About San Vito Costa Rica

vito-sansonetti1In 1938, a young Frigate Captain of the Italian Navy, Vito Sansonetti, arrived in Panama. There he met a Costa Rican Belle Olivia Tinoco and romance ensued. This love affair was to withstand a World War II distance, different cultures and languages. They did not see each other for seven years until they met again in Paris where the decided to marry and return to Costa Rica, she to her family and he to see her land. Once here, Vito developed another love at first site. The tropical lusciousness of Costa Rica captivated his romantic mind with dreams of a place to resettle some of the many Italian Contadini who needed to find some future after the devastating war that was just over. The Sansonettis founded the Societa Italiana de Colonisazione Agricola, SICA, to relocate those people in new lands and perhaps, a new future.
The first groups of immigrants initially tried the area of Moravia de Chirripo, in an extensive farm bought from Fernando Alvarado, in close proximity to the Cabecar Indigenous Reservation of Chirripo but the inclement weather prevented its development. Conveniently, the government of Costa Rica was developing plans to populate the Southern region for the country and thus reinstate its soveriengty in a area that, being so far from the capital and so isolated, was more Panamanian than Costa Rican. Thus, by law #1316, President Otilo Ulate Blanco and his Minister of Agriculture, Claudio Volo, assigned 10,000 Hectares, 24,700 Acres of National Forests to the establishment of an Italian agricultural colony. This was the site where the town of San Vito and surroundings now are.

Thus, the 28th of February 1952 these intrepid Italians felled the first tree for their nascent village. In some ten weeks they had opened enough space for a landing strip, some muddy trails and the beginnings of their housing. The place was better known at that time as La Colonia, later being changed to San Vito.

Today, the town is paved, electrified, and thriving. Italian is seldom heard on the streets anymore but is spoken in the homes of those settlers who remain in the area and is still taught in local schools as part of their local heritage.

Written by Luis Diego Gomez 2002