A tour of the churches in Valpolicella


Starting from Fumane, inhabitated since prehistoric times as shown by the archaeological sites of Grotta di Fumane discovered in 1964 by Giovanni Solinas. An accumulation of more than 10 meter of sediment has yield flint tools, ornaments and many other prehistorical instruments. Substantially, the discoveries made in the cave of Fumane show the progressive and rapid development from Neanderthal (Middle Paleolithic) to Sapiens Sapiens (Late Paleolithic), a unique testimonial of this kind. Exceptional are also the cave paintings in red ochre found on fragments of rock fallen from the roof of the cavern, dating from about 35.000 years ago, the most ancient in Europe. The cavern, situated along the road leading to Molina, is open to the public.

In Roman times, Fumane was one of the most important centres of the "Pagus Arusnatium", a district of Valpolicella inhabitated by a very ancient local tribe with its own independent government.


The visit of the village starts with the Santuario della Madonna delle Salette, surrounded by the cypresses on a hill, built in 1860, a period in which grape downy mildew had attacked the vines several times, damaging the country's most preciuos gift. The inhabitants vowed to build the sanctuary in honour of the Madonna who appeared in La Salette (France), invoking her protection for the vineyards of Fumane and of the valley. The construction of this building took place with the cooperation of all the people of Fumane who built the sanctuary on the hill Incisa, which can be reached by car or through a path in the pinewood. The view is breathtaking.


Along the road to Mazzurega, you can see Villa Della Torre, a construction built in harmony with the surrounding countryside. This villa is an original example of Venetian Renaissance architecture, among the finest in the province of Verona. Towards the middle of the XVI century the villa was centre of Veronese culture and wordly life, hosting illustrious persons such as Michele Sanmicheli who perhaps designed the villa. Later abandoned and plundered of most of its decorations, it regained prestige in the hands of Girolamo Cazzola who started some capillary works of restoration, continued by his descendants. Villa Della Torre is now open to visitors who can see the park, the chapel and the halls what preserve perhaps its most important architecural elements such as the impressive majestic fireplaces in the four rooms on the round floor, sculptured in terrirfying masks representing mythological figures.

Descending the Fumane valley to San Floriano, in San Pietro in Cariano, you can visit a precious Romanic parish church, officially dating from the XII century, although some documents state its existence in the year 950 a.C. Its imposing tufa façade has remained practically unchanged throughout the centuries with its hanging prothyrum and the adjacent bell tower built in tufa and brick following the Veronese style of those times: only the two side windows and the centre rose were opened later. Its three naves are divided by alternated columns and pillars: restoration works over the years have unfortunately altered the original Romantic appearance of the church which, however, still conserves extraordinary works of art such as the XV-century wood sculpture figuring the "Madonna in adorazione del Figlio" (Madonna in adoration of her Son), the XVI-century painting of the "Madonna del Rosario", the baptism font carved from a single block of red marble, and remains of frescos on inside and outside walls. The church is usually open, entering from the side door.


Now we go up another Valpolicella valley, that of Marano, where we soon encounter Valgatara; about 100 meters after the road sign indicating entry to the town, Via Pozzo, to the left, takes you to the village of the same name where you can find the XIII-century country church of San Marco al Pozzo. The building has a simple façade in local Prun stone and an impressive bell tower, both of Romanic origin and resisting the raising works done in later centuries. The single nave still resplends with XIV-century frescos.


Un through the rolling hills we continue towards Marano di Valpolicella, alocality dominated by the rounded tips of Monte Castelon, named in many historical documents. Here a castelliere (Bronze Age settlement) has been discoverd, while a Roman temple dedicated to Minerva was

destroyed n the Middle Ages to make plce for a asmall sanctuary dedicated to Virgin Mary. The site of theis ancuienty worship place was omre or less where now the XV-century church of Santa MAria Valverde rises, enlarged considerably in 1682 to accomodate the growing number of worshipper.

From San Rocco, you can reach Santa Maria Valverde where you can admire the panorama of the Valpolicella hills covered with vineyards as far as Lessinia, Lake Garda and the city of Verona itself. You can leave your car in the main square of the town and walk to the church, following the signs. Coming back you can choose the path up towards the cemetery then descend again towards the square.


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