VERONA: IN THE CITY OF LOVE, YOU WILL BE MORE THAN WELCOME
In case you were wondering about the five things to see in Verona, I’ll let the famous writer Charles Dickens speak:
“Pleasant Verona! With its beautiful old palaces, and charming country in the distance, seen from terrace walks, and stately, balustraded galleries. With its Roman gates, still spanning the fair street, and casting, on the sunlight of to-day, the shade of fifteen hundred years ago. With its marble-fitted churches, lofty towers, rich architecture, and quaint old quiet thoroughfares, where shouts of Montagues and Capulets once resounded.”
In a few words, this incredible giant of literature described all the things that only Verona can give. I guess you would like to know as more as possible about this city… Then, did you know that you can travel here even with a coach guided tour?
I know, maybe you don’t want to visit only the touristic places. Don’t worry: this tour is exactly what you need to discover the history hiding among the alleys of the city centre.
What you can experience here is something unique. That’s why Verona is considered the first of the places to visit near Lake Garda.
Consequently, this is the reason why the tour leaves from both of the sides of the lake, every week! What are you going to see? Well, keep reading.
We’re talking about my beloved city. For this reason, I will try to give you a synthetic description, in only five points, of all the masterpieces you will explore in your trip.
There are many reasons why Verona is so special. First of all, because of the international recognition as the one and only city of love in Italy. For that, we have to remind the brilliant William Shakespeare. He chose Verona as the main setting for his “Romeo and Juliet” story, a tragedy that you certainly know.
If you have decided to visit this city with your sweetheart, there is an incredible number of romantic landscapes and activities you will remember forever. Either for a little day-trip, a romantic weekend or a holiday, Verona will always give you some memories to keep in your heart for life.
NOT ONLY SHAKESPEARE
Beside the romanticism, Verona is also famous for being the absolute protagonist of more and more excellencies.
First of all, the music.
We must not forget that every year inside the Arena the Opera Festival takes place, attracting thousands and thousands of passionate ones. But it’s not over yet.
This place has been the stage for a lot of famous shows, as the musical written and directed by the greatest Riccardo Cocciante, Notre Dame de Paris.
Furthermore, in the Arena a lot of other shows beloved by Italian people have been born, such as the “Festivalbar” and the “Music Awards”.
Last but not least, Verona has been declared as a part of the Unesco Heritage sites since 2000. Art, history, culture and food: here, people live and move through streets full of flavours and tradition. Yeah, exactly: flavours. You won’t be enchanted only by a “love is in the air” feeling. In Verona, food also tastes so good.
FLAVOURS OF VERONESE TRADITION
Let’s start with my favourite one: the “Lesso con la Pearà.” If you come to Verona, you must not leave without trying this delicious meal. In case you are wondering, the “pearà” is a sauce that garnishes boiled meat. The name comes from “pear”, meaning pepper, one of the recipe ingredients. There are different types of pearà. Some people love to put the chili, grandmas are used to put bone marrow in order to make it tastier.
One thing’s for sure: the cooking time has to be the same! In fact, pearà takes hours and hours, but trust me, it’s totally worth it.
Another special meal is the famous Risotto with Tastasal. The tastasal is a local sausage paste made with pork, cooked and then combined in little pieces with rice. The traditional one is from Isola della Scala: can you taste this creamy risotto melting in your mouth?
Every year, in this town, there is a famous Rice Fair, where you can sample many different toppings, tastasal included of course!
Are you a fish lover? Verona has something also for you.
Obviously, the fish comes directly from the near Lake Garda: I am going to tell you two of the best ones. “Bigoli con le Sarde”, usually eaten during the Lent, and the “Luccio e Polenta”. The Bigoli is a special homemade pasta: have you ever heard of spaghetti? Bigoli are a bigger version!
Secondly, the Luccio, in English “pike”, is one of the most appreciated fishes from Lake Garda. Its delicate taste, combined with the traditional Polenta, is an explosion of feelings. Did you know that Polenta was the food of the poor? Nevertheless, today, nobody in Verona could ever live without.
You think that’s enough? Well, this place to visit ok Lake Garda has many more typical meals.
