The history of Caxias do Sul starts before the arrival of the Italians, when the region was being roamed by cattlemen and occupied by Indians. Back then, the region was called "Indians' Field". The Italian immigrants' occupation, mostly farmers from the Veneto region (northern Italy), started taking place in 1875 in Nova Milano. Hence, they were in search of a better place to live. They also met people from Lombardy, Trento, and other places. Although they had gotten some governmental support, such as tools, supplies, and seeds, everything had to be reimbursed.
Two years later, the colonial headquarters of the Indians' Field was given the name Caxias Colony. The town was created on July 20, 1890 and acknowledged in the same year, on August 24. Many economic cycles marked the evolution of the city throughout that century. The first one is connected to the most peculiar aspect of its cultural identity: the growth of vines and the production of wine for own consumption at first, and later on, for commercialization.
On June 1, 1910, Caxias do Sul was elevated to the category of city. On the same day, the first train arrived connecting the region to the state capital. Although the immigrants were farmers, many of them used to perform other activities. They settled down, urbanized the region, and started a fast-paced process of industrialization.
In the countryside, subsistence agriculture concentrates on the cultivation of grapes, wheat, and corn. Home-based manufacturing started to emerge and the overproduction was commercialized. Home-based manufacturing and Caxias do Sul evolved from having small home-based workshops to today's big factories, which are known internationally.
Nowadays, Caxias do Sul is an important city, and due to its industrious colonists, is home to vast vineyards, wineries, a varied industrial park, and a rich and dynamic market. Those attributes grant the land great importance; for such reason Caxias do Sul is often called "Pearl of the Colonies", is considered the center of the Italian presence in Southern Brazil.
Today Caxias do Sul is one of the region's central hubs, hosting some of Brazil's most diverse economies besides its size; with its industrial parks, vast vineyards, wine commerce, cattle and plantation farms give the land a further dimension.
A Caxiense (Portuguese pronunciation: [kaʃiˈẽsi]) is a citizen of the city of Caxias do Sul. A possible anglicization of Caxiense would be Caxian. Caxiense is also the name of a bus line with headquarters in Caxias do Sul. Caxiense provides transport service with a fleet of coaches to cities in the Serra Gaúcha. Caxiense also offers a bus service from Caxias do Sul to Porto Alegre and the Porto Alegre Salgado Filho International Airport.
The following table shows the development of the number of inhabitants according to census data of IBGE.
The city is located in the mountains of the Serra Gaucha, 760 m (about 2000 feet) above sea level. Under the Köppen climate classification, Caxias do Sul features a subtropical highland climate or oceanic temperate climate. The average annual temperature is 16 °C (60.8 °F). In July, the coldest month, the average high temperature is 17 °C (62.6 °F) and the average low is 8 °C (46.4 °F); in January, the hottest, they're 26 °C (78.8 °F) and 16 °C (60.8 °F), respectively. Frosts are common in the winter and snow can occur, but it is less common. The last significant snowfall was recorded in August 2013, when 10–15 cm of snow fell over the city.
In Caxias do Sul, several small, medium, large and multinational companies were founded. The city is recognized as an Entrepreneurial-Exporting Hub in the country. Some of these companies are:Marcopolo (buses and truck frames, present in six countries)
Randon S.A. - Implementos e Participações is a mixed holding company, leader of a group of seven companies that employ a workforce of 6,6 thousand employees. They operate in the sectors of road equipment / railway wagons / specialty vehicles/ auto parts/ automotive systems, and services;
Agrale S/A which owns 4 industrial plants, being the only Brazilian company with 100% national capital making vehicles, tractors and diesel engines;
Tramontina silverware company based in Carlos Barbosa with plants throughout Brazil;
Grendene, a manufacturer of shoes based in neighboring Farroupilha;
Todeschini, a manufacturer of furniture based in nearby Bento Gonçalves, the wine capital of Brazil;
Hyco Hidrover, a manufacturer of hydraulic cylinders for mobile applications.
The per capita income in Caxias do Sul is one of the highest in Brazil according to IBGE.
Portuguese is the official national language, and thus the primary language taught in schools. Elderly people can often speak Talian, a regional language based on Venetian but also very much influenced by other Italian dialects and by Portuguese.Universidade de Caxias do Sul (UCS);
Faculdade da Serra Gaúcha (FSG);
Faculdade de Tecnologia (FTEC);
Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia do Rio Grande do Sul (IFRS)
Faculdade América Latina;
Faculdade dos Imigrantes;
and smaller HEIs
Culture in Caxias do Sul was not greatly favoured by the first Italian settlers, as they were mostly involved with survival concerns in an area until then unexplored. In the beginning of the 20th century, however, there was some cultural interest developing, and some sculptors, painters and decorators made a significant career in the city and around, like as Pietro Stangherlin, Francisco Meneguzzo and the Zambelli family. They left the first examples of artworks worth of mention, specially in sacred art and building decoration. Julio Calegari and Ulysses Geremia, both photographers, also deserve close attention for their huge collections of portraits and views of the old city.
As of historical architecture, one may find a few eclectic houses built for rich families, public buildings and Neo-Gothic churches, like as the Cathedral and the Chapel of Santo Sepulcro (Sacred Tomb). The first houses of the immigrants, made of stone, and later traditional wooden buildings, nearly all disappeared as the city developed, but some survive in the rural area, as well as many old chapels. Current laws protect every building older than 50 years, but many have been destroyed or altered, despite official protection.
The city nowadays has many intensely active museums and cultural centers, both private and official, and a great university which sponsors an art gallery, a museum, a huge library and a symphonic orchestra.
The city has many tourist attractions: museums, churches, culture, music and all types of leisure activities. Nature can be found in the city and the surroundings.
The city also hosts the popular National Grape and Wine Festival, which celebrates the Italian heritage. It's one of the most famous events in the country and it's called Festa da Uva, when lots of merrymaking, wine drinking, grapes and people animate the month of February, every two years (on even-numbered years). Visitors may eat cheese, grapes and various Brazilian wines. Visitors interested in the regions wine can also visit the Château Lacave Castle, a 6th Century-style medieval structure that currently functions as a winery. Caxias do Sul is also one of the four settlements along the beautiful Caminhos da Colônia scenic tourist route in the Serra Gaúcha.
Caxias do Sul is served by Hugo Cantergiani Airport, formerly called Campo dos Bugres Airport.
Caxias do Sul is home to the S.E.R. Caxias and Juventude soccer clubs. Even though both teams have in recent times claimed the Campeonato Gaúcho, Juventude has had greater luck at national level, making it into the first division of the Campeonato Brasileiro for over ten years and winning the 1999 edition of the Copa do Brasil, while Caxias has been playing in the third division since 2006. Juventude joins Caxias in the third division for the 2014 season. S.E.R. Caxias has the third biggest population of fans in the state, just behind the two major teams of the state capital city, Porto Alegre.
In the 2010 season, both teams played the Brazilian Third Division. S.E.R. Caxias didn't manage to go forward on the competition after the first group stage.Juventude was relegated and will be part of the Brazilian Fourth Division in 2011.