Built in the Romanesque style, Santa Maria Assunta is Verona's main cathedral. It dates back to the 12th century and it was built on the site where two churches that were destroyed in the 1117 earthquake used to stand. In fact, it's still possible to see the remains of those two churches by stepping through the side door that leads to the church of Santa Elena and the San Giovanni in Fonte baptistery, which might be the cathedral's most interesting features along with Titian's "Assunta" (not to be confused with the one in Venice). The small church of Santa Elena dates back to the 9th century and although it was damaged during the earthquake, it was quickly restored. A glass panel laid on the floor of the altar makes it possible to see some architectural remains. The baptistery is also quite impressive - it was carved out of one single marble block at the beginning of the 12th century and the eight sculpted panels that make up its orthogonal shape are in remarkable condition.
Entrance to the cathedral is included in the Verona Card.
.... in medieval times!
On the "take a look at the walls" tip serie... this is just another episode.
Heritage of the Venetian domination times (1405-1501), in a wall of one of the government building was installed a special stoney "mailbox" to collect anonymous complaints against usury.
That "lion mouth" mailbox is still there, in Piazza Dante (or dei Signori), as you can see it in the picture.
The sign says (in ancient Italian)
more or less
AND USURARY CONTRACTS
OF ANY KIND
That was not an era on fair trials...
When you walk around the Verona center, take a look at the walls of the builings, they may hide little tresures, like some roman sculptured piece of marble here or there.
This one in the picture is a little off the beaten path, but it's very big. Part of a sculptured roman monumental tomb, representing the faces of the family members.
The scuplture isn't in a museum, but inserted in the outer side of the longobard Verona walls (along via Pallone) just at the beginning of Via del Pontiere.
You can walk along it!
Pic #2 shows a roman inscription at the beginning of Via Rosa, Piazza Erbe side.
GAVIA Q. F. MAXIMA
IN AQVAM HS Q. ((( I )))
Translated from, latin, more or less "Gavia Maxima, daughter of Quintus, gave with her last will 500,000 sestertia for the wateryes". The rich woman of the Gavia family (the same of the arch) made a gift to the town of an acqueduct bringing fresh water from Valpolicella to the town center. How kind of her!
Pic #3 shows some carved stones used in the pillars of the east gate of the Scaligery palace north of Piazza Bra, one of the entrances of Cortile Mercato Vecchio
Pic#4 is another roman marble. An ancient bracket with a sculpted Gorgon's head (on a side) and a Triton playing a Buccina on the other . You can see it at the corner of Corso Portoni Borsari and Via Valerio Catullo (close to Porta Borsari)
Only six main bridges cross over into the old city, and three are from the 13th century, maybe renovated somewhat. Floods were commonplace for the river Adige until a dam and backflow was created in 1970's. The main bridge is Ponte Pietra. It was destroyed during WWI, but repaired and rebuilt. The Ponte Peitra has two arches dating back to 50 BC still remaining
Verona is small enough to walk around in, especially in its most interesting Roman center.
Piazza della Erbe, the local market located between the Via Mazzini and the Corso Porta Borsari, is lovely for a browse amongst the stalls. I found that they sold much the same souvenirs as in Venice - but cheaper.
It served as a Roman forum. You can progress to the frescoed Loggia del Consiglio along a passage over which hangs the rib of a whale. In the middle of the square is the Madonna Verona Fountain from the 14th century.
You can find here not only many historic buildings, sculptures but a popular and colorful market with fresh fruits and vegetables, as well.
The 84 meters high Torre Lamberti is the tallest building in Verona. At the top of the tower are the Rengo and Marangona bells. Both of these bells date back from 1464. Just be aware of them, while you are up there, they can be quite loud. The view from here is marvelous!
Behind the busy Piazza Erbe, on Piazza dei Signoria we can admire a statue of Dante together with the surrounding historical buildings which are joined with elegant arches, mostly dating from the 14th century.
The Old Castle of Castelvecchio ( Corso Castelvecchio 2 ) with its brick towers and turrets is a fairy-tale place. The castle built in the 13th century has its own stone bridge, the Ponte Scaligero, used as an escape route by the fleeing Castle-Lords.
After an intensive restoration it houses now a fascinating museum with masterworks by Tintoretto, Tiepolo, Veronese, Bellini, and the Verona-born Pisanello. It is opened daily from 9am to 6.30pm, except on Mondays, admission fee €3.10.
The Roman amphitheater, the Arena of Verona is the third largest arena of its kind, with a seating capacity of twenty thousand (only beaten by the Colisseum in Rome, and that in the Imperial playground of Capua). It was built during the last years of the emperor Augustus.
