Legnago, with its surface of 79.27 km², is located at an average altitude of 16 m above sea level. It is 43 km from Verona, and together with Cerea is the most relevant town in the southern area of the province. Until a few years ago Legnago was only second to Verona for number of inhabitants. It is also close to Mantova, Rovigo, Vicenza, Padova and Ferrara, in a strategic location of the lower Veronese Valley. Legnago is the last town of Verona’s province that is touched by the river Adige. Its fractions are Canove, Porto, San Pietro, San Vito, Terranegra, Torretta, Vangadizza and Vigo. It borders the municipalities of Angiari, Bonavigo, Boschi Sant’Anna, Cerea, Minerbe, Terrazzo and Villa Bartolomea (Verona); Bergantino and Castelnuovo Bariano (Rovigo).
According to a legend, the name Legnago comes from a mythical Greek character whose name was Lematho, who supposedly arrived there sailing across the Adriatic Sea and up the river Adige. Once he set foot in the former town’s area he was struck by the fertility of the country land, its fresh air and advantageous location; so he supposedly decided to settle there with his men, naming that land Lemniacum. Conversely, according to some historians the name Legnago originates from the word “legna” or “ligna” (“wood” in Italian). To back up this hypothesis are the great amounts of woods in the area and the tree log depicted in the ancient municipal emblem, already in use in the 400s. Others believe that the origin of the name is Roman, specifically referring to the “Forum Allieni” mentioned by Tacito and in the “l’Anejanum” of the Itinerarium Antonini of the second century. According to Theodor Mommsen, supported by don Giuseppe Trecca, the Roman noble Allieno Cecina, sworn to Emperor Vitellio, received the privilege of a market bearing his name: “Forum Allieni”, then “Forum Allieniacum”, then “allieniacum” and finally: “Leuniac”, “Leniaci/cum”, “Lignago” and “Legnago.
Traces of a former stilt house village, found in 1931, suggest the presence of early human settlements of the Stone Age. The Fioroni Civic Museum hosts findings of early Venetian and Etruscan civilizations. The place where Legnago is believed to have originated is the Forum Allieni, as referenced by Latin historian Tacito. In 932 castles were built on both sides of the bridge on the river Adige to ensure its defence. The castle of Legnago on the right bank and the castle of Porto on the left. The fortification was later conquered by Langobards, Franks and German emperors. Around the year 1000 the town became part of the property of the Bishop of Verona; it was then traded for Monteforte d’Alpone and Tregnago in 1207. The town was then acquired by Ezzelino IV da Romano, of the Scaligeri (who kept it until 1287), then by the Visconti and the Carraresi. In 1405, the town inhabitants decided to join the Republic of Venice, which in 1528 hired Michele Sanmicheli, a civil and military architect, to reinforce the fortifications and re-design them in the shape of a star. The fortress became one of the strongholds of Veneto and an important fluvial juncture thanks to its harbour on River Adige, its long line of water mills and the draw-bridge designed to allow the passage of ships. It was also a cultural centre, with its schools, its literary academy and theatre. The fortifications were largely dismantled in 1801 upon Napoleon’s order. In 1814 along with Mantova, Peschiera and Verona, Legnago became one of the cornerstones of the quadrilateral where the Austrians organized their troops until 1866, when Veneto was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. Two years later the town suffered a disastrous flood of the river Adige, which repeated itself in 1882. The town, partly destroyed by the bombings during the Second World War, follows the trace of Sanmicheli’s urban architecture style.
What is worth seeing inside the Archaeological museum of the Fioroni Foundation is the rich collection of findings, papers, documents and relics from different historical ages. The Torrione of Libertà square is the only remaining of the four towered castles of the 900s. The church of Salvaro, built in the 1100s in San Pietro, is one of the most ancient Romanesque buildings of the area of Verona. The Romanesque parish in San Vito was built in the same century. Some artworks from the 1400s by Ranuccio Avari are the “Madonna con bambino” and “Maria Della Misericordia”, which can be admired in the church dell’Assunta, and the painting “Madonna dell’Umiltà”, saved from the bombing of 1945 together with some frescos, in the ancient Sanctuary of Madonna della Salute. In the 1400s the Scodellari palace was built, now palazzo Bianchi, home to “De’ Provveditori e Capitani”, whose Gothic Venetian façade presents a mullioned window. The old parish of S.Martino is enriched by precious elements such as the “Vergine con Santi” by Mantenga, a polychrome “Pietà”, a baptismal Font and some altarpieces by Antonio Balestra. The “wood” of Porto shows elements of Venetian domination, such as the tower-house corners adorned with masks, and the building in Concola with the same architectural style. The five Lions of San Marco of 1532, by Sanmichele, are placed around the centre of Legago and Porto. From the same century are the bell tower (placed next to the Duomo), the small church of the convent of S. Antonio of the Franciscan friars, the sanctuary of S. Tommas, which is interesting because of its Roman traces and the country house with its tower embellished by the Pompei emblem . From the same years are the painting of la Madonna by Brusasorci in the parish of Vigo, a “Deposition” by Paolo Farinati in the church of S. Maria of Vangadizza, where there are also a “Madonna col Bambino” by Claudio Ridolfi, two pieces of Venetian School and finally the frescoed church of S.Salvaro in S.Pietro, by Daniele dal Pozzo. The theatre “Sociale” was built in the 1600s, and was later named after to the famous musician Antonio Salieri, born in Legnago during the second half of the 1700s. There is also the bell tower of S.Rocco, with a Baroque small altar, surrounded by restored buildings of the same age and palace San Bonifacio. In the church dell’Assunta there is a large piece by Claudio Ridolfi that depicts Saint Rocco and other Saints. Inside the Duomo, inaugurated in 1814, are the remains of the Romanesque church of S. Martino, demolished during the Napoleonic Era, consisting in a baptismal font of the 1400s and a tablet of the 1500s named “Disciplina”. The Austrian fortifications date back to the 1800s, the “veronesa” gate and Palazzo Accordi are also remarkable, which now host the Museum of the Fioroni Forundation and the Civic libary. There are some liberty Villas of the early 1900s in viale dei Tigli. The municipal Palace was designed by Giovanni De Stefani and built in 1902.
Legnago is trying to offer a new economical profile, aspiring to grow from its traditional role in agriculture to an industrial and commercial centre. Corn, wheat, soy and beets are the kingpin of its agricultural business, which relies upon sophisticated and ecological tecniques. However, the establishment of new productive realities and the strengthening of its road network are what the town is really investing on today. Legnago is renowned as the city of “heating and air conditioning” and its production is ground breaking at international level, encouraging its several companies of commerce and craftsmanship, which rose in the economical boom of the ’80s, as well as the establishment of engineering, enological, chemical and food industries.