The careless traveller, well closed in his car, knows Rezzato because he stood on the queue, at the traffic lights on the bridge. And he never came in the village! Driving on the highway, the first (and fast) tourist contact is the fugitive look to the scenographic house of the family Avogadro, which became afterwards Villa Fenaroli. But this small town, really close to Brescia, really deserves a careful visit, at least to gain an insight into its importance in the past, and to learn that the distinguished men of our city considered it very important. We have to remember the great help given by the tajå-préde (stonecutters). Their creativity promoted the artistic way of working with marble.
Start off by visiting the building placed on the bridge, at the crossroad. It was a wonderful court, risen in the XV century. There was an inn, who hosted the travellers of the time. Do not mind the present ugliness of its architecture; try to imagine the galleries, held up by ancient pillars, and the kitchen, with its local tastes. Many noble families built their holiday houses in Rezzato: the Bettoni, the Chizzola and the Avogadro, who lived here since the fifteenth century; in 1581 the palace of Count Ottavio was demolished, and he was exiled because of his misdeeds. During the first half of the eighteenth century, the architect G. Battista Marchetti worked the building and created one of the most elaborated villas, exploiting the orographical situation. The garden was made precious with marble sculptures of Botticino, representing pagan godhood. The Fathers Scalabrini then removed the statues; they didn’t want their students to look at the indecorous nakedness.
The noble Giacomo Chizzola, after the withdrawal by politics, founded in his villa a school for the children of the rich families in Brescia, so that they could learn Latin. It is known that the mathematician Niccolò Tartaglia gave a lesson in Euclide and Chizzola teached rural economy.
An author tells that this academy “was maybe the most ancient agricultural academy in the world…”
While the nobles dedicated themselves to otium litterarium, the populace had many things to do. They cultivated the land and worked with the stones, an exacting job. This is the vocation of Rezzato: to cut the stone, square it and then sell it. No one else can work the stone as well as they work it. When people talk about Rezzato they tend to overlook Virle, that today is a hamlet. This is a huge mistake, Virle had its peculiarities: it had rich lands and was famous for the calchere (lime furnaces). Rezzato and Virle had diatribes, which lasted for centuries. Even when fascism wanted them to be a single town.
Working with the stone was the driving force for its economy. In Botticino, working opportunities were given by marble, whereas in Rezzato, the skilled labour cut and finished the raw material. Churches and parish youth centres are an example of those workers’ skills. Manufactures coming from workrooms in Rezzato were in hundreds of towns and in an endless number of churches. Even the walls of the most important public buildings are made of Virle’s lime.
During bad times, workers from Rezzato migrated in other quarters. In town, there was a school for stonecutters. Rodolfo Vantini, with his own money, started a laboratory to better the professionalism of the young men who wanted to work as a stonecutter.
The visitor cannot overlook other two typical places: the Madonna di Valverde Sanctuary and the Cappuccini Friary, on St. Pietro hill. On the 26th July, the believers walk in procession as far as the sanctuary, where they throw clothes in the pond, remembering the apparitions of the Saviour and the Madonna (1399).
Even if this event, magnified by popular devotion, can puzzle us, the wonderful landscape and the rest of the friary astonish us. The friary was founded in 1570 thanks to the contributions of Rezzato, Virle, Nuvolera, Botticino, Mazzano and Caionvico and it became a haven of peace, culture and charity towards needy people. You can find also a provided library.
Rezzato has been living thanks to stone, but it never neglected anything that could fill its citizen’s hearts and minds: faith and culture.