHY

Gazzo is 36km south of Verona and with its surface of 56,7 km² is located at an altitude of 13-19 m above sea level. The town is situated in the low Veronese Valley and the river Tione flows through it. On its lands there is the Oasi del Busatello, a nature reserve granted to the WWF in 1996. The reserve's territory covers an area that is shared with the comune of Ostiglia, from the Valli Grandi Veronesi.

 

The current town municipality originates in 1929 with the joining of Gazzo and Correzzo, the town hall was then moved to Roncanova, a halfway point between the two. Gazzo's fractions are:  Roncanova, Correzzo, Maccari, Pradelle and San Pietro in Valle. It borders with: Sorgà, Nogara, Sanguinetto and Casaleone under the province of Verona; Ostiglia, Serravalle a Po, Sustinente and Villimpenta under the province of Mantova.

 

 

ETYMOLOGY

 

The town's name originates from the word "gahagi", a longobardic word that means "fenced wood" suggesting the presence of widespread woods. The name was supposedly given to the area in the seventh century, along with some privilege grants. Worth mentioning is the etymology of some fractions like Correzzo from "Corrigium" from the Latin word corniga which means "leather strip", to describe the strip of land it occupied: a dried, but formerly swampy area. Maccacari's name comes from an ancient family called Tramarinus Machacarus, as recorded in 942. Roncanova contains the Latin words runcare (literally to remove woods), which references its cleared and then farmed lands, and novus, meaning "new".  

 

 

HISTORY

 

Gazzo is one of the few places where a continuity of human dwellings can be observed since ancient times. The town's surroundings were inhabited since the Neolithic (4500 - 4000 b.C.) as proven by some archaeological findings discovered around the Tartaro and other smaller rivers. These findings are entrusted to the local Archaeological Museum that hosts Bronze, Iron and Roman Age materials. Gazzo reached its importance during the Roman domination. The fall of the Empire caused a noticeable depopulation, and the consequent neglect of the land caused the swamps to rapidly reappear. The reclamation works were undertaken in the eighth century by the Benedictine monks, the fief of Gazzo was awarded to them, and then passed onto Federico della Scala. If churches and parishes were the symbol of religious power, the town's castle was the emblem of civilian authority. It was built in 1198 and was often the object of violent quarrels between Verona and Mantova. In 1242 the fortress was razed by Ezzelino da Romano and in 1277 it became property, with a great amount of its surrounding lands, of the Scaligeri, whereas under the domination of Venice some estates were inherited by the Giusti family and to the Olivetani monks. Intensive works of drainage and land reclamation allowed rice farming and the building of houses, religious buildings and mills. Rice farming was also the main activity of the noble Montanari family of Prandelle and the San Zeno abbey monks of San Pietro in Valle. During the Napoleonic era (1796-1814) Gazzo suffered famine, floods and uprisings, allowing banditry to thrive and last even through the Austrian domination (1814-1866). Even if the people weren’t directly involved in wars or battles, the unrest towards the repressive Austrian regime kept increasing. After the annexation of Veneto to the Kingdom of Italy, this area of the Veronese Valley was forgotten by history until the First World War.

 

 

ART

 

In Gazzo's town centre one can admire the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, built again between 1117 and 1150, later restored in the 1400s. It was part of an ancient Benedictine monastery and it is covered in mosaics and frescos. Annexed to the church is Villa Parolin Poggiani, which hosts the Archaeological Museum with its artefacts and findings from a timespan that goes from the Neolithic to the Roman era. Behind the hamlet of San Pietro in Valle there is, looming above the country, the cluniac church of San Pietro in Monastero, known as "El Ceson", it was probably built between the seventh and the nineth century. The Greek-cross shaped building, made of re-used Roman bricks and marbles, is overlooked by the fascinating and impressive tower.  In Pradelle there is the church of San Prosdocimo, first bishop of Padova. Built in the fifteenth century and recently restored, this church hosts a precious sixteenth-century triptych by Giolfino. Between the most artistically and architecturally interesting buildings of Gazzo it is worth mentioning the elegant Villa Montanari, known as "Palazzo del Merli" sporting a late-gothic look on top of the original structure of the medieval Castle, as well as the ancient Longobardic church of San Giovanni Battista, restored in 1685. In the fracion of Maccacari, next to the church, there is the Corte dominicale Capello, with its dovecote tower, while in Roncanova there is an interesting parish and a palace of the 1400s. Noteworthy are also the Corte domenicale Lando in Levà di Sopra, the ancient fourteenth-century mill, property of the Mantovanis, and only recently restored, Palazzo Corte Vecchia, Villa Giusti Roncoletta, Villa Lando Altihieri and Villa Guarienti.

 

 

ECONOMY

 

The area, particularly rich in water, has always thrived mostly on agriculture. Grains and beetroot plantations are plentiful and so are milk farms. It is also part of the production area of Riso Nano Vialone Veronese. Important for employment is the presence of a glass factory of large dimensions, an important logistics company and some craftsmanship businesses.