Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Verona
Verona is a city rich in art and architecture. It lies about 80 km from Venice and the Adriatic,
at the point where the River Adige emerges from the Alps into the north Italian plain. The main part of the town is situated below the Alpine foothills on a peninsula enclosed on two sides by the Adige and linked with the districts on the left bank by ten bridges.
Verona became a Roman colony in 89 B.C. and developed into an important town. There are some remains from this time period, including the Roman amphitheater. Verona is also notable for its fine 11 century Romanesque churches. The city was a considerable artistic center in the Renaissance period, particularly in the field of architecture. Its leading architects were the Dominican monk Fra Giocondo (c. 1433-1515) and Michele Sammichele (1484-1559). Sammichele erected numerous splendid buildings and built the bastioned town walls (1530 onwards).
At the end of the Corso Cavour, on the banks of the Adige, stands the Castelvecchio, built by the Scaligers in 1354-55. From the viewing platform of the main tower, which was completed 1375, there are extensive views. The castle now houses the Civico Museo d'Arte, which contains Veronese sculpture, applied art, and an excellent picture gallery with works of the 15th-16th century Veronese school.
2 Roman Amphitheater (Arena)
The Roman Amphitheater in Verona, one of the largest of its kind, was built in the reign of Diocletian, about A.D. 290. Only four arches of the outer wall on the north side have survived. With its 44 rows of seating it can accommodate some 22,000 spectators, and from the top rows there are fine views. The overall length of the structure was 152 m, and its height 32 m. In July and August a famous opera festival is held in the Arena.
Verona is part of the summer festival circuit which also includes Bayreuth and its Wagner operas and Salzburg. The Verona performances usually run from mid-July to mid-August.
3 Casa di Giuletta
Verona is perhaps most well known internationally as the setting for Shakespeare's famous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. On Via Cappello stands the Casa di Giuletta, a 13th century building said to be Juliet's residence, with the famous balcony.
4 San Zeno Maggiore
The large 11-12th century Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore is perhaps the finest Romanesque building in northern Italy. The beautiful main front is flanked by a slender Romanesque campanile (1045-1178) and the 14th century battlemented defensive tower of a former Benedictine abbey. The bronze doors have Romanesque reliefs with Biblical and secular scenes. The interior has an unusual 14th century timber roof and beautiful Romanesque capitals. In the aisles are frescoes of the 13th-15th centuries. In the choir is a marble figure, ascribed to the 14th century, of St Zeno, bishop of Verona (d. 380), whose reliquary is in the crypt. On the high altar is a "Madonna with Saints" by Mantegna (1456-59) and on the north side of the church is an elegant Romanesque cloister.
5 Piazza delle Erbe
The central feature of the old town of Verona is the elongated Piazza delle Erbe, one of the most picturesque squares in Italy. It stands on the site of the Roman forum, which is now a fruit and vegetable market. In the center of the square is the 16th century Berlina, a canopy borne on four columns, formerly used for the election of the Signori and the PodestÓ. To the north of it is the Market Fountain (1368), with the "Madonna Verona", an ancient marble statue.
At the north end of the square the Marble Column bears the lion of St Mark, the emblem of Venetian authority. At the northeast corner stands the Casa Mazzanti, originally built by the Scaligers. Like many houses in the town, it is adorned with Renaissance frescoes. On the north side of the square is the Baroque Palazzzo Maffei (1668), and to the left of this the Torre del Gardello (1370). The Casa dei Mercanti at the corner of Via Pellicciai was rebuilt in 1878 in its original 1301 form. Opposite rises the 84 m high Torre del Lamberti, with a medieval bell, "El Rengo", used as a storm warning. A lift takes visitors to the viewing platform.
6 Tombs of the Scaligers
The church of Santa Maria Antica was completed in the 12th century. Adjoining it are the imposing Gothic Tombs of the Scaligers (Arche Scaligere), with the ladder (scala) which was the heraldic emblem of the family frequently recurring in the elaborate wrought-iron railings. Above the church door are the sarcophagus and a copy of an equestrian statue of Cangrande della Scala (d. 1329). To the left are the mural monument of Giovanni (d. 1359) and the sarcophagus of Mastino I (d. 1277). Within the railings, under a canopy, are the sarcophagi and equestrian statues of Mastino II (d. 1351) and Cansignorio (d. 1375).
