Legend has it that during Imperial Roman times, a terrible battle took place right where the village was later built. And the fury of the warriors in the two armies was so intense, the battle lasted so long, that blood ran in rivers. The field where the battle took place was named “sanguenè” or “bloody”.
Sanguinetto is a town of about 5000 inhabitants deep in the “BASSA” [lower] part of the plains of Verona.
Like all towns in the Po valley, it has hot summers and mild winters.
The distinctive trait of Sanguinetto is the Medieval castle at the centre of the town.
Massive, well-set on square walls, still complete with a wide moat that goes all the way around, and seven towers.
The first document that mentions the castle of Sanguinetto dates back to 1377. This document is a “public instrument” by which Antonio and Bartolomeo della Scala – the Lords of Verona – donate the castle and lands of Sanguenè to the aristocrat Jacopo dal Verme, to repay him for his valorous and faithful work.
In the Fifteenth century, ownership of the castle was transferred to the Venetian Republic, and to the Venier family, Venetian aristocrats who ruled over the town of Sanguinetto.
It later became a prison. It is currently mostly owned by the municipality, and is home to the municipal offices, the schools, and the municipal theatre, while a part of the castle is still privately owned.
In 1751, to stand as a witness in a court hearing, Carlo Goldoni stopped over in Sanguinetto and, it seems, drew inspiration from certain events that unfolded beneath the shadows of the castle to write his “Il Feudatario”.
In the mid-1800s, Garibaldi also stayed here.
Another famous guest at Sanguinetto was Franz Joseph I of Austria, and a legend is told of his stay in Sanguinetto.
The story goes that before he became Emperor of Austria and Hungary, during a visit to Sanguinetto, to check the borders of the Empire, he had a romantic relationship with a waitress, a certain Rosina.
At the end of this relationship, the prince gave Rosina a handkerchief with the Imperial crest.
When Franz Joseph later came to Verona as Emperor, Rosina came to the place where he was staying and presented the handkerchief. The Emperor, remembering their happy time together in Sanguinetto, gave Rosina a life-long pension.
The historical and religious heritage of the town of Sanguinetto is shown in the church and monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie. They were built in the early Seventeenth century by the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor, in this case more specifically referred to as “Zoccolanti”.
The monastery was closed in 1769, following a law passed by the Venetian senate in 1767 that tended to reduce the power of ecclesiastic orders.
The religious fervour of the population was shown, over the centuries, with the construction of other churches.
The parish church of 1460, with its three doors, its seven windows, seven chapels and seven altars.
The Oratory of Three Ways, also known as the Chiesetta della Rotonda, which was erected in 1747 to a design by Pompei.
There are many historical buildings in the town of Sanguinetto, and one that is definitely worth mentioning is Palazzo Betti.
Located next to the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, it was built by the Betti family in the second half of the Eighteenth century.
Inside, Giuseppe Betti, the head of the family and a Risorgimento patriot and artist, painted some frescoes.
According to Professor Remo Scola – an expert in monuments of the Bassa Veronese area – these frescoes are the most precious in the area.
Furniture and tobacco
The town economy is based mainly on two economic sectors: handmade and industrial production of artistic furniture, and the production and processing of tobacco leaves for cigarettes.
In the 1960s and 1970s, craftsmen began to produce copies of antique furniture on an industrial scale – mainly echoing Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-century Venetian furniture.
A flourishing industry was born. In addition to changing the economy of the territory from impoverished to wealthy and prosperous, it created one of the most important furniture production districts in Italy.
Production and processing of tobacco leaves began in the 1920s, when it was noticed that the local climate was highly suited to cultivation of Virginia Bright tobacco – the kind used to make cigarettes.
Some land owners introduced techniques already used in Tuscany and Umbria, obtaining excellent results in terms of quantity and quality – even better than the results obtained in those other regions.
It is definitely worth mentioning the figure of General Umberto Parodi. In the town of Concamarise, a street has been dedicated to him. After retiring from his military career with the highest rank of lieutenant general, he decided to begin a new entrepreneurial adventure, cultivating tobacco.
After bringing specialised personnel from Tuscany, he converted the land belonging to his family – first used under rental or tenant agreements – to the aforementioned crops.
He began the new business with a significant financial investment, revolutionising the agricultural sector of that time, bringing well-being and wealth not only to his own family, but to the entire territory.
Previously, the land owners did not even know where their land was, because they either rented it out or it was farmed by tenants, and they only had to collect the rent once a year.
After the General’s arrival, the farmer was transformed into an agricultural entrepreneur, agricultural smallholdings became agricultural businesses, and there was a significant effect on the territory in terms of wealth and employment.
Today, the Bassa Veronese is one of the most important locations in the world for the production of Virginia Bright tobacco. The quality of the tobacco grown here is among the best in the world.
Important international brands (Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco, etc.) come to the Bassa Veronese to buy our tobacco.
In Sanguinetto there is substantial cultural activity, including:
- The Zinetti international music award which is held in the month of September.
- The Castello national prize for children’s literature. The award ceremony is held in October.
Sanguinetto is located in a central position in the Veneto region, 33 km from Verona, 30 km from Mantua, and 50 km from Padua.
It is crossed by State road 10 Padana Inferiore, which connects Parma to Padua, and has a railway line that connects Mantua to Padua.
5 km from Sanguinetto there is a railway station in Nogara, which is an important railway junction for the Brennero line which provides a link to the heart of Europe.
Finally, I cannot forget to mention our views.
Flat and boundless to the south, crowned by mountains to the north, with the Euganei hills to the east which rise up on nice clear days, with the beautiful Verona to the west.
On sunny summer days, perhaps after a violent storm, the air is transparent and the colours shine, it is a joy to gaze at these four scenarios, and one never tires of moving from one to the other, almost obsessed by the desire to capture every detail.
In winter, sometimes, the fog masks the horizon, and all that is left to do is to cuddle up near the crackling fireplace and eat chestnuts and drink a nice glass of red wine in the company of friends.
In spring, everything bursts back to life. Nature – which until the day before seemed to be turned off, suddenly rears up, spreads its wings and, like a dragonfly coming out of the cocoon, dances in spiralling, inebriating pirouettes.
In autumn, everything peacefully declines, from the extreme summer days, we slowly but surely move towards the softer and darker winter days.