⠀Città di San Giovanni
Città di San Giovanni
Motto: Fare d’una mosca un elefante
Make an Elephant out of a Fly
1620 (As Fort Giovanni)
English: San Giovannian
UTC (GMT) -3
Mayor-Council w/Strong Mayor
Feliciano Simione (NUA)
Assembly of San Giovanni
The city was established in 1620 as Forte Giovanni by a Tuscan soldier named Giustiniano Santangelo, as a strategic move to expand the colonial control over the area, and disencourage settlement attempts by other colonial powers also interested in the region. It is currently known for its preserved eclectic European architecture and rich cultural life, often being described as a "vibrant, eclectic place with a thriving tech center and entrepreneurial culture".
As a city of colonial importance, strategically placed for the defense of the Tuscan possessions in South America, San Giovanni used to be a fortified city, staying that way until the end of the 18th century. The older part of San Giovanni, within the remnants of the city walls, is commonly referred to as the Old Town (Città Vecchia), being characterized by the antiquity of its various neighbourhoods which present a marked contrast to the newer areas of the city. While the Old City's street plan consists of narrow winding alleys connecting large plazas, newer areas of San Giovanni typically have wide avenues and more modern buildings. In addition, the city is dotted with numerous parks where palm trees flourish.
It is the hub of commerce and higher education in Montevento as well as its chief port, while also containing numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Santangelo Gallery and the Palazzo Bercetta, still exerting an influence in the fields of art and culture. Several reports on quality of life rated San Giovanni among the first places in Latin America. It is also regarded to be one of the most gay-friendly cities in word, and the first in South America.
The city is the seat of the administrative headquarters of most important Monteventani companies, such as Radiotelevisione Montevento, Montecom and Vento Compagnie Aeree. It regularly hosts several events of national and international importance regarding technology, education, arts and culture, in addition to parades, fairs of all kinds and many festivals. As the capital of Montevento, it also concentrates a great number of iconic government buildings, such as the Palazzo Legislativo (seat of the National Council), the Palazzo Veccio (official residence of the Doge), the Palazzo Ducale (seat of the executive power), the Palazzo Maggiolo (seat of the Ministry of Public Health) and the Palazzo Bertolotti.⠀
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The arrival of the first Italians to Monteventani lands happened in 1610 with the establishment of the first settlements along the Atlantic Coast, in what is today known as the province of Terra Nuova. The prosperity of the newly founded colony and the arrival of more and more settlers from the old world forced the colonial authorities in Montevento to seek to expand the territories controlled by the colony to the west, reason for which the construction of a small fort on the banks of the Rovasenda River (also known internationally as Coppename River) was commissioned to Field Marshal Giustiniano Santangelo, who finished the construction of Forte Giovanni in 1620.
Once the construction was complete, Santangelo started populating the city, initially with six families moving in from the then colonial capital of Thorntoria and soon thereafter by families arriving from the city of Florence. There was also one wealthy early Spanish resident by the name of Félix Cortés, supposedly nicknamed as "Il Ducce Spagnolo" who helped the young city with its initial development with his private wealth. In recognition of his contributions, it is very common to see streets, buildings and plazas named in his honour scattered across the city.
A census of the city's inhabitants was performed in 1622 and then a plan was drawn delineating the city and designating it as the Fedelissima e Coraggiosa Città di San Giovanni Battista, later shortened to San Giovanni. The census counted fifty families of Florentine origin, more than 1000 indigenous people, mostly Arawaks, as well as Black African slaves.
A few years after its foundation, San Giovanni became the main city of the region of the Guianas, competing with Nuova Firenze (which had also been founded around the same time as San Giovanni) for dominance in maritime commerce. The importance of San Giovanni as the main port of the colony brought it in confrontations with Nuova Firenze in various occasions, creating a rivalry that continues even to this day, although nowadays this rivalry has moved to more vain aspects such as football.
18th and 19th Century
In 1738 San Giovanni was chosen for the construction of a holiday home for the Grand Dukes of Tuscany by orders of Francesco II Stefano. The building received the name Palazzo Vecchio, and currently serves as the official residence of the Doge. The design of the building was in charge of the architect Vincenzo Sinatra, inspired by some French palaces of the seventeenth century, but it was completed only in 1762, being inhabited only by Pietro Leopoldo I for just one week in 1793 and by Lodovico II of Etruria in 1805.
The struggle between the two cities continued until 1777 when the province of Costa Grande was split in two with the creation of the Province of Fiume D'Oro at the west, with Nuova Firenze as its capital and San Giovanni remaining as the capital of Costa Grande, and eventually, the seat of the colonial government of the whole colony, based at the Villa Testasecca, which is still standing today and functioning as a public museum.
San Giovanni was occupied by the Spanish from 1807 to 1819 when Montevento declared independence and joined Gran Colombia. In 1831, the city became the capital of the newly created Republic of Montevento.