Let’s keep going with two particular savoury recipes celebrating two different types of meat. At first, the “Pastisada de Caval”. This stew horsemeat is very tender and delicious as well, thanks to the long cooking time.
In all the North Italy, you also may find the “Polenta e Osei”. Even if it is typical of the city of Bergamo, also Verona has recreated its version, with birds cooked on a spit, garnished by polenta.
Then, we’re about to discover the real heart of the Veronese food, envied by the whole world. Maybe you are beginning to understand that, besides the five things to see in Verona, this city has also an excellent cuisine.
Especially in Carnival time, local people are used to eat “Gnocchi di Patate”. On Friday, in dialect called “Venerdì Gnocolar”, it is an absolute tradition to enjoy this handmade meal. Gnocchi are usually cooked with tomato sauce and some grana cheese, but you can also try the sage butter version.
At my home, we usually have gnocchi with butter, grana cheese, cinnamon and sugar. I am sure once you have tried them, you could never have enough of them.
Moving away from the city and discovering the Veronese territory, you will be surprised by other two exquisite excellences. Only made with local ingredients of such a quality. I am talking about the famous “Risotto all’Amarone”, a prestigious international wine from Valpolicella and the homemade “Tortellini di Valeggio”.
If you love local food traditions as I do, check the related article. You will also discover what to see in this amazing place to visit on Lake Garda.
For a sweet happy-ending, this Christmas try the special Veronese Pandoro. It’s a typical dessert for Christmas time; its original name was “Pan de oro”. In English, it means “bread of gold”. Now, you can find it in every home here in Italy. This product has born thanks to the baker Domenico Melegatti, who gave his name to the homonymous corporate. Now, another pandoro loved by Italian people is the Bauli one. However, it doesn’t matter of which brand, pandoro is always good. Especially if you share it with someone you love.
VIEWPOINTS IN VERONA
Before switching to the five things to see in Verona, aren’t you curious to discover two of the best viewpoints in the city of love? Verona isn’t standing there just to be seen, but moreso to be photographed. Have you got any idea of the endless number of pictures you could take, walking through this marvelous place?
Once you will be coming back at home, smiling, you will look again at these wonderful pictures and remember the time you spent here.
Let’s start with the first point: “Castel San Pietro”, as it is known by the inhabitants. Actually, the building we see today, located on the hill behind the Roman Theatre, is a military fortress erected by Austrians on the ruins of a previous fortress. However, the origins are dating back to the Iron Age, when on the top of the hill people had discovered ancient settlements. Then, the Romans began to build a fort, to defend Ponte Pietra (once upon a time called Ponte Marmoreus).
In the Middle Age, it became a castrum, with the attachment of the Church of San Pietro. At the very end, in the XIV century, the Visconti Dynasty turned it into a manor. Thanks to the raised location, you will enjoy a wonderful view on all the historical centre of Verona: highly recommended! When the sun is up, and the sky is cloudless, your eyes will be able to see until the Arena, Castelvecchio and so on. Standing right under your feet, there will be the Adige river. Can you feel the water flowing slowly at sunset? How relaxing…
The other viewpoint to visit is located in the Sanctuary of Madonna di Lourdes. This massive sanctuary stands on the San Leonardo Hill: here, a secret story is waiting to be heard…
Dating back to 1838, on the top of the hill there was the fort of San Leonardo, built by Massimiliano of Austria. At the beginning, the sanctuary was a part of the “Stimate” complex, in the Cittadella area. Suddenly, it collapsed because of a bomb, on the April of 1945.
The Virgin Mary Statue, miraculously, remained unharmed: this is why it was decided to turn the fort into a sanctuary.
Going inside, you can admire stunning bas-reliefs and precious canvases. Anyway, the best part is the view! From the huge balcony surrounding all the sanctuary, a breath-taking landscape will be the gift for you choosing to visit this spiritual place. It will be just you and Verona, at its best.
This sanctuary is also the protagonist of a mysterious legend, known only by a few local people… Verona, place to visit on Lake Garda, is not only the setting for Romeo and Juliet’s story.
The legend is about a miracle that took place right here, in this sanctuary. It is told that a woman, struggling because of a terrible ischial disease, began to feel depressed. Every day she was used to come to the water spring of the sanctuary, praying the Virgin.
