A Visit To An Italian Colony In The South: San Vito de Coto Brus
San Vito’s uniqueness comes from the confluence of it’s location within the foothills of the Talamancan Mountain Range and it’s cultural mix of aboriginal ancestry, Italian immigration and the local hispanic population.
Established in 1952 as part of the country’s efforts to ‘colonize’ far-off locations, San Vito was formed as an agricultural village granted to immigrants -mostly coming from Italy, in fact, San Vito is the only place in the country where Italian is mandatory throughout grade and high schools-. Don’t expect quite the strong italian influence, since the warm humid climate has had a strong influence in the development of the town.
Set in a prime location with lots of natural features just a short walk, or drive away, San Vito is an excellent location to rest, eat and organize part of your trip sown on the Costa Rican south. I only had a day to visit, so I chose some of the most worthy sites to visit. It turned out, these were quite cheap, which made them much more worthwhile to visit.
A. Aguas Calientes Natural Hot Springs
My first stop is a hidden treasure within the San Vito area. Aguas Calientes is a very small town just a drive off San Vito downtown. Driving down the main road between these two, you find the entrance to the Hot Springs. It’s funny how such a beautiful place can sit just beside the main road: a short walk away and you are in front of arguably, one of the most beautiful natural hot spring pool you can imagine. The cool, part it’s almost unknown, so you can actually get the entire pool to yourself.
I decided to stay for just one hour and then continued my trail, however if you feel like staying the whole day wading in the warm waters, there’s food options and accommodation in Agua Caliente town.
B. Abejas y Miel Farm
Further down the road from Agua Caliente -just a short 10 minute drive- a much smaller town sits on the road called Fila Tigre which boasts some magnificent views of the Mountains: trust me, at least it’s worth the stop to admire the view. It’s here where I’m in for my next stop: a visit to a locally run bee honey farm. However this is no ordinary bee farm, since these are indigenous stingless bees. The family who runs the farm have made it their mission to preserve the species and to create a commercial production of their honey -which tastes great, by the way-.
The farm also holds some trails that run through the forest which you can visit during your tour across the farm’s beehives. This place offers food and some accommodation if you decide to spend the night.
C. La Pintada Archaeological Site
My next stop takes me back to San Vito, where a very cool petroglyph can be found. However, the intriguing part is it’s location, to visit the petroglyph, you have to go inside a Franciscan monastery. Once inside the monastery, permission must be granted to visit the petroglyph located within the Monastery’s garden, not to worry, it’s quite common for tourists and enthusiasts to stop by. Since the stones are from pre-Hispanic times, their meaning is yet to be discovered.
D. Wilson Botanical Gardens
My last stop takes me to visit one of the most well-known attractions in the region. These botanical gardens are located just a 7-km drive away from San Vito center. The gardens are part of the larger site Las Cruces Research Station, which is a funded by the Organización de Estudios Tropicales. The gardens are quite nice, holding as many plant species one could find across these regions, however the trails through the forest are also quite a nice walk and there’s even an observation tower from where one can enjoy the view of the forest. The hike probably took me a couple of hours to complete, however bear in mind that the place closes at 5:00 p.m. sharp.