Verona is a city in northern Italy near Lake Garda and in a bend of the fast-flowing river Adige, a strategically impeccable location as the river flows from the slopes of the Alps to the plain. It is the second largest city of the Venice region and the administrative center of the province of the same name with a population of 252,600 people.
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Called the city of bridges (there are ten), Verona was once the most important city of the Venetian state, located in mainland Italy. Filled with picturesque streets and squares, famous for its art and architecture, the city is very attractive for tourists.
Verona was glorified by the great William Shakespeare and became one of the most romantic places in the world and most visited city in Italy. Millions of travelers from all over the world rush here to see Juliet’s house and stand under her balcony. The city of love gives everyone the opportunity to feel the special and unique romantic atmosphere that exists only here. Although the great playwright was never in this city, we think that if he had been here today he might have enjoyed the Arena Festival and the annual wine fair so much, that he would surely have thought of a happier ending to his play.
Many tourists are attracted to this Italian city by its beautiful buildings and historical monuments. Verona is on par with Venice or Milan in the number of attractions and is considered a “Rome in miniature”.
View of the Lamberti Tower
The first settlements in this area were formed by the Venetians, Etruscans and Raetians. In the first century BC the city became a colony of Rome and was called Verona.
The advantageous geographical position of the city more than once made it a desirable prey of conquerors. At various times it was visited by the Goths, Franks, Byzantines and Lombards. Cultural and economic prosperity Verona experienced in the XIII-XIV centuries, during the reign of the noble Ghibelline dynasty della Scala (the Scaligers). From the beginning of the XV to the end of the XVIII century it was part of the Venetian Republic, which was succeeded by Napoleon and then by the Austrians. It wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century that Verona became part of Italy.
Modern Verona is a thriving industrial, cultural and tourist center of the country which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. The city is divided into several districts. The oldest buildings of Verona, preserved since Roman times, are concentrated in Citta Antica. In addition, the city has a historic center, where most of the buildings constructed in the Middle Ages are located. Opposite the Castelvecchio, on the opposite bank of the River Adige, are the student quarter Veronetta and the neighborhoods around the Basilica of San Zeno. The Borgo Roma industrial area and Borgo Trieste business district are the latest in Verona. They are located only a kilometer from the central part of the city.
Attractions in Verona
The historic center of the city is a popular pedestrian zone, which is closed to traffic twice a day – from 7:30 to 10:00 and from 13:30 to 16:30. All the sights are located here so compactly that you can walk around them in an hour and a half. The distance from the train station to the Giusti Garden is about 3 km, and to the Arena – only 1.5 km.
The Arena di Verona (Via Dietro Anfiteatro, 6b, Piazza Brà) is the oldest architectural monument of the city, preserved since the times of Ancient Rome. It was built in 30 B.C. out of a beautiful pink marble. The Arena of Verona can only be compared in size and historical significance with the Roman Colosseum. It is amazing that the ancient monument survived the destructive earthquake of the XII century, and today it continues to be used as a huge opera house.
Arena di Verona
During the summer tourist season, it constantly hosts concerts by the best opera performers. And in addition to the productions, the Amphitheater offers daily guided tours for tourists from 8:30 to 7:30 p.m. Excursion tickets for an adult cost 4 euros, and for a child – 1 euro. Tickets for musical performances start at 15 euros.
Ponte Pietra Bridge
The Ponte Pietra, a 120-metre long bridge spanning the Adige River, has also been preserved in Verona since Roman times. One end of this stone bridge rests on an ancient watchtower. At the end of World War II, German troops, leaving Verona, blew up the ancient bridge. And it had to be rebuilt almost from scratch, using debris lifted from the river bed and reconstructing it from old photographs.
Places associated with the tragedy of Shakespeare have become a must-see for all tourists coming to Verona. First of all it is Juliet’s House where according to the legend lived the young beloved of Romeo (Via Cappello, 23).
It is interesting to note that until the 1930s the old building did not stand out in any way among the surrounding buildings and did not attract much attention. Interest in it arose after the film adaptation of the tragedy and the release of Romeo and Juliet. Realizing that the story of two lovers is becoming more and more popular, the city authorities of Verona actively undertook restoration of the old house. This took several decades. Juliet’s balcony appeared on it in 1997 and was made from a carved slab of the XIV century.