After the declaration of Monteventani independence, a period of growth and expansion started for the city. In 1853 a stagecoach bus line was established joining San Giovanni with nearby settlements and the first natural gas street lights were inaugurated. From 1854 to 1861 the first public sanitation facilities were constructed. In 1868, the horse-drawn tram company Gestione Servizio Tramviario (GEST) created the first lines in San Giovanni and in 1869, the first railway line of the company Operatore Ferroviario dello Stato (OFS) was inaugurated connecting San Giovanni with the town of Tivollo. Public water supply was established in 1871. The first telephone lines were installed in 1882 and electric street lights took the place of the gas operated ones in 1886.
A second construction boom, from 1935 to 1970, reshaped downtown and much of the city which started to occur in 1930 as the city began a rapid industrialization, through which Montevento began producing large quantities of products that were previously imported from Europe, resulting in a huge drop in unemployment in the city and a new economic momentum that maintained the San Giovannian economy in uninterrupted growth until 1990.
At present, the city of San Giovanni remains the main urban center of the country, becoming a modern and globalized city, while maintaining its culture and colonial architecture practically intact in many places, which makes the city a excellent place for tourists. Over the last few years, the city has also developed an intense nightlife, with numerous parties and events held every night, being the ideal place to attract young people looking to have fun.
In addition, like many other cities in Montevento, San Giovanni is committed to the environment, introducing multiple platforms for its care, such as recycling centers, the incorporation of bicycle paths, and the placement of garbage cans with the capacity to allow garbage sorting to facilitate recycling.
San Giovanni features a tropical rainforest climate (Af), under the Köppen climate classification, more subject to the Intertropical Convergence Zone than the trade winds and with no cyclone, therefore the climate is equatorial. The city has no true dry season; all 12 months of the year average more than 60 mm of rainfall, but the city does experience noticeably wetter and drier periods during the year. "Autumn" (September through November) is the driest period of the year in San Giovanni. Common to many cities with this climate, temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the course of the year, with average high temperatures of 31 degrees Celsius and average low temperatures of 22 degrees Celsius. San Giovanni on average receives roughly 2200 mm of rainfall each year.
Two-thirds of the city's residents live in apartment buildings and 30% in single-family homes; 2% live in sub-standard housing. Measured in terms of income, the city's poverty rate was 4.4% in 2018. The city's resident labor force of 300.000 in 2018 was mostly employed in the services sector, particularly social services (25%), commerce and tourism (20%) and business and financial services (17%); despite the city's role as Montevento's capital, public administration employed only 6%. Manufacturing employed 10%.
The city has received throughout the 20th century a large number of European immigrants of various nationalities, which has given the city widely diverse characteristics. The last wave of immigrants appeared between 1945 and 1955, receiving mainly Italians and Spaniards.
For the tenth consecutive year, in 2018 the number of people who came from other countries to reside in San Giovanni exceeded the number of San Giovannian people who emigrated. And, according to data from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, between 2016 and 2018 the number of residences for foreigners multiplied by four compared to the previous two years. The historical migration that occurs across the border from Venezuela and Brazil has been joined by a large flow of migrants of Latin American origin from non-border countries such. 64% of all recent immigrants from non-border countries of the country lives in San Giovanni.
The City of San Giovanni has a Secretariat for Ethnic Racial Equity and Migrant Populations that is responsible for highlighting the diversity of Afro-descendant, native and migrant cultures in San Giovanni, as well as offering help to these people in case of facing discrimination situations. Since 2005, this secretariat is also in charge of the protection of the LGBT community, being under its authority the organization of events such as the March for Diversity and other festivals that recognize different cultures and people within the city.
The Government of San Giovanni is presided by a Mayor, who is democratically elected during the Provincial Elections for a four-year term. The current Mayor of San Giovanni is Feliciano Simione, from the left-wing party Nuova Unione Alternativa, which has been governing San Giovanni for the past 30 years. The elected mayor is given almost total administrative authority and a clear, wide range of political independence, with the power to appoint and dismiss city officials without needing the approval of the Assembly or any public input.
