Villa Bartolomea

GEOGRAPHY

 

The town of Villa Bartolomea, with its surface of 53.23 km² is located at an average altitude of 14 m above sea level. It is 45 km away from Verona, and it lies between the river Adige and the river Tartaro. Most of its countryside is part of the Grandi Valli Veronesi. Its three fractions are: Spinimbecco, Carpi di Villa Bartolomea and San Zeno in Valle. It borders the Comune of Legnago, Castagnaro, Terrazzo, Castelnovo Bariano and Giacciano con Baruchella (these two under the province of Rovigo).

 

 

ETYMOLOGY

 

"Villa" originates from the Latin word Vicus: "Organization of associated families". According to the Salic Law, the term refers to a small burg or village. The name Villa Bartolomea appears in a written document of the 9th century. It can be assumed that the small town was already there at the time and that it was dedicated to San Bartolomeo.

 

 

HISTORY

 

The first human settlements date back to the Bronze Age, as proven by the wide necropolis discovered by sheer chance in 1968. The hundreds of tombs were lined up on several levels and the archaeological findings suggest that the funeral rituals made use of both cremation and interment.

 

In the area of Fabbrica dei Soci an interesting embanked village was discovered and brought to light, while more recently an ancient burg was identified and studied in the area of Lovara.

 

The remains of fortifications, agricultural centres, mosaic pavements, copious amount of clay bricks and the clearly visible track of the consular road Aemilia-Altinate testifies to the strong and long-lasting    Roman domination.

 

In 589, one of the most severe and violent floods of the river Adige, caused the flowing waters to change their course and turned the whole countryside into a broad marsh. The name of the town is first mentioned towards the end of the 800s, in a deed of gift signed by king Berengario in favour of the monastery of Vangadizza di Badia Polesine. Around the 1000s the terre alte (high lands) were reclaimed from the swamps, and upon them grew some villages with the help of the benedettini monks. Most of these lands were gifted by la Serenissima to the mercenary leader Luigi Dal Verme in 1405. They were passed to the Barbarico family and Ottobono Terzi afterward. Through marriage, the fief of Villa Bartolomea becomes property of the Sanbonifacio, a family that for centuries would condition and control the destiny of this land. The steady determination to reclaim the lands covered in swamps finally payed off in 1928, with the use of steam pumps, allowing containing the emigration phenomenon started with the annexation of Veneto to Italy in 1866. In the beginning of the last century another sort of emigration emerged along with seasonal work, holding up until the 1960s.

 

 

ART

 

Starting from the former historical centre, next to the river Adige, there is the ancient gothic-venetian Palazzina of the 15th century, first abode to the Conti Sanbonifacio, enhanced by a square tower. Opposite the Palazzina there is Villa Sanbonifacio, a majestic and prestigious building from the early 1900s, surrounded by a great garden in which is located the Colonna della Giustizia (Pillar of justice), token of the power of the family. Nearby there is a parish dedicated to San Barolomeo, built in fashion of the Renaissance between 1841 and 1855, by architect Cerini. A square apsis and a Roman bell tower that dates back to the twelfth-thirteenth century are connected to the church. Next to the church there is the Centro Parrocchiale, restored in the early 1990s.

 

On the main street of the town, dedicated to A. Fraccaroli, there is the former music school, built in a   neoclassical fashion in the late 1800s by count Milone di Sanbonifacio to house the Musical Band.  Further on, there is the Teatro Sociale, made in 1913 and decorated in liberty style by Bohemian war prisoner Joseph Pikora of Manchesten. Down the road there is also the School, built in 1913-1914 with its wide gardens, the war memorial and a monument to the grenadiers, the Town Hall made in 1878-1879 and finally Villa Ghedini, a typical aristocratic mansion of the late 1700s, with its annexed buildings and an Oratory, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, opposite the bell tower. Another important site of historical interest is La Pila, an industrial building that dates back to 1733 and is located on the Cagliara drainage, surrounded by houses and warehouse where the rice was stored. In the fraction of Carpi there is the parish dedicated to Santa Margherita with its splendid belfry and a peculiar sundial.

 

 

ECONOMY

 

The economy of Villa Bartolomea used to be entirely dependent on the production of beetroot, wheat, corn, soy, tobacco, potatoes, beans, green beans, pears and apples. From the 1970s - 1980s Villa Bartolomea discovered new economical opportunities with the birth of small and middle sized enterprises, especially in the food and textile branch, and with the development of the industrial area, where several companies can thrive, specialising in carpentry, heating and refrigeration systems and the production of wood-working machinery.