Coto Brus: San Vito and Sabalito among others are progressive cities

Coto Brus

 The politic division - administrative of Costa Rica is defined in provinces as: San José, Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Guanacaste, Puntarenas and Limón. Those at the same time are subdivided in cantons and districts.
  Administratively, the province of Puntarenas has these cantones: Puntarenas, Esparza, Buenos Aires, Montes de Oro, Osa, Aguirre, Golfito, Coto Brus, Parrita, Corredores y Garabito.

Coto Brus

It´s the 8th canton of the province of Puntarenas. This canton is created by the law number 3598 of december 10th, 1965, under the Francisco Orlich Bolmarcich administration.
Surface: 935.52 km2.
The head town of this canton is San Vito.
It´s located at  378   kilometers from the capital on the road to Ciudad Neilly and 252 kilometers for Paso Real (Térraba river) San Vito.
Coto Brus, has five districts: San Vito, Sabalito, Agua Buena, Limoncito, Pittier.  
Main characteristics:
  This canton is located in the hillside of  the Talamanca mountain chain. It´s formed by small valleys and high plateaus. It has a stable weather during the whole year where that is predominantly rainy. The temperatures are between 22 and 26 degrees centigrade.
At the southeast is located the Coto Brus indigenous community, from the Guaymi ethnic group, which covers 3% of the region.
The main agropecuarian activities are determined by the cultivation of sugar cane, coffee, corn and bean, and cattle farming.
 Eduardo Chinchilla assures that at the north of the canton is located the national park of the Talamanca mountain chain and at the south west of this park is located "Las tablas" protected zone which constitute a 9% and 21 % of the Coto Brus territory. At the same time, there is in Coto Brus a protected line of two kilometers of wide, parallel to the international limit with the Panama Republic, which constitute 19% of the territory in this canton.
Maximum Heights

1060 meters Agua Buena
1009 meters San Vito
900 meters Sabalito


The traveler will find several hotels in San Vito, and several options on where to eat, such as cafeterias or restaurants, I recommend visiting one of the pizza places in the area, because they are one of the best by tradition, due to the Italian influence.

In the area are various touristic options from which the traveler can take advantage, such as " El Jardín Botánico Wilson " from which you will find plenty of information in the Activities section.

But also near San Vito we can find thermal spring, a place with not much touristic exploration, but with a great natural beauty, where you can relax in the thermal spring at the bank of the river, surrounded by threes, birds and lots of vegetation.

You can find more information in the document "spring waters" in the activities section.


Nowadays, the Coto Brus population are devoted mainly to agro related duties, mainly to the cultivation of coffee.
Other products that are planted in the area are: corn crop, rice crop, beans, sugar cane and vegetables.
In San Vito is been developed an active commercial center that provides supplies for the residents of Coto Brus.


In Coto Brus you can find any kind of service that you need. There are branches of the Banco de Costa Rica, Banco Nacional, INS, a hospital, a cooperative, ICE office, AYA office, etc.
  All kinds of shops and trades, such as gasoline stations, stores, hardware store, electrical appliances store, restaurants, hotels, cabins, supermarkets, bakery stores, drug stores, etc.
Regarding services, it is also possible to find lawyers, topographers, doctors, dentists, firefighters, etc.

Driving times and distances

Distance from San Jose to San Vito: 270.9 kilometers respectively 168.2 miles.
Travel time from San Jose to San Vito: 5.56 hours.
Distance from Liberia to San Vito: 440.7 kilometers respectively 273.7 miles.
Travel time from Liberia to San Vito: 7.58 hours. 


During the pre-Columbian period, the territory of this canton was inhabit by the Bruncas indigenous population that had dominated Coto Brus. Investigator Eduardo Azofeifa assures that the toponime of the canton comes from the name of an indigenous province, from a river and an indigenous leader.

This territory, called by the Spanish conquerors the province of Couto”, that was located at the south of Quepos, and the word Brus or Brusi was the name of a beautiful valley, as figures in the Railway Commission Reports of Washington.

Coto Brus, according to other versions is the name of a indigenous chief. On the other hand, Mr Carlos Gagini assures that Coto o Couto is the name of a river and an ancient and numerous indigenous town. 

In 1571, the Coto Brus territory was discovered by Perafán de Rivera, who was exploring the southwest part of Costa Rica, and the Caribbean shore.  At the beginning of the XX century, two of the first habitants of the area of Cañas Gordas was Maximiliano Peralta and Pedro Rodríguez Rebolledo.

After 1921, there was a war conflict with Panama, the area is opened to the migratory process with the purpose of exploring their natural resources. The process of inhabitation Coto Brus was helped by the construction of the Interamerican highway in 1940, because this road will go through the Coto Brus valley. Eduardo Chinchilla remarks that in 1940, a lot of people emigrated to this region due to the international limits deal subscribed in 1944, between the Costa Rica and Panama governments. Because citizens from both countries emigrated to the area who's habitants could only do, at the beginning, survival farming, due to the lack of means of communication. 

The coffee plantation started in 1949, becoming the main agricultural product of the area. In 1951 an agreement was made between the Italian society of agricultural colonization and the government of Costa Rica to colonize the area.

This coming article clarifies this process.

Sailor in this land

The life of the founder of San Vito de Java can be described as a love story. About those brave men who went exploring the mountains all over the national geography, about their fight to take away space for agriculture from the jungle, a hundred of histories can be tell, but no one can be as romantic and unheard like the ones of commander Vito Sansonetti. 