Waking up one day, she felt it was getting worse. As her last prayer, she wanted the bishop to bless her, at the church. The bishop did exactly what she asked for and, just a few seconds after, she was healed…A true miracle!
VERONA & SURROUNDINGS
I think that you already know among the things to see around Verona that the first one is the wonderful Lake Garda. The Lake Garda is the biggest lake in Italy, where you’ll be able to find a lot of enchanting landscapes, seasonal activities, and more! Culture, history, traditions and delicious gastronomy. It sounds like the place of many people’s dreams…
Around Verona, you can find everything you could wish for. I’m serious! There isn’t only the lake over there, but also the splendid Morainic Hills and high mountains. The Monte Baldo is the most famous one, but there are also the Carega, the entire Lessinia with the Valdonega, including the Valpolicella area. Excursions, sports, relax, breath-taking views and more. We must not forget that Verona is the home for some of the most appreciated wines of the world, too.
And yet, thermal parks to relax yourself and theme parks for living your best life with family or friends. Concluding, another forte of Verona is her location. The city is well linked with the other main ones, thanks to highways, railways and the Airport Catullo. Choose the way you prefer: all roads take to Verona. From here, you could reach a lot of beautiful places, such as Venezia, Milano, Bologna or Bolzano in only 2 hours or less.
The final curiosity about Verona is that the city is the place of birth of three important people. The Renaissance architect Michele Sanmicheli, the author of Sandokan novels, Emilio Salgari and the inventor of the first real car.
YOUR PERSONAL GUIDE TO THE FIVE THINGS TO SEE IN VERONA
Finally, we have come to the point. Maybe you’re feeling like you have already discovered everything, but I have not begun yet. Do you have paper and pen? Until now, it was only about suggestions… By now, instead, you must not forget anything I will tell you…Let’s get started!
1. The Arena, Piazza Bra and Via Mazzini
The Arena is the symbol of Verona and one of the major examples of a perfect architecture in Italy. The Roman amphitheater is located in the historical centre, perfectly saved, giving you some glimpses from the past. Going inside, you could feel as a Roman empress or a fearless gladiator…
However, the Arena is not only the symbol of the city but also of the Lyric Festival. In fact, every year, thousands and thousands of people come to Verona especially for this reason… Did you know that the first festival took place in 1913? Since then, the music has been the absolute protagonist of the summer in Verona. But also, the spring and autumn seasons have been enlightened by a lot of national and international stars.
When was the Arena built?
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been found the right answer yet, because of the lack of written sources. Some experts said that the building process has taken place from the I to the III century. Otherwise, the historian Pirro Marconi has suggested about locating that in the I century, at the beginning of Tiberian Era.
The enigma hasn’t been solved yet, but the technical resemblance with the Amphitheatre of Pola suggests that the two belong to the same period.
Most of all, the Arena is the best-preserved amphitheater of the entire world. That’s why it is on the top of the list of the five things to see in Verona.
Are you sure to know anything about this architecture model?
Let’s start firstly with the centre, where the shows used to be played, to arrive until the auditorium. There, there are the steps on which the public usually enjoyed the performances. It’s interesting to know that once the steps used to be separated from the arena by a podium. While the auditorium was divided into different sections through some walkaways.
On the outside, in front of Via Mazzini, you will notice that the amphitheater was surrounded by another structure, the original façade. Unluckily, under the Teodorico Reign (493 – 526 A. D.) most of the external structure has been destroyed, in order to create another city wall. At today, we can only see a little part of that, called the “Ala”.
Among the places to visit on Lake Garda, Verona is on the top of the list not only because of the Arena. There are many more interest points to see! At first, let’s explore together the main square where the Arena is located.
Piazza Brà welcomes local inhabitants and international visitors every day. It is the biggest square of the entire Verona, but it hasn’t been always like that! It was about during the VI century that the architect Michele Sanmicheli managed to define the western side.
The name “Piazza Brà” comes from the Italian word “braida”, ancient “breit”, that means “large”. Turning around by 360° you will be able to admire all the things hiding around this square. Starting from “Palazzo Barbieri”, the townhall, let’s turn a little bit on the right. What you are looking at is the marvelous “Palazzo della Gran Guardia”.
