Itu was founded in 1610 by the bandeirante Domingos Fernandes. The settlement grew slowly until 1777, when Itu became a major trading outpost for sugarcane and slaves. In 1842, Itu gained city rights and it was the richest city of the São Paulo state.
In 1873, Itu hosted the first Republican Convention in Brazil, which would ultimately lead to the country becoming a Republic in 1889. After established, the Republican government helped bringing Italian immigrants to work in Itu's coffee farms, with coffee quickly becoming the basis of the city economy.
After the Great Depression of 1929, Itu stagnated economically as most of the state of São Paulo. Industrialization started in 1950, and got a large boost in 1970 when the Castelo Branco motorway reached the city.
Nowadays Itu is a prosperous medium-sized city, highly attractive for industry, and is expecting to gain a large FoxConn factory by the end of 2013. Beginning from 1967, a local comedian called Francisco Flaviano de Almeida, nickname Simplício, gained national prominence by making jokes about the exaggerated size of all sorts of things in Itu. What started as a joke was seen as an opportunity for tourism, with oversized objects becoming a symbol and local souvenir of Itu.
By carItu is 1 hour from São Paulo, and 20 minutes from the International Airport of Viracopos, in Campinas.
Praça Padre Migueladdress: CentroItu's most famous square contains the city's mother church, a nice collection of 19th century houses, and some oversized objects that honor the reputation of the city.
Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora da Candeláriaphone: +55 11 4023-0638Itu's mother church was constructed in 1780, afterwards subject to various reforms, in the hands of renowned architects such as Ramos Azevedo and Paula Souza. Its interior contains paintings of José Patrício da Silva, Father Jesuíno do Monte Carmelo and Almeida Júnior.
Giant phone boothOne of the most photographed sights of Itu, it is a 7-meter high phone booth constructed by the now extinct company Telesp. It is now painted in purple colors and owned by VIVO.
Igreja do Senhor Bom Jesus e Santuário
Parque do Varvitophone: +55 11 4022-2181address: Estrada Municipal do Jacu, Parque Nossa Senhora da CandeláriaA state heritage site, the geological park, open to visit, contains rock formations that are at least 270 million years old.
Praça dos Exagerosaddress: Between R. Alfredo Barbi and R. José Maria dos Passos, Vila Padre BentoA large square containing several oversized objects, including giant insects, pencils, chess pieces and an ATM. However, the real must-see is the giant statue of Simplício, the comedian who made Itu nationwide famous, sitting in a bench as he did in the TV show A Praça é Nossa.
- Feeding animals
- Horseback riding
- Old-fashioned agriculture demonstrations
- Antiques stores
- Farm goodies