Itu, Brazil

Living in Itu

Iyna Bort Caruso

The municipality of Itu, Brazil, is known as the Cradle of the Republic for its role as host of an 1873 convention from which the modern Republican party emerged, but these days it’s equally known by a more whimsical nickname, the Capital of Large Things.

Credit the late Brazilian comedian, Francisco Flaviano de Almeida, for a running joke that touted Itu’s alleged larger-than-life attractions. The city adopted the gag as its identity. Big is in. Some of Itu’s most photographed sites are a giant phone booth, an oversized streetlight and a mammoth artificial Christmas tree.

Itu is located in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest and wealthiest, about 50 miles northwest of the city of Sao Paulo. From Itu, Vircopos International Airport is about a 20-minute ride away.

The city’s colonial heritage can be seen in its plazas and churches. Among its many parks is Varvito Park, located in an old quarry of geological treasures. Some of the quarried stones were used to pave Itu’s streets, squares and sidewalks. For the active set, Maeda Park is a popular entertainment complex featuring horseback riding, boating and sport fishing. It also hosts one of the largest Japanese gardens in Brazil. Within an hour of Itu are wineries, fruit farms, coffee plantations and historic monasteries.

The city dates back centuries. Itu was settled by the Portuguese in 1610. It would go on to generate great wealth as a commercial hub for sugarcane production in the 18th century.

Itu offers villas, country homes, which are especially popular with Sao Paulo residents as weekend retreats, as well as estates in private developments. The most desirable residential communities feature such amenities as equestrian facilities, golf, tennis and helipad.