On its right side, two arches and an impressive clock. Well, I’m sure you didn’t know that this one is standing there from 1872! Following in that direction, here it is the Liston: it was opened in 1770 and paved in 1782. One of the favorite places to have a walk or have a taste of the traditional cuisine. At the end, there will be the beginning of Via Mazzini. We must not forget that Piazza Brà is a very requested location during the year for a lot of events, especially on Christmas. Some of them are the Saint Lucia markets, the giant comet coming out from the Arena and the International Exhibition of Nativities under the arches.
In case you are wondering how to reach it when you arrive from Lake Garda, it’s very easy. Piazza Brà is the last stop of the bus lines that link Verona to the lake. Moreover, in front of the square there are many taxis and local buses going to and back from the train station.
Before moving on, one last thing: there are a few points where you can have some water in the warmest days. Plus, in the centre, there is a big fountain surrounded by green plants, blessing you with some fresh air. I should not have to say it, but it’s forbidden to have a bath there. Many tourists seem not to know that…
We are ready to move to the second wonderful thing of this place to visit near Lake Garda. Before starting, let me just say something about the main street, via Mazzini.
Via Mazzini is a long and a narrow alley: in the past, its original name was Via Nuova. I’m sure that at least once you could have seen the street on the TV or social media…it’s always so busy, am I right? This is why we call it the “street of shopping”, connecting Piazza Brà to Piazza delle Erbe. The first part of the alley is very similar to the Roman Decumanus archetype. The second one derives from the wrecking of some medieval buildings standing there. Once satisfied of your personal shopping, you will arrive at the end of Via Mazzini. On the left there will be, the magnificent Piazza delle Erbe, and on the right, Via Cappello.
The last one: in the past, there was the ancient Roman cardo leading to Porta Leoni, built in the I century and made with white stone. In the same period, it was also built the Roman Forum. Walking down this alley, you can admire the impressive Civic Library of Verona and the famous House of Juliet.
2. Juliet’s House and Tomb
It is at the 23rd of Via Cappello that you’ll find the second symbol of Verona: Juliet’s House. It is told that this used to be the house where the Capulet family lived. Standing there, the most famous balcony of all the Europe, and maybe of the world as well. Your welcome will be an impressive wrought iron gate: following that, you will walk on the brightening home yard. In front of you, the celebrated bronze statue representing Juliet. You could stop and touch her right breast, a gesture that is said to be a lucky charm. However, this is not the real one. The original statue has been moved inside the House of Juliet, in order to keep it safe.
If admiring the Shakespeare’s Balcony isn’t enough, I suggest you visiting Juliet’s House! A real museum, where Del Cappello Family has lived until the XIII century. Then, I think you have already understood why this road has this name. Is it just a coincidence that the surname of the family is very similar to the Capulet’s? Who knows, maybe Shakespeare knew perfectly what was happening in Verona at that time…
“There’s a place in Verona where the broken-hearted send their message to Juliet”. If you are in love with romantic films, you will certainly remember this sentence from the film Letters to Juliet (2010).
It is because of this film that many people have discovered Juliet’s Club, located in this place to visit on lake Garda. Let’s see what is about!
How beautiful are the hand-written letters…Now, with the telephones and the other stuff, it has become only a memory…but not for Juliet!
Every year, thousands and thousands of lovers in the world write to the Shakespearean character sweet letters. Then, the Juliet’s Club answer to each of them. Anyway, letters aren’t only written by someone with a broken heart! The first love, a new relationship, past love stories… but also, in case you need an advice, the club is ready to give you suggestions and reassurance. And all the letters are signed with “Juliet”, of course!
Anyway, who are these people? They are called Secretaries, but they are only romantic volunteers with the passion of writing. It doesn’t matter who will be the one answering you, the letter you will receive back will be as lovely as the others.
The club was born in 1972 thanks to a brilliant idea of Giulio Tamassia and a group of both intellectuals and artists. Actually, the first sent letter dates back to 1930. During that year, the keeper of Juliet’s Tomb, Ettore Solimani, began to answer to the tender letters left by the visitors to Juliet. Then, officially, he has been the first Secretary of Juliet.
