Verona is a city in Veneto region of northern Italy. Its historic center, built in a bend of the Adige river, is from the Middle Ages.
One cannot think of Verona except as the tragic scenario of the love affair of Romeo and Juliet. The drama by Shakespeare has certainly made the fortune of the Venetian city: a good part of the city’s economy is based on this “romantic tourism”, which finds its worthy conclusion under Juliet’s famous balcony.
The House of Romeo and Juliet in Verona
The Veronese recognized the Capulet house: the legend is linked to reality, finding reference points in it. A splendid brick-clad façade with a Gothic-style portal leads visitors inland: in the courtyard is a bronze statue of Juliet and the famous balcony that saw the love between the two youngsters. Juliet’s house is a must see for those who want to discover the places that inspired the love story par excellence. Whether you believe the legend or not, it remains one of the things to see in Verona no matter what. Less fortunate is the Casa di Romeo, today a private residence, not far from the Scaliger Tombs. On the Gothic facade an inscription reads: “Oh! Where is Romeo? … Shut up, I lost myself: I am not here and I am not Romeo, Romeo is elsewhere” (Act 1, scene 1). The Tomb of Juliet is located in an ancient convent of Capuchin friars of the thirteenth century in Via del Pontiere, 35.
The Arena of Verona
The Roman Amphitheater, better known as the “Arena”, is, together with Romeo and Juliet, the symbol that makes Verona famous throughout the world and the first thing that tourists choose to see as soon as they set foot in the city.
Probably built around the first century, the Arena, like all amphitheaters, hosted gladiatorial shows. It was the fourth amphitheater after the Colosseum of Rome, that of Capua and that of Milan with a solid and imposing structure with the exterior covered with brick and stone from Verona that create a sparkling chromatic effect. Inside, with the concentric movement of the steps, it arouses in the spectators a singular effect of majesty. It takes its name from the “rena“, the sand that is found in the central part on which the shows were held. It could accommodate up to 30,000 spectators, leaving plenty of space for those who performed. A grand stage for important musical performances, the Arena continues to preserve its millenary function, albeit with less bloody shows!
Verona is the theater where the tragic love affair of Romeo and Juliet was consummated, made immortal by the pen of William Shakespeare.
Church of San Zeno Maggiore in Verona
Legend has it that during the flood of the Adige in 589, the water stopped at the threshold of this church built on the burial site of Bishop Zeno. San Zeno, of African origin, was the eighth bishop of Verona (around 362-380) and converted the city to Christianity.
The Church of San Zeno Maggiore is one of the greatest examples of Romanesque architecture in Italy and the current appearance seems to date back to the 12th century. In addition to preserving the body of the Saint, the Church is rich in sculptures and paintings from the 12th to the 16th century, among which a particular attention goes to the Altarpiece of San Zeno by Andrea Mantegna, first example of “sacred conversation” with the Madonna in the center with the Child. From the left, we can recognize St. Peter with the keys, St. Paul with the sword, St. John the Evangelist with the pink dress, St. Zeno in episcopal clothes, St. Benedict with the monastic habit, St. Lawrence with the grate, St. Gregory the Great dressed as Pope and St. John the Baptist with the typical hermit’s robe in the desert.
Piazza delle Erbe in Verona
A colorful fruit and vegetable market with its array of umbrellas, surrounded by buildings and historical monuments is the main feature of Piazza delle Erbe: the oldest square in Verona, where the medieval buildings, little by little, took the place of those Romans.
It is the place where you can best seize the most popular and lively side of the city, without giving up the cultural aspect of your holiday. During the market, on Saturdays and Sundays, it is the living room of the city, where the Veronese meet to do the shopping or for the evening aperitif ritual. The Palazzo del Comune, the Torre dei Lamberti, the Casa dei Giudici and the Mazzanti houses overlook the square. On the smaller side there is the Baroque Palazzo Maffei embellished with several statues of Greek gods: Jupiter, Hercules, Minerva, Venus, Mercury and Apollo. Beautiful Casa dei Mercanti (or Domus Mercatorum), where today Banca Popolare di Verona is based. In the square there is the fountain called “Madonna Verona” which contends the attention with the Capitello, also called Tribuna and erroneously Berlina. It already existed in the 13th century, when the podestàs sat under it for the inauguration ceremony and or the magistrates before their settlement.
The Bridges of Verona
The Adige river cuts Verona in two: bridges, therefore, have always played an essential role in the city. Today there are 7 who shared the fate of having been destroyed by the retreating Nazis and then rebuilt in subsequent years.
The oldest of all is the Ponte di Pietra, dating back to Roman times, which still links the Roman Theater with the city center. Fortunately, the blocks of stone and bricks projected into the riverbed by the explosion were recovered and used to reconstruct the bridge in a very faithful way to the original. The other representative bridge is the Scaliger one, right in front of the Castelvecchio. Built in the second half of the fourteenth century with three unequal arches, it suffered the same fate as the Ponte di Pietra and was rebuilt in 1951 with the original stones and bricks recovered on the Adige riverbed.
Piazza dei Signori and Scaliger Tombs in Verona
The administrative power of Verona has always been concentrated in this beautiful square surrounded by monumental buildings connected by arcades and arcades.
In the center of the square, the large statue of Dante immediately strikes, which in Verona found refuge immediately after the exile from Florence. You enter the piazza from the Arco della Costa and immediately you find the façade of the Domus Nova on the left. Continuing in a clockwise direction is the Loggia del Consiglio and the Palazzo degli Scaligeri, Lords of Verona from 1260 to 1387. The Palazzo del Capitanio follows with the corner tower overlooking the square, connected by an arch to the Palazzo della Ragione. The arch leads to the courtyard of the Old Market with the splendid Scala della Ragione. From the Torre dei Lamberti. you can admire a splendid panorama of the square and the roofs of Verona. Almost in a separate square, there is the Church of Santa Maria Antica in whose courtyard the Scaliger Tombs rise. The evocative funerary complex is an extraordinary example of Gothic architecture in Italy. The Arks were built to house the remains of some representatives of the Della Scala family. Those of Cangrande I, Mastino II and Cansignorio stand out for their monumentality and decorations.