San Giorgio di Valpolicella
The inhabitants of Valpolicella rarely refer to San Giorgio with its official name: they prefer the nickname “Ingannapoltron”, which is “the deceiver of the lazy”. The reason is simple: from the valley, it seems that the village is quite close, but the road to get there is long and winding. Thanks to this high and difficult to reach position, already in the I millennium BCE the first settlements of the Arusnati tribe appeared here, to pass later under the control of Rome in the II-I century BC.
We suggest you stop on the terrace overlooking the whole Valpolicella. Looking at the green gardens in bloom around the houses, you will realize how strong the link between nature and man is here. Even the limestone with which the village was built is extracted from the very mountain on which it rests.
On the same square, there is the white-stone “Pieve”, a rural Romanesque church founded in the 7th-8th century and renovated in the 12th century. To visit it, go to the right of the church and enter the courtyard with a portico, whose capitals are decorated with bizarre animals and stylized plants.
In the church, you will find rows of columns with Roman capitals, frescoed with the effigies of saints. The most famous object here is a Longobard ciborium placed on the altar. Check out the fresco of the Last Supper, where a bearded Jesus is surrounded by disciples. Their postures are quite modern: one pours the wine into a glass from a jug, the other brings the wine to his lips, the third cuts the bread. On the table, there are fish dishes, slices of bread, glasses... the objects seem a little different from those you will find at dinner in a Garda fish restaurant!
We suggest you walk around Pieve because from behind you can enjoy a view of the opposite, but equally picturesque, side of the valley. Moreover, a couple of years ago in that area, surprisingly, traces of an Iron Age settlement were found. There were some fragments with letters, bones, and even the equipment for a small forge. In the 4th century, BCE two halls were dug out in the rock: in one there was a water tank and a workshop, in the other a bronze foundry. Here you will also find some traces of Roman times: a red marble sarcophagus, some broken columns. A unique stone mentioning the pagan goddess of fertility Loualda is embedded in the very wall of the church: can you find it?
To the left of the apse is the entrance to the Antiquarium, a free museum that preserves the most precious ancient and medieval finds and even some fossils. If it is open, don’t hesitate to visit it, it won’t take you too much time.