The role of mayor has existed in San Giovanni since 1958, with the first mayor being Ivano Raffaele (1958 - 1962). A full list of the mayors of San Giovanni can be seen below:
1.- Ivano Raffaele (1958 - 1962) 1 term in office - Partito Rosso
2.- Apollo Ciccolella (1962 - 1974) 3 terms in office - Partito Rosso
3.- Paola Varisco (1974 - 1982) 2 terms in office - Partito Nazionale
4.- Edmondo Martella (1982 - 1990) 2 terms in office - Partito Rosso
5.- Gianpiero Levatino (1990 - 2002) 3 terms in office - Nuova Unione Alternativa
6.- Manuela Zucco (2002 - 2006) 1 term in office - Nuova Unione Alternativa
7.- Patrizio Marcucci (2006 - 2010) 1 term in office - Nuova Unione Alternativa
8.- Lorena Scelza (2010 - 2014) 1 term in office - Nuova Unione Alternativa
9.- Feliciano Simione (2014 - Incumbent) 2 terms in office - Nuova Unione Alternativa
The Assembly of San Giovanni
Another body, the Assembly of San Giovanni, or also known as the Congress of San Giovanni, governs together with the Mayor. The Assembly, composed of 5 unsalaried elected members, is responsible for such things as the freedom of the citizens, the regulation of cultural activities, the naming of streets and public places, and the placement of monuments; it also responds, approves or rejects proposals of the Mayor in various circumstances.
San Giovanni is divided in a total of 32 neighbourhoods, many of which, such as Trevizara, Piceranto and Chiezia, were previously geographically separate settlements, later absorbed by the growth of the city. Others grew up around certain industrial sites, including the salt-curing works of Maribugal and the tanneries in Messirletta. Each neighbourhood has its own identity, geographic location and socio-cultural activities. A neighbourhood of great significance is Città Vecchia, that was surrounded by a protective wall until 1799. This area contains most important buildings of the colonial era and early decades of independence.
9. Félix Cortés
25. San Filippo
26. Santa María
6. Città Vecchia
32. Villa Nuova
San Giovanni's architecture is characterized by its eclectic nature, with elements resembling many european cities. There is a mix, due to immigration, of Colonial, Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Neo-Gothic styles. Italian influences persisted after the declaration of independence at the beginning of the 19th century, though the academic style continued until the first decades of the 20th century while also incorporating heavy French influence.
The layout of the city is very regular. The historical and financial center of the city has perfectly square blocks, stretching from north to south and from east to west, which then extend into the other neighborhoods of the city. A characteristic of the city is the diversity of trees and the colors of their flowers, in addition to the great presence of palm trees. To a large extent, this is the result of the work of Battista Antinori, an Italian landscaper, creator, among other things, of the Botanical Garden of San Giovanni, who planted trees following the criteria of the geometric and picturesque variants that the french had adopted for green spaces since the seventeenth century.
San Giovanni has over 250 parks and green spaces, the largest concentration of which are on the city's eastern side in the neighborhoods of Monterosso, Trevizara, Félix Cortés and Scalfetta. Some of the most important are:
The Piazza Maggiore is one of the biggest and oldest plazas in San Giovanni, as well as its most important one. In the center of the square is a sculpture of Robert Thornton, the traveler who was in charge of making the first Italian expeditions to the Monteventani territories, while in the square's surroundings there several significant monuments and points of interest, like San Giovanni's Town Hall and the Central Bank's headquarters, as well as San Giovanni's Central Cathedral, which is now a Monteventani history museum.
The Piazza Maggiore is also one of the political centres of the city and the whole nation, with political rallies commonly held on it, as well as protests, festivals and protocol events. This is also where the Doges of the Republic usually held their inaugural speach after being sworn in.
Piazza della Bandiera
The square is characterized by the presence of a huge mast in its center, which has a gigantic flag of Montevento, of just over 300 square meters and 38kgs in weight. In addition, the square has several statues and recognitions to various important personalities of Montevento, as well as a small space for outdoor sports and children's games.
Year after year, the Piazza della Bandiera is one of the many places in the country where multiple events are held linked to the independence of Montevento, celebrating the very prestigious ceremony of the "Oath of the Flag". During this ceremony, a symbolic oath of allegiance (which has no legal validity) is taken to the best primary education students of Montevento in recognition of their work, being one of the greatest distinctions that can be given to a citizen of Montevento.
San Giovanni Botanical Garden
It is a botanical garden located in the Trevizara neighborhood. The garden, which was declared a national monument in 1976, has a total area of 13.25 ha (0.1325 km²), and holds approximately 5.500 species of plants, trees and shrubs, as well as a number of sculptures, monuments and five greenhouses. It was designed by Italian architect and landscape designer Battista Antinori, the garden was inaugurated on September 7, 1898. Antinori and his family lived in an English style mansion, located within the gardens, between 1892 and 1898, when he served as director of parks and walks in the city. The mansion, built in 1881, is currently the main building of the complex, functioning as a museum about the hisotry of the Botanical Garden.
It functions as a center for information and training on botany, as well as a center for scientific activities. Promotes the knowledge and appreciation of native plants of Montevento and other regions of the world. It is a permanent reference in botanical issues and management of green areas in public spaces throughout the country, as well as in the conservation of natural ecosystems and their native plants. Its Herbarium is the object of frequent visits by foreign researchers.
It is a completely public space and is free for both citizens and tourists.