Juliet Balcony Wall of Notes
Today, Juliet’s House is a full-fledged tourist attraction. This place has become overgrown with many superstitions and traditions. People like to hold weddings here. It is customary for lovers to kiss under the famous balcony. And to touch the bronze statue of the protagonist of the tragedy is considered a very good omen. On the walls of the house on the side of the patio you can see a lot of notes with declarations of love, written in all languages of the world. Tourists themselves write letters to Shakespeare’s heroes. For this purpose, special mailboxes and computers are created in the House. And the processing of unusual mail and responses to letters are handled by volunteers from the Juliette Club. The courtyard, where Romeo confessed his love for his beloved, can be visited for free. And a tour of Juliet House costs 5 euros.
Popular with tourists is Verona’s old square – Piazza delle Erbe. It is surrounded by majestic Renaissance buildings, and along the perimeter there are cozy cafes that attract guests with the unique flavors of Italian cuisine. By day the square is full of souvenir sellers, and in the evening locals and visitors come here to drink good wine and eat freshly baked pizza.
Piazza delle Erbe
If you want to see Verona from above, you should visit the Tower of Lamberti (Via della Costa, 1), which began to be built in the 12th century. Climb its steep steps (or for 1 euro in an elevator) and take a detailed look at the picturesque quarters of the city. The 84-meter tower is accessible every day from 8:30 to 19:30 and the entrance fee is 8 euros.
The largest building in the city is the ancient Castelvecchio (Corso Castelvecchio, 2), built in the 14th century. Now it houses various collections of the Historical Museum, and exhibits rare coins, paintings of famous masters and ancient sculptures. Entrance ticket to the museum costs 6 euros.
One of the main attractions of the city is also a huge Cathedral, built in the XII century and dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Piazza Duomo, 21). Its magnificent marble facade and interiors amaze the tourists. The walls of the temple are decorated with paintings by Titian and inside there is an atmosphere of solemnity and grandeur.
The Cathedral of Verona Giusti Garden
For a break from the noise of the city, you need to visit one of Verona’s most beautiful parks, the Giusti Garden, created during the Renaissance period (Via Giardino Giusti, 2). It was many times rebuilt and nowadays it looks like a typical English free plan park. Surprisingly, the old citrus trees, so admired by Goethe, are preserved here. In addition, the picturesque garden has many sculptures and flower beds. The price of admission to the famous garden is 7 euros. And you can get here all year round.
The city of Verona. Its history and sights
Verona is one of the most famous and visited cities in Italy. History buffs are attracted by the well preserved amphitheater, and wine lovers – by the largest wine exhibition Vinitaly.
Verona is located in the northern Veneto region and its neighborhoods spread along the banks of the Adige River.
History of Verona
Once inhabited by Gauls and Venetians, Verona became a Roman colony in 89 BC. Verona became a Roman colony of great strategic importance. After the fall of the empire in the fifth century, the city was conquered by King Theodoric the Great of the Visigoths. Verona became his favorite place of residence, and rather the king was nicknamed Verona. Later the city came under the power of the Lombards and acquired metropolitan status. In 774 the Franks gained control of Verona under Charlemagne. Verona then fell under the influence of the Holy Roman Empire, and remained on its side throughout the struggle with the papal realm. In 1136 the city became a free commune, and later the noble Scaliger family came to power, replaced by the Visconti at the end of the 16th century. In 1405 Verona became part of the Venetian Republic. The next four centuries brought peace and prosperity, but there were also cataclysms. In 1603, there was a plague epidemic that took out almost half the city’s population. In 1797 Verona became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1815 the province of Verona became part of the Lombardo-Venetian Kingdom, and in 1866 it was annexed to Italy. In 1882 the Adige River overflowed its banks and flooded the historic city center, causing damage to many buildings. During World War II, Verona was bombed. After the fall of fascism, the city became the nucleus of the Italian Social Republic. Verona is now one of the most developed and wealthy cities in Italy. The economy is based on industry, commerce, agriculture and tourism.
