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Panorama of Verona


Riverside Ruins, Verona


River Adige, Verona


Piazza Bra, Vernona

Welcome to Verona
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 243,474 (2003)
Official website:
Verona
Wikipedia: Verona
Map: MapQuest

Verona, of course, is "fair Verona", home to literature's most famous, star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.  It should not surprise you, therefore, that Juliet's balcony is one of Verona's most visited tourist attractions (despite the fact that Shakespeare's characters were fictional and no such historical place exists).

Click here for an historical
summary of Verona
.

UNESCO has declared Verona a world heritage site; one visit will tell you why.  Sitting on the banks of the fast flowing River Adige at the foot of the Lessini Mountains (a national park), the city has an engaging vibrancy, a welcoming, open atmosphere, and an array of historical sites and monuments that speak of a long and colorful past.  Those of you who embrace Italian style will find a wide variety of fashionable shops, and a plethora of good restaurants, chic trattoria and cool cafes.

When you arrive in Verona, as a starting place, we suggest you find the expansive Piazza Bra in the city's center, lined on one side by a row of colorful shops, and on the other by the Arena.  The Arena, one of the best preserved Roman amphitheaters in all of Italy, originally built in the 1st Century AD by the Romans, and is still in use as a setting for outdoor opera and other cultural events.  After the Coliseum in Rome and the arena in Capua, the Arena is the third largest Roman amphitheatre in the country.

There are other Roman ruins in the city to discover, most notably the Arco dei of Gavi and the Teatro Romano, also built in the 1st century, also still in occasional use as a theatrical stage.  You can find the theater on the opposite bank by crossing the Ponte Pietra (stone bridge).

The Arco dei Gavi, demolished by Napoleon's troops in 1805, was rebuilt in 1932. It used to straddle the principal Roman road, now the Corso Cavour.

To find Juliet's fictional balcony, proceed up the Via Mazzini, past many more chic shops to 23 Via Cappello.  Romeo's equally fictitious house is marked by a plaque at No. 4 via Arche Scalinger.

Reversing directions on the via Capello, you will come to Piazza dell'Erbe, with its lively vegetable market surrounded by a number of fascinating historical buildings.  A little farther along through the narrow medieval streets, is the Piazza dei Signori, which is dominated by the imposing, even intimidating, Scaliger tombs, resting place of the "Dogs of Verona" (not the Doges of Venice!).  The Scala family lorded over Verona during the middle ages, taking on canine names: Can Grande (Big Dog), Mastino (Mastiff), Cansignorio (Lord Dog) etc.  The area around this remarkable site is choc-a-bloc full of fascinating architecture - houses, the odd palace, even the remains of the old Roman road.

Around the Piazza you will also find the Palazzo di Comune with its neoclassical facade, a medieval tower, Il Torrei del Lamberti, over 80 meters high, the Palazzo Tribunale (also known as the Palazzo del Capitanio) and the Loggia del Consiglio originally built in the 12th Century, but renovated extensively in the 15th and thus serving as a great example of Veronese Renaissance architecture.

The Scaligeri built a number of important buildings in Verona, but perhaps the most impressive is their  fortress, the Castelvecchio, sitting on the banks of the Adige.  Started in the mid 1300s, and possessing its own bridge across the river -the Ponte Scaligero - the building is still very much in use as Verona's most important art gallery and museum, containing art and artifacts dating from the 4th Century.

The Palazzon Pompeii, designed by the architect Sammicheli, whose work is scattered throughout medieval Verona, is now home to the Natural History Museum.

The Duomo, built largely in the Romanesque style in the 12th Century , but with Gothic elements, can't and shouldn't be missed - it's too large,  imposing and important.  Inside, which is mostly Gothic, amidst the multifarious splendor of the place, in the first chapel to the left, look for Titian's "Assumption", painted in 1335, a stunning example of the master's work.

The Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore, also Romanesque, which sits on the foundations of an earlier churche, which itself was built on an even earlier church, is far more impressive than the Duomo.  The Basilica and the adjacent 72 meter high campanile (bell tower), built between 1123 and 1135, has too many fabulous details to recount here, so consult your guide book and read more before you visit, or even while on the spot.

We commend you also to the Basilica San Lorenzo, built in 1177, a beautiful small church, built in alternating layers of brick and stone, also done in the Romanesque style.  It's interior is spare, almost protestant - cool and calming.

The small Scaligeri family church is another example of Romanesque architecture.  Santa Maria Antica is also built in alternating rows of brick and stone.  The squared belfry has mullioned windows in the Gothic style.

Lastly, the very large preaching church of the Dominicans, Santa Anastasia, built between 1290 and 1481, has a Gothic facade but with various Romanesque elements on the inside and out.  Inside there are a number of 15th Century frescoes that will capture your eye.

Other sites worth taking time to discover include the gates in the old Roman wall: Porta dei Borsari with a facade from the 3rd Century.  The road that comes into the old city from this gate, the via Sacra, passes several Renaissance palazzi.

The area surrounding another gate, the Porta dei Leoni, dating to the 1st century, is an active archeological site where many other Roman era ruins have been unearthed.

Well, there is a great deal more to see besides these principal sites.  Indeed, the individual sites seem almost secondary to the overall atmosphere.  It is for this reason that Julius Caeser liked to spend time relaxing here and why the place figures largely in Dante's "Divine Comedy". As we know, Shakespeare made much ado about Verona in "Romeo and Juliet". The city is oft mentioned in the writings of many others, the German, Goethe, for one, the Frenchman, Paul Valery, for another.

Go to Verona and no longer wonder why it exercises such imaginative power over such genius.

By Vian Andrews, November 16th, 2005

Region of Veneto

4526′N 1059′E

Distances

Vicenza - 62 km
Padua - 88 km
Trento - 99 km
Venice - 121 km
Treviso - 139 km
Milano - 168 km
Trieste - 262 km

Directory

 

Verona Window Box
 

Contributions: If you would like to contribute information about Verona, we'd love to hear from you. Talk Italy Forums

 

The Teatro Romano is used as an outdoor venue during the July and August opera season.  It seats 25,000 and is an ideal backdrop for opera.  But, make a reservation, and bring a cushion.  Those stone stalls are very hard!

 

The Piazza Bra has a much different odor than in centuries past when it was a livestock market!  At the southern end, by the City Hall you will find a tourist office where you can find maps and brochures that will help you enjoy your visit.