Simeone Cerreta Theatre
It is a stadium in the Villa Nuova neighbourhood used mostly for association football matches and also sometimes for athletics. It is currently the biggest and most important stadium of the country. It was built in 1913, but was renovated and expanded multiple times over the years, its most recent remodeling being carried out in 2007, when a shopping center was added and its capacity expanded to 60,000.
Most football teams in Montevento have their own stadiums but they usually prefer playing in this stadium for its size and comfort, especially when playing important games that attract big crowds. Generally, this stadium is used for San Giovanni F.C's matches. The Montevento national football team home matches are also played here.
The Tricentennial Stadium is also the center of a 40 hectares park and sports complex that includes the Luisa Cala Field Hockey Stadium, opened in 2012, an Olympic-size swimming pool, opened in 2014; an auxiliar field, located north of the main stadium, that hosts training and smaller football and rugby events; a BMX circuit, a running track, and basketball, volleyball and tennis facilities.
Simeone Cerreta Theatre
It is located in the Piazza Maggiore, facing San Giovanni's Town Hall and adjacent to the Central Bank's headquarters. Construction of the theatre began in 1884, following plans by the Spanish architect Sergio Genz. It was based on the foundation of the previous Gran Teatro di San Giovanni, a wooden building built in 1871, but which had burned in 1881. In 1886 the city government took over direction of the project, which proceeded only intermittently due to lack of funds. The theatre was completed in 1905. The theatre was known as the "Gran Teatro" until 1926 when it was renamed in honour of the Monteventani composer Simeone Cerreta.
Currently it remains one of the most prestigious theatres in the country, being the scene of numerous plays, concerts and other events. It has a capacity of 1.500 people.
The Montecom Arena is a multipurpose indoor arena that is located in the neighbourhood of Félix Cortés. The arena has a capacity of 25.000 people for concerts, and 20.000 people for basketball games. The arena is owned by Montecom, Montevento's telecommunications company after they reached an agreement with the city of San Giovanni, which granted them the rights to the arena for 30 years. Construction on Montecom Arena began in May of 2012, and the arena opened on November 12, 2016.
In the Arena the main musical events of the country are usually organized, such as concerts by internationally renowned artists with a long history in Montevento, as well as competitions and festivals, such as some editions of the Monteventani Music Festival. It is considered one of the most modern arenas in the country and in Latin America, due to the incorporation of multiple technological systems to improve the quality of sound and lighting within it, in order to offer a unique experience to the viewer.
View of the Palazzo Ducale from the Salandrella River
The Palazzo Ducale (English: Ducal Palace) is the seat of the Executive Power, and where most of the offices of the Dogeship of the Republic are located in, including the main office of the Doge. It is also where the Office of Planning and Budget and the National Office of Civil Service are placed. Other dependencies of the Dogeship of the Republic, like the National Road Safety Unit and the Department of Public Information, are also located inside the palace.
The Palazzo is located in the Città Vecchia neighbourhood at the shores of the small Salandrella River, which flows towards the Rovasenda River. Inspired by the Versailles Palace in France, the Ducal Palace was built in the early 18th century by Francesco Fiori, the then governor of the colony of Montevento, to cover the remains of the ruins of the Fortress Mazzeo, which was destroyed by a fire in 1693. It became the seat of the Executive power in 1833 by orders of the first Doge of the independent Montevento, Aronne Bertolotti.
With a total of 3 floors and over 400 halls, courts and courtyards, it is one of the biggest palaces in all of Montevento, and also one of the most luxurious, with marble floors, stunning ceiling frescoes, imported French, Italian and Austrian furniture, and artwork made by several Italian and Monteventani artists. The huge palace gardens, which have been open to everyone since 1870, are a favourite among visitors and locals alike, with fountains, fences and old exotic trees brought from all over the world.
The palace also has four towers, each with a viewpoint in its upper area, from which it is posible to see the landscape of the gardens and the surroundings, although they are generally closed to the public, opening only on special dates such as Independence Day. One of the towers has a clock, which has become a symbol of the palace and the city of San Giovanni, and even of the Dogeship itself.
The palace is also usually the venue for several art exhibitions and highly prestigious cultural events, especially in its gardens, in which a "treasure hunt" is held annually every August 8 (Children's Day), where toys, bags with candies and other objects are hidden for the children of the city to look for them, and keep them as gifts.
As the seat of the Monteventani Government, all foreign embassies are located in San Giovanni, the vast majority of which are located on the Via Santa María, a street near the main building of the Executive Branch and also the Palazzo Legislativo. On the avenue there are also numerous ambassadors' residences. In total, there are 6 embassies belonging to member countries of the UFN in Via Santa María, and 32 belonging to other states.
The monumental setting of the Vía Santa María has favored the erection of many memorials and statues. They are erected either on private grounds, many of them by the embassies to showcase a prominent national figure, or on public land
Twin Towns and Sister Cities
San Giovanni has the following sister cities and twin towns:
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