Don't be surprised to find the arena still in use. Today there are no gladiators and wild beasts, the acts that used to pull in the blood-thirsty spectators.
Nowadays the arena is used among others for the Summer Opera Festival. The first performance started in the summer of 1913 playing Aida by Giuseppe Verdi.
When there is no opera, you may visit in the afternoon for a fee of €3.10.
Notice: And while you cannot miss the arena it is quite easy to miss the entrance - follow the wall clockwise, and not anti-clockwise!
It is amazing that so much of this theater is still intact from its origin 1st century AD. The stage does exist, and the seating is still there in good shape given its years in the weather. Built on St. Peters hill, with Castel San Pietro on top. Due to deterioration, floods, and the 1117 earthquake, it was abandoned, the theater was not in use for many years. It became a convent and a church, building on the old structure forms. Due to excavation done in the 17t century and continued through the 19t century, the theater was revived. It was even used as a competing theater of the arena for years after WWII. In 1834, Andrea Monga bought a lot of the homes that were on top of the ruins. In 1904 Verona bought the complex and continued the excavation of the site.
There are great artifacts of columns, flooring tiles, pictures, and also the loggia areas and what seems to be a living quarter in that era.
This is one of the best sites, that in my opinion compares to the arena for fame. Open 8:30 to 19:30 except Monday. A Verona card gives you access at a discount, otherwise the cost is around 6 Euro. The tour greeters are friendly and helpful-but the tour is self guided through the crypts, and inside the buildings.
There is something different around every corner in Verona, so much history. You just need to look up and you'll see frescos and plaques that you didn't see the day before. What we didn't know when we were there is that there so much history underneath you! Walking over Roman ruins and you didn't even know it. Apparently one of the restaurants in Piazza Del Erbe (I think) has uncovered some remains in their basement and by law have to take you down there if you as to see it!
It's impossible to get lost in Verona as it's very small and surrounding by either river or wall. This also means that all the sights are within walking distance.
This wall was built to protect Verona. The wall has expanded of nine kilometres and takes up to almost a hundred hectares with its towers, curtains, bastions, earthworks and ditches. Outside the city town wall there are thirty one forts.
This city is small so you can reach all the interesting spots by foot. Grab a map, explore it yourself and enjoy the architecture.
The streets are pintoresque so, they are perfect for pictures. You will find street performers as well as people dressed in nice customs like in the picture.
Over Ponte Scalegeri -or the bridge. I advise it is a monumental waste of time and walking is so far away from other sites get there. It is total ruins and inside was a carnival exhibit for kids. It used to hold the armaments for the military and must have been a site of activity in its time. Nothing major was left of the Arsenal except for the outer facade, which continues to decline. Some vagrant types appear to maybe hang around there, so make sure you feel safe. The direction is on one way to get to SAn Zeno church, though, but that is closed for renovation for what looks like may be a year or more to complete.
There are plenty of tour routes that can be taken to see the dozen or so main features. If you use the map, you can go north toward the bend and then arc back around toward the arena. But over the river is one of the best sites, the Roman theatre and archeological museum.
This small church sometimes is completely unknown to turists coming to Verona for a couple of days, but it deserves a visit. It is coveniently located in the city centre (Corso Porta Bosari), and can be easily included in any walking tours.
It dates back to XII Century but it was damaged in the fire that destroyed Verona in 1172.
Note the renaissance door, sculpted by Gerolamo Giolfino,in the niche there is the fresco by Nicola Giolfino with Saint John on the Island of Patmos.
The Church of St. Lawrence is one of the most beautiful and important churches in Verona. It is built on the site of an Early Christian basilica, some fragments of which are visible from the courtyard.
At the entrance from Corso Cavour you passing under an archway bearing the statue of St. Lawrence.
The church was built about 1117 and soon afterwards considerably enlarged. The exterior is in typical Verona Romanesque style, with alternating bands of brick and stone. The porch on the right and the belltower, which was restored recently, were both built in the second half of the 15th century.
The church has a unique feature, the two cylindrical towers housing the spiral staircase leading up to the women's galleries.
The arena is only the biggest monument left over from Roman times. Especially near the Adige river many traces of the Roman period can be found, even a Roman bridge still today crosses the Adige. Among other buildings there is a Roman theatre, Roman arches - as here for examplethe Porta dei Borsari - and much more in surprisingly good state and often completely integrated into today's Verona, this way showing its 2000 years of history.
Sometimes whilst gazing at a piece of art which the guidebook insists is a "must see", I cant help noticing expressions or gestures which I find funny, and not what the artist intended.
Its worthwhile snapping these up as they will make you smile when you look back on the trip.
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