Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet.
Historical artefacts, splendid squares, aristocratic palaces, bridges and churches, all to be discovered in an unrivalled atmosphere.
The Arena of Verona, the only place in the world where the show starts before it begins.
In the Roman amphitheatre, the Arena – which one must remember that among Roman amphitheatres is second only to the Colosseum – important operas are performed in the summer: Aida, Carmen, Nabucco, to name a few.
Pop music shows are also performed in the Arena. Guests are singers that are most popular at the moment. For all artists – from both Italy and abroad – the Arena of Verona is an essential stop that they cannot miss. Both modern and traditional theatrical plays are performed, as well as modern and classical ballets.
The tradition, when an opera ends, is for each spectator to light a small candle, which they bring especially for this purpose, making the view of this immense grandstand lit by thousands of tiny lights a unique and moving sight.
Quite interesting is also the theatrical summer where, in the perfectly preserved Roman theatre, ballets are performed by leading international ensembles, in addition to plays by Carlo Goldoni (La Locandiera, i Rusteghi, Baruffe Chiozzotte, etc.) and by William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, etc.).
Here, too, the show is unique and exciting, making the artistic performance a true sensory experience.
The show itself, and then you are literally immersed in a theatre that oozes history. Behind you, you can see the Austrian fort, Castel San Pietro, you can hear the background noise of the Adige river flowing just a few steps away, providing, on warm summer nights, a refreshing breeze. And finally the green meadow and cypress trees that surround the spectator.
All of this surrounds and is permeating us, making us one with the environment and the show.
Verona is a city that is full of monuments that are available not only to visit but also to experience.
A significant example is piazza Brà.
You can sit at a table at a bar on the Liston, a large pavement with Verona red marble paving, drinking a refreshing “spritz”, the local aperitif, and take in all the architecture from practically every historical period, from the Roman Arena to the Neoclassical Palazzo della Gran Guardia and the Baroque palaces behind you.
Not to mention the churches. To name but a few:
- The Basilica of San Zeno, with the renowned triptyque by Andrea Mantegna and its bronze doors. In the piazza in front of the basilica, as well as in the nearby streets, every first Sunday of the month there is a traditional antiques market.
- The Basilica of Santa Anastasia, a gorgeous example of Italian Gothic architectural style.
- The Duomo – also known as the Cathedral complex – a group of buildings made up of Sant’Elena, San Giovanni in Fonte, and the canonical cloister.
- The church of San Fermo with frescoes by Pisanello – rare and refined – in Italy an example of the French Gothic architectural style.
Museo Civico di Castelvecchio, the largest and most important museum in Verona, is located in the majestic fortress, built in 1354 by order of Cangrande II della Scala. It is home to artefacts of Lombardic goldsmith work, Paleochristian objects, Medieval weapons and armour, sculptures from the Tenth to the Fourteenth century, and paintings from the Thirteenth to the Seventeenth century.
Archaeological Museum located in front of the Roman Theatre. Here, you can admire mosaics, vases, glass objects and sculptures coming from various necropolises.
Museo Lapidario Maffeiano – ordered by the very famous aristocratic citizen of Verona, follower of the Enlightenment, Marquise Scipione Maffei, in the Seventeenth century. It is the second oldest public museum in Europe. Only the Musei Capitolini in Rome are older. It contains Etruscan, Greek, Roman, Christian and local Paleo-Venetian headstones.
Galleria Achille Forti, gallery of modern art, which is home to wealthy collections belonging to the town municipality. Exhibitions are organised here for internationally renowned artists.
The historical palaces
Palazzo Giadrino Giusti, with its refined garden. A unique Sixteenth century garden in the Italian style. It was designed as the backdrop to Palazzo Giusti. It has terraces, so that the view of the city can be discovered a little at a time as one climbs up, following a specific route. The Belvedere offers one of the most beautiful views of the city of Verona.
Palazzo della Granguardia is a monumental palace that occupies the southern side of the central Piazza Bra. Designed as a defensive building. With a monumental portico. It was used to review the troops in bad weather. In Neoclassical style, it is owned by the Municipality of Verona, and its majestic interiors are used for important exhibitions.
Palazzo Maffei is a majestic example of Baroque style, marking the northern side of Piazza Erbe.
Palazzo Canossa is considered the most beautiful private palace in Verona. A fabulous home which, in the Nineteenth century, accommodated – among others: Zar Alexander, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria.
Palazzo della Ragione, with the stairway of the same name. It gets its name from the fact that it was the location where justice was administered, so citizens, when walking this long and impressive stairway, had plenty of time to think of any wrongdoing and confess their crimes. It is located in the south-eastern corner of Piazza Erbe.
The loggia of Frà Giocondo, located on the northern side of the aristocratic and refined Piazza dei Signori. Built in the Fifteenth century, it is considered the most interesting example of the Renaissance in Verona.
Castel San Pietro is located on a hill, called Torricella, which, as we have mentioned, overlooks the Roman Theatre. Caserma Austriaca [“Austrian Barracks”], which overlooks Verona. You can enter it after climbing a long staircase which, I assure you, is worth the effort because here too you can enjoy a magnificent view of the city.
Verona, over the centuries, was defended by rows of walls.
The oldest is the Roman wall, which encloses the historic centre. The gates that gave access to the city are still visible and intact: Porta Leoni, and Porta Borsari.
The second, the municipal one, was entirely destroyed, but signs of it remain on the doors of Brà and Castel Vecchio. This fortress was built by the Lords of Verona, the Della Scala, to defend the city and to defend themselves against the city.
Finally, the walls built by the Venetians, later used by the Austrians, with monumental gates: Porta Vescovo, Porta Nuova, Porta Palio, Porta San Zeno, Porta San Giorgio.
Vinitaly and Fieracavalli
Important international trade fairs are held in Verona.
In the period when these two events are held, throughout Verona there is an exciting air of glamour.
Speaking of Verona, one cannot forget to mention the real reason this city is known all over the world, and the reason, as everyone knows, is just one: Juliet.
Fortunately for our city, Shakespeare set his most successful tragedy in Verona, and the response to the play was so significant that Verona has been referred to as the city of love ever since.
The places that, according to legend, were the scenes of this unfortunate love story are: Romeo’s house, Juliet’s tomb, and Juliet’s house.
At number 23 of Via Cappello, which is the extension of Via Mazzini, the central shopping street, there is a house traditionally said to be the house where Juliet lived. A massive wrought iron gate, bearing the crest of the Cappello family, separates the famous courtyard from the public street.
And this is the place where lovers from all over and of all ages, when visiting, leave proof of their own love.
I believe that everyone should visit this place, even if it is just to see the crowds of visitors which, every day, come to visit this place which, by now, belongs only to a legend.