The history of don Vito is, fundamentally, a history of love, well loves. He was a sea lover who learned to love the land; he was in loved of his country, and he was patriot of two counties. Don Vito was a soldier,  a sailor, a  businessman, an agriculture and philanthropist; a fighter and a romantic who was always devote to hi two big loves in life: Olivia Tinoco and the community of San Vito de Java. 

He was born in Rome in 1916. As an admiral son, his biggest goal was live crossing the seas and with only 22 years he boarded the cruise Duque d'Aosta, which, after a brief participation in the Spanish civil war, crossed the pacific to get to Balboa, in Panama. 

He was in a dance, organized to honor the italian marines, where the young soldier met the costarrican girl Olivia Tinoco. She was invited by her aunt, Alicia Castro president's, Belisario Porras wife- to spend some time in Panama. He fell in love at first sight. The ship sailed next day heading north, Olivia stayed in Costa Rica.  World War II had began and the sailors had to go back to Italia.They wrote each other for seven years and in the end got married even though they never saw each other during that time.

His son Luigi says: "My dad was fascinated by a tica and when he came to the country he was fascinated by it's nature too."

  Greate project

  As the World War II came to the end, the Italian navy was now very small, and as he was married to a Costarrican, Don Vito decided to drop out his career and raise a family in his wife's land. An unusual project of colonization arises then: to populate with Italian immigrants the territory of Coto Brus, to the South of our country, that then was practically virgin forest. And the most unusual aspect of the project is that it was successful.  After years of fights and miracles, among the ones that is emphasized the to have built a landing strip, in the middle of the forest, for the purpose of transporting building materials by air.

Today San Vito of Java is a productive and prosperous community. The major pride of Mr. Vito, according to the account of their son, Luigi, is that in the long fight by founding and to develop San Vito, the Italian colonists and Costarican worked with earnestness from sun to sun and they saw rewarded their efforts, years later, with magnificent economic results in their businesses.

The friendly character of the Italians influences, positively, in his relation with the ticos.  Today, almost 50 years after the foundation, there are scores of marriages between ticos and Italians. Besides, Mr. Vito sees with satisfaction the delivery of 10.000 hectares on the part of the Government, since he delivered 3 000 they are judged Italians, and the seven thousand remainders, to costarican colonists. Don Vito's creative and tenacious spirit leaded him to found agricultural and commercial companies, as well as cultural and charity institutions. His adventurous and enterprising spirit didn't know to quit in front of obstacles, he always overcome thanks to his fighting spirit.

The last fight

Don Vito's last fight was against leukemia, that took two years to defeat him. According to his will, his remains will rest in the San Vito's Cemetery, under the shade of four trees, that in life, he wanted never to be cut.

Over his grave, built by himself, and on which, ten years before, rest his wife, Don Vito sent to put an anchor. In the grave is going to be a headstone, in wich you could read only " Vito Sansonetti. Marinaio d'Italia".

Vocation of work

As an active businessman, enterprising, disciplined and firmly believing in the ethical values of the individuals, Vito Sansonetti is empathize during all his life. "It had a great sensibility for the development of the agricultural economy", Franco Micieli of Viasesaid, ambassador of Italy in Costa Rica of whom thought that that was one of biggest reached by the forjadores of San Vito after the development of the zone.

Sansonetti contributes with the agrarian modernization through its business Saturnia S. A., which founds on 1961.  As it expressed Luigi Sansonetti, that company was dedicated to import Italian agricultural machinery.The machines were original because they were of double traction; that is to say, apt for the zones fractions of the country.

Besides, the Commander was an associate founder and first president of the Camera of Industry and  Italian-costa rican Commerce.Always showed interest in promoting and strenghten cultural relations between costarricans and italians.

Precided for 10 years of the Cultural Asosiation Dante Alighieri. In 1984 founded the Italian costarrican Cultural Center Dante Alighieri in San Vito and, besides created a scholarship program with the purpose of sending the center`s best students to Italy. Another deed that also registrates his name as maximum representative is the Encounter Community, which takes care of youth and kids with adiction problems, based on his son`s comments. In his private business, the italian had coffe and banana crops. In love with the sea, Mr. Vito was one of the greatest promoters of sailing sports and president of the Sailing Costarrican Asosiation. For the italian ambassador, Sansonetti was always a fighter who never minded putting money of his own pocket to develop different proyects: "Each one is ambassador of its country contributing Costa Rica. Sansoneti was one of the greatest", he expressed.

In 1947, during the Theodore Picado Michalki's administration, is created the first school denominated  María Auxiliadora.  In 1968 , during the administration of José Joaquín Trejos Fernández the high shool was founded, actually called  Instituto Técnico Profesional Regional Agropecuario Humberto Melloni.

The fist church built in Sabalito was dedicated to the patriarch San Jose.

The priest Humberto Melloni, on april the 8th, 1953 celebrated the first baptism and the first marriage in the San Vito church.

The actual parish church is dedicated to "Nuestra Señora de Lourdes".  On December the 10th, 1965, the president Francisco Orlich Bolmarcich, awrds San Vito as a village. In 1970, was awarded as a city.

On December the 11, 1966 was selebrated the first session of the Coto Brus Congress. Note. Most of the information described here was  gathered by the information quiosco of the MEP. More details are going to be found on this site bibliography.

(0) Comments
Add Comment

Show your name ?

Would you visit the site and would use the service again? Were the employees friendly?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
How many times have you visited or used this service?
First time Very often Forever

Be the first to comment on this listing!

Coto Brus 0.00 10 0
Click the photos to enlarge
  • City
  • San Vito


© Southern Costa Rica 2016