The name Valpolicella is derived from "Polesel Val" a term from 1177, when the city of Verona had already merged into one from the ancient "Vallis Veriacus "and "Vallis Provinianensis”. The name, as well as "Polesine"or "Polesella", means "marshy, boggy" and refers to the alluvial soil.
The evidence of human presence in Valpolicella is ancient; it is a land in a strategic location, halfway between the Alps and the Po valley and bordered by the river Adige, a key transit and trade route. The first tracks were left by nomadic hunters of the lower Paleolithic close to the Ponte di Veja and the Grotto of Fumane, named the "shaman", a stunning example of rock art in red ochre dating back some 36,000 years.
Even before Roman colonization, in the first century BC with the creation of "municipium in Verona", Valpolicella had a definable ethnic identity, though also rich in Etruscan-Celtic and Venetian influences. The Romans respected this by granting autonomy, at least in the religious sphere. The Romans also developed the cultivation of grapes and quarrying.
It’s not until 1311 that the Valpolicella area becomes an entity in itself, when Federico della Scala gains a fiefdom from the Emperor Henry VII creating the County of Valpolicella.
Since 1405 Valpolicella came under Venetian rule under the Scaligeri family, who had the right to elect religious leaders, from among the members of the most important Veronese families that had interests in the area. With the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 and the subsequent loss of Venetian power, Valpolicella also saw the affirmation of large landholdings and the spread of a new economy and culture, with the villa as its symbol.
In 1797 Napoleon decreed the end of the Venetian Republic and Valpolicella lost its ancient privileges, becoming one of the ten districts within the territory of Verona. During subsequent Austrian domination the focus on the villa ended as nobles and wealthy merchants shifted the focus of their interests to the city amongst competition from foreign agricultural products, and together with diseases affecting vineyards and silk farms, traditional agriculture met its downfall.
At the beginning of the twentieth century the first agricultural associations were formed, cooperatives of farmers and wineries, but the Second World War marked an abrupt halt to development of productive activities in the Valley. Massive emigration in the postwar period led to the current economic structure and set the scene for future developments in the quarrying and wine.