The riches of Verona are an infinite source of inspiration to visit the city, just like millions of tourists do every year. As you probably know, in 2000 the city was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Yes, the old town, where I love to wander alone or with friends, is a UNESCO World Heritage city!
"The historic city of Verona was founded in the 1st century B.C. It particularly flourished under the rule of the Scaliger family in the 13th and 14th centuries and as part of the Republic of Venice from the 15th to 18th centuries. It also represents an outstanding example of a military stronghold. Verona has preserved a remarkable number of monuments from antiquity, the medieval and Renaissance periods. It is a city of art and culture"
(World Heritage List - City of Verona)
Verona is a real treasure, with an old town where you can still see evidence of the past, layered over the centuries and perfectly preserved. An outstanding example of a “city fortified in several stages, characteristic of European history”.
Piazza Bra: a melting pot of history
Start with a little wander around the city’s most famous square, Piazza Bra, very famous because the wonderful Arena stands in the middle of it. Here you can see everything that I was talking about earlier, the stunning mixture of elements from different era: the Roman amphitheatre, the mediaeval walls marking the boundary of Corso Porta Nuova and continuing towards Via degli Alpini.
Did you know that our tourist information office is in these ancient walls? Just walking into the tourist office to ask for information is like stepping back in time!
And you cannot fail to notice the Liston, the broad pavement made from pink stone which runs along the western side of the square, covered with the tables of bars and restaurants facing the Arena. The buildings along the Liston and the pavement itself were built between the 1400s and 1700s, when the city was part of the Venetian Republic. The Palazzo Barbieri and the Palazzo della Gran Guardia, two large palaces which dominate the square, are from a later era. Palazzo Barbieri, now the head office of the city council, and Palazzo della Gran Guardia, which is a venue for temporary art exhibitions, conferences and conventions, date from the period when the city was controlled by Austria in the 19th century.
Evidence of ancient Rome can be found everywhere in Verona: from Porta Borsari, once the entrance to the city, to Porta Leoni, from Ponte Pietra to the splendid Teatro Romano overlooking the Adige and the Arci dei Gavi next to the Castelvecchio. No trip to Verona is complete without a visit to the Arena, the breathtaking amphitheatre in Piazza Bra which dates back to the 1st century AD. And there is more, such as the remains of the Capitolium where the 17th century Palazzo Maffei now stands, in Piazza Erbe, which used to be a Roman forum. Just a short walk from the square is the Corte Sgarzerie archaeological site, open to visitors, along with the Valdonega Roman villa.
The mediaeval city
Part of the city’s rich heritage come from its mediaeval remains, such as Piazza dei Signori, created by the construction of palaces during the reign of the Scaliger dynasty, at the centre of which stands the statue of Dante Alighieri, along with Palazzo della Ragione and the Lamberti tower. The palace houses the city’s museum of modern art, called GAM. However, the symbol of the Scaliger city is the Castelvecchio, a mediaeval castle which immediately catches the eye from all angles. The “Old Castle”, as its name translates, dates from the 14th century and is now one of the city’s most important museums, restored after the damage caused in World War Two by the great Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa. The museum contains some important examples of sculpture, works by Italian and foreign painters, ancient weaponry, ceramics, jewellery, miniature paintings and the old city bells.
City of art and culture
In Verona, there is truly something for everything!
Of the city’s many museums, do not miss the Museo Archeologico at the Teatro Romano, the G. B. Cavalcaselle fresco museum at the tomb of Juliet, the Museo di Storia Naturale, the Museo Lapidario Maffeiano, the Fondazione Museo Miniscalchi Erizzo, the Museo Africano, the MusALab Franca Rame Dario Fo and the Museo della Radio. And for younger visitors, there is the not-to-be-missed Children’s Museum Verona!
There are so many churches in Verona!
The four main ones are the San Zeno basilica, San Fermo church, Sant’Anastasia basilica and the cathedral of Santa Maria Matricolare. Near to the cathedral is a particularly special cultural monument, the Biblioteca Capitolare, the oldest library still in use in the world, a place visited by such luminaries as Dante and Petrarch. If you have already visited the city’s most famous churches, then consider exploring the fascinating itineraries of Verona Minor Hierusalem in search of some magnificent examples of Christian architecture. Wandering through the streets of the old town is always a magical experience. The past is always with you in Verona’s streets, it lies in the beautiful views and in the stories which are woven into the very fabric of the city. Art, history and culture are with you on every step of your journey through Verona, always there, at every moment, on your guided tour of the city centre, during a break at a traditional restaurant or during an evening at the theatre. In Verona, there is beauty everywhere!