7 Piazza dei Signori and Loggia del Consiglio
The Piazza dei Signori is surrounded by palaces, and in the middle stands a monument to Dante (1865). Recent excavations here have uncovered Roman mosaics and other remains. The Palazzo della Ragione (Town Hall), on the south side of the Piazza dei Signori, was begun in 1193 but altered in later centuries. The the main front of the building is Renaissance, dating to 1524. In the courtyard are a Gothic grand staircase (1446-50) and the entrance to the Torre del Comune. Also in the square are a battlemented tower and the Palazzo dei Tribunali, formerly the Palazzo del Capitano, with a Renaissance doorway by Michele Sammichele, converted in 1530-31 from a Scaliger Palace. On the east side of the square is the Palazzo del Governo (Prefecture), originally another Scaliger palace, rebuilt in the 16th century, and containing a doorway by Sammichele from 1532.
On the north side of the Piazza dei Signori stands the Loggia del Consiglio, one of the finest Early Renaissance buildings in Italy. It was built by Fra Giocondo, 1486-93, and is crowned by statues of famous citizens of Verona.
The cathedral is a 12th century Romanesque basilica with a 15th century Gothic nave. Adjoining it is a campanile on a Romanesque base, designed by Sammichele but not completed until 1927. On the beautiful main doorway of the cathedral are figures of Charlemagne's two paladins Roland and Oliver (c. 1139-53). Within the church, on the first altar on the left, is the "Assumption" by Titian (1525), and at the end of the south aisle is the Gothic tomb of St Agatha (1353). Note also the red marble pillars and marble choir-screen. To the left of the cathedral is a Romanesque cloister (1123), with an Early Christian mosaic pavement on a lower level.
9 Giardino Giusti
At the Palazzo Giusti (1580) is the lovely Giardino Giusti, with beautiful old cypresses and a hedge maze. This impressive Italian garden features delightful views from the terrace and offers a peaceful retreat from the city.
Other Points of Interest
Beyond the Roman bridge, the Ponte della Pietra, on the hillside, below the commandingly situated Castel San Pietro, is the Roman Theater (Teatro Romano), with remains of the stage wall. It was built in the reign of Augustus and excavated between 1904 and 1939.
At the west end of Corso Porta Borsari is the Porta dei Borsari, one of the Roman city gates. It was built in the first century A.D. and restored in 265.
Tomba di Giuletta
In the Campo di Fiera, near the Adige in the southern part of the town, is a cloister built in 1899. It contains a medieval trough which purports to be the coffin of Juliet Capulet (Tomba di Giuletta), Shakespeare's heroine.
Below the Castelvecchio, the Adige is spanned by the fine Ponte Scaligero, a 14th century bridge. It was restored in 1949-51 after wartime destruction.
To the south of Corso Cavour in Verona and linked with it by a number of streets is the spacious Piazza BrÓ. On the north side of the square, near the end of Via Mazzini, is the Palazzo Malfatti, created by Sammichele. Opposite it stands an equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel II (1883).
On the south side of the Piazza BrÓ is the Palazzo Municipale or Town Hall, built in 1836-38, with a semicircular extension built after 1945. To the right the long building of the Gran Guardi was the old guard-house (1614), and adjoining this the Portoni della BrÓ, an old gateway and tower. Beyond this are the Museo Lapidario Maffeiano (Lapidarium) and the Teatro Filarmonico (opera).
San Fermo Maggiore
From the Piazza delle Erbe, Via Cappello, which becomes Via Leoni, runs southeast to the church of San Fermo Maggiore. This church features a Romanesque lower portion, built in the 11th-12th century, and a Gothic upper section from the 13th-14th century. The facade is beautifully decorated in marble. The church houses a 14th century wooden crucifix, and contains a number of notable monuments and pictures by Pisanello and others. Immediately beyond the church is the Ponte delle Navi.
The former Franciscan church of San Bernardino, built in the 15th century, has a large arcaded courtyard with gravestones and remains of frescoes. The Cappella Pellegrini, begun by Sammichele before 1554, has fine Renaissance decoration.