Verona is a city with a population of 250 thousand people, known for its long and bloody history. The inhabitants of Verona are proud that more than 200 years ago, on Easter Monday, they drove out the French invaders. The German writer Goethe and the French writers Stendhal and Valerie included Verona in their travel diaries. Roman emperor Julius Caesar spent a lot of time in Verona, admiring its sights.
Verona boasts a rather impressive collection of sights of the Roman era. Let’s start with the Roman amphitheater – the third largest in Italy. This building, 140 meters long and 110 meters wide, accommodated up to 25,000 spectators on 44 rows of marble benches. While only fragments remained from the outer walls, the inner part was almost completely preserved. Fairs are often held in this building, theatrical performances and operas are staged, as well as other social events, especially in the summer.
The Roman theater, built in the first century BC, was eventually transformed into a residential area, but in the eighteenth century, the houses were demolished and the place was restored to its former status. Nearby you will find the Ponte di Pietra (stone bridge) – a Roman arched bridge connecting the banks of the Adige River, the construction of which was completed in 100 BC. During the Second World War, the retreating German troops destroyed four arches, but in 1957 the bridge was rebuilt using the original materials.
Be sure to also see the Arco dei Gavi (Arch of Gavi), built in the first century, above the main road leading to the city. Try to find the signature of an architect – a rarity for our time. French troops destroyed this arch in 1805, and it was restored only in 1932.
Porta Borsari is the arched passage at the end of Corso Porta Borsari, the facade of the gate built in the third century within the ancient Roman walls of the city. This street is surrounded by several Renaissance palaces. Porta Leoni (Gate of Leoni) – the remains of the Roman city gate, built in the first century BC. Some of them were built into the wall of a medieval building. The remains of an ancient Roman street and the base of the gate are slightly below the modern level of the street.
The Romanesque basilica of San Zeno Maggiore, built in the twelfth century, is a real masterpiece. It is built on the crypt of St. Zeno, the first bishop of Verona. The majestic bell tower of the basilica seventy-two meters high was honored with mention in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The doorway and the inner bronze door are decorated with numerous biblical scenes and events from the life of St. Zeno. The walls are decorated with frescoes dating back to the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. In the vaulted crypt is the tomb of St. Zeno, as well as the graves of other saints.
The small but beautiful Basilica of San Lorenzo, made in the Romanesque style and dating to the twelfth century, was built on the site of the Paleochristian church, some fragments of which have survived to this day. The huge antique church of St. Mary, executed in the Romanesque style and dating back to the eighth century, was the parish church of the Scaliger family, which ruled Verona for many centuries. Many of the Scaligere family members are buried in the complex. Some of the graves are quite unique and deserve special attention.
The cathedral, made in the Romanesque style and dating back to the twelfth century, was built on the site of two Paleochristian churches destroyed by an earthquake. On this territory there is also an unfinished bell tower dating back to the sixteenth century. Do not forget to look at the chapel decorated with Titian.
The church of St. Anastasia, built in the fifteenth century, is the largest church building, the interior decoration of which is considered the most elegant example of Italian Gothic architecture. The construction of this magnificent building lasted about two hundred years. The frescoes and hunchback statues serving for the distribution of holy water attract the most attention of tourists. It is believed that touching the humpback hump brings good luck.
San Fermo Maggiore (San Fermo Maggiore) is actually two churches. This is a low church resembling a grave made in the Roman style dating back to the eighth century, and a huge high Gothic church built in the fourteenth century, known for its ceiling decorated with images of four hundred saints. Of course, in Verona there are still churches worthy of attention, but now we recall the castles and palaces.
Castelvecchio (Old Castle) was built in the fourteenth century on the banks of the Adige River near Ponte Scaligero (Scaliger Bridge) most likely on the site of a Roman fortress. Built to defend against foreign invaders and internal uprisings, it included a fortified bridge, in case their owners would have to flee north to join the allies in Tyrol. The original castle over time was subject to numerous reconstructions and restoration.