Attractions in Verona
Verona has a fairly large number of attractions dating back to different centuries. The city has grown and developed, enriching its cultural heritage. The historic center belongs to the Middle Ages, although there are also later buildings. The quarters of Veronetta and San Zeno were formed during the late Middle Ages and there are Baroque villas and palazzo behind the city walls. Verona was surrounded by five walls, the ruins of which can still be seen today.
1. the Arena di Verona
The arena is a symbol of Verona and the third largest Roman amphitheater in Italy (after the Colosseum and the amphitheater at Capua).
When Caesar annexed Verona to Rome in 49 BC, the city began its rapid development. Verona became an important strategic point, a camp that housed legions. The Arena of Verona was built in the I-III centuries. Its dimensions are 152 by 123 meters and it seats 22,000 spectators. Since 1913, the Arena di Verona (www.arena.it) has become one of the most famous opera theaters in Italy, with performances held in the open air. There are comfortable seats in the parterre, and tickets are cheaper on the less comfortable stone steps, and there is an opportunity to feel like an ancient Roman.
2. Piazza Bra
Piazza Bra is Verona’s largest square. In its center is the Arena.
From here we see the city wall surrounding Verona. “But there is no peace beyond Verona’s walls: Purgatory there, torture, hell itself!” So Shakespeare wrote in “Romeo and Juliet,” although the great poet was never in Verona, perhaps it came to him that the city wall had always played a great role for the city, was its protection and hope. Verona was already of great strategic importance in Roman times, thanks to its location at the crossroads. Therefore, it needed protection from numerous enemies. The defense system included not only the wall, but also towers, fortified gates and forts. From Bra Square one can see the city wall of Scaligerian times, it is distinguished by ornaments in the form of a “swallow’s tail” and several towers preserved to this day.
Next to the main gate of Bra is a sculpture of a legless and armless pregnant woman. This controversial monument is considered the embodiment of courage and indomitable will, it shows that you can be a happy mother without arms or legs. The sitter was British artist Alison Lapper, disabled since birth. The marble sculpture was sculpted by Mark Quinn.
3. The Piazza delle Erbe
The Piazza delle Erbe is considered the oldest square in Verona and was built on the site of a Roman forum. In the dungeons around the square there are numerous ruins of ancient Roman buildings, among which are houses, basilicas and thermae. The picturesque Square of Trav is always full of life. Fruit and souvenirs are traded from the counters, in the bars they lazily drink spritz or eat ice cream.
In the center of the square is a fountain with an ancient article of the Madonna of Verona, which dates back to 380. The tower of Lamberti rises up to 84 meters, it was built in 1172 under the palazzo Ragione, where the court of Verona used to sit for several centuries. You can climb the tower by elevator or on foot (the ticket price is the same for elevator and on foot) and admire the beautiful panorama.
Opposite Palazzo Maffei, decorated with statues of Jupiter, Hercules, Minerva, Venus, Mercury and Apollo, is a white marble column with a lion, which is the symbol of the Republic of Venice. Lions with an open book were installed in peacetime, while a closed one indicates martial law.
4. Piazza dei Signori
Piazza dei Signori is connected to Piazza del Travia by a narrow street beneath the Lamberti Tower. The square was formed in the Middle Ages, when luxurious palazzos belonging to the political elite of the time began to be built around it. In the center in 1865 a monument was erected to Dante, who after his banishment from Florence found refuge in Verona.
5. Church of Santa Maria Antica and the Arches of the Scaligers
The Church of Santa Maria Antica is located near Piazza della Signoria. In the 7th century a small chapel was built on this site, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1117. In 1185 a new Romanesque church was built, the exterior of which has survived to this day. The church played the role of a private chapel of the Scaligers, who built their tomb, the Arches of the Scaligers, next to it. The tombstone was made in the Gothic style in the fourteenth century, and various sculptors worked on it.
6. The Arch of Gavi
The Arch of Gavi is located on the ancient Roman Postumian road that led from Genoa to Aquileia. It was erected in the first century to mark the arrival of the Roman family of Gavi (or Gabius).
The cathedral (Duomo) is dedicated to St. Mary the Intercessor. It was built in the fourth century in honor of St. Helena. In the twelfth century it was rebuilt, later the cathedral also underwent various changes, especially in the sixteenth century, when the present facade appeared. The bell tower was added much later in 1915-20. But it remained unfinished; legend has it that this was done on purpose so that the bell tower would not rise above the Lamberti tower.
The façade of the cathedral is made of white and pink marble. Inside the temple is divided into three naves. The central nave was designed by Michele Sanmichele, who was a great architect and engineer of Verona. The side aisles contain numerous works of art, among them Titian’s masterpiece, The Ascension of Our Lady.
8. San Zeno Basilica
The Basilica di San Zeno is one of the most important basilicas in Verona. It was founded in the fourth century, over the centuries the church has risen, the basic structure dates from the X-XI centuries, the complete construction was completed in 1389.
The basilica contains numerous works of art, among which the masterpiece by Andrea Mantegna, a bronze portal. The facade is decorated with a rosette window, called the “wheel of fortune”.
9. Stone Bridge (Ponte Pietra)
The stone bridge is the oldest and the only one left from Roman times in Verona. It has survived several floods and the Second World War, having suffered serious damage. The bridge is almost 93 meters long and connects the two banks of the Adige River, which is the second longest in Italy.
10. Basilica of Santa Anastasia
Santa Anastasia Basilica is one of the most beautiful and significant in Verona.
Its construction began in 1290, when the Bishop of Verona Manfredo Roberti decided that the Dominican monks needed a monastery and a church within the city walls. The temple was consecrated in 1471, but work continued; moreover, the facade is still unfinished. Inside, the basilica is rich in architectural elements and works of art. Two unusual bowls for holy water stand out: on the right, the Pasquino bowl by Paolo Orefice, made in 1591; on the left, the Hunchback bowl by Gabriele Cagliari, father of the famous artist Paolo Veronese, dating back to 1495. It is believed that touching the hunchback brings good luck.
11. Juliet’s Balcony
Thanks to William Shakespeare, Verona became the city of Romeo and Juliet. Although the prototypes of the characters of the famous tragedy lived in Udine, Verona now has “Juliet’s house”, which is a medieval building in via Cappello, close to the Trava Square. Tourists love to visit the little courtyard to see the balcony of Romeo’s beloved and climb on it for a photo. There is also a statue of Juliet, next to which they leave love notes and lock the heart-shaped locks.
12. Scaliger’s Castle and Bridge
Scaliger’s Castle and Bridge is a trademark of Verona. The old castle was called the Fortress of San Martino in Acquaro and is now considered the most important example of military architecture during the Scaliger period. It was part of the system of fortifications on the right bank of the river Adige.
The majestic castle was built by order of Can Grande II in 1355-1375. It was surrounded by a crenellated wall with towers. The moat that surrounded the castle and the bridge have been partially preserved. Subsequent rulers have made changes. Now in the fortress walls is an art museum, where you can see the works of Bellini, Pisano, Francesca, Rubens, Tintoretto, Tiepolo and other artists.
13. Veronetta quarter.
The Veronetta quarter is located on the left bank of the Adige River. Its name comes from the French word Veronette during the occupation at the beginning of the XIX century. So the French disparagingly called the part of the city occupied by the Austrians. The quarter lies on the hill of San Pietro, where the first settlement, which later became the city of Verona, was founded. The high peak had a strategic position and served as a natural protection in case of enemy attacks. Now it offers a magnificent view of Verona, cut by the river Adige.
14. Via Porta Borsari
The Via Porta Borsari which begins at Piazza del Trav was a decumano in the ancient Roman period. Nowadays there are stores, cafes and restaurants along it.
The street ends with the entrance gate of Borsari, dating back to the first century. Next to them is a copy of the statue of Kate Moss, the work of the scandalous sculptor Mark Quinn.
The Borsari Gate, i.e. the Speculators’ Gate, is laid out in the Roman wall. There was once a temple dedicated to Jupiter not far from here, and the gate was also named after the god. Then the name was changed to honor St. Zen, and they got their current name because of the soldiers who collected the “entrance fee.”
15. Church of San Fermo
The church of San Fermo (chiesa di San Fermo) was founded in the eighth century, this part is now preserved on the lower level, in the eleventh century the Benedictines completed the upper church.
In 1260, the Franciscans added a Gothic facade of red brick and white tuff. In the ancient crypt there are frescos from the 7th to the 8th century.