Currently, this tradition is famous all over the world, thanks to the film Letters to Juliet too. That’s also why Verona has become the city of love.
“’ll bury thee in a triumphant grave… A grave? Oh no! a lantern, slaughter’d youth! (…)For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes This vault a feasting presence full of light”
– William Shakespeare
Among the five things to see in Verona, besides Juliet’s House, there is her Tomb. Easy to reach, the grave is located in the underground near to the cloister of ex San Francesco’s Convent. Even if it is just an empty sarcophagus in red marble, every year many visitors take some time to honor the young Capulet lady. Therefore, in this place, you can also visit the “Museo degli Affreschi of G. Cavalcaselle”. It’s a museum dedicated to the historian and critic of art Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle, who has lived during the XIX century. The exhibition includes his art works and some frescos of the “Grotta dei Santi Nazaro and Celso”. One of the most ancient chapels located around Verona.
There are also a few curiosities about this nostalgic place to visit on Lake Garda. Keep reading…
In that period, who committed suicide couldn’t have an excellent burial. That’s why the church authorities tried to cover the “scandal”… How? They exhumed the tomb, turning it in a recipient for the well water. Poor Juliet, an injustice.
It’s so sad that her heartbreaking story did not lead to nothing but disrespect for her grave.
The tomb was so neglected that the writer Charles Dickens has defined it a “watering hole”. Before him, also George Byron has descripted Juliet’s Tomb as “sad, as it was her love”. Moreover, the princess Maria Luisa of Austria stole some stone fragments to use them for some jewels…
Now, we are lucky that a lot of people come to visit the tomb. Nobody would ever think about ignoring that as it was done in the past.
3. The bridges: Ponte Scaligero and Ponte Pietra
The city of love, as we know, is crossed by Adige river. Then, I couldn’t not choose to include some bridges in the five things to see in Verona. Do you believe me if I say that they are too many to be written about? Then, I have chosen for you two of the best ones, the most picturesque.
PONTE SCALIGERO AND THE CASTLE
The first bridge I have chosen for you is Castelvecchio Bridge, also called “Ponte Scaligero” because of the period of the building process. An impressive symbol of the military engineering, longer than 100 meters, commissioned by Cangrande II della Scala in 1355.
This magnificent crenelated – three arches bridge upon the river starts from the keep tower, located in the center of the medieval fortress.
Once, you could cross the bridge only by the yard of the castle. After 1870, a new arch had been opened near the clock tower, to aim people walking from one side to another.
Unluckily, German soldiers have destroyed the ancient bridge, during the Second World War in 1945. After that, thankfully, the bridge has been rebuilt using only the original stones, recovered from the river.
Castelvecchio is the medieval fortress, by the way. Wanted by the prince Cangrande della Scala II, it is now recognized as another important symbol of Verona. The castle’s name was originally “Castello di San Martino in Aquaro”. Then, when Visconti built Castle of San Pietro, they gave to Castelvecchio the name it has today.
This ancient castle is composed of crenelated walls and seven covered towers, divided by the royal palace “Reggia degli Scaligeri”. In any spot inside the castle you will be able to see the impressive keep tower, from which the bridge begins, and a beautiful yard. Here, almost in the centre, there is an original fountain with the resemblance of a dog, symbol of loyalty.
Moreover, the castle hosts the Civic Museum of Verona, exhibiting wonderful pieces of medieval, renaissance and modern art. Here, you will visit 29 halls, about 622 works of art, closets and photo libraries, and maybe some temporary exhibitions. Leaving from Castelvecchio, another very ancient monument awaits you. I’m talking about the Arco dei Gavi. A triumphal arch made with white stone, built in the I century on the original Via Postumia by the homonymous family.
Want to know more about this piece of the military history of this place to visit on Lake Garda? Then, follow me.
In the past, this arch welcomed everyone coming to Verona from the west south.
Despite its shape, we’re not talking about the similar one in Paris! This is a commemorative monument… Celebrating the rich and important family of the Imperial Verona, called Gens Gavia. Moreover, the arch was the symbol of the new urban area in that period.
Beside this monument, you may find also some graveyards. During the Medieval Age, the arch was englobed by the city walls, but it was destroyed by Napoleon’s army at the end of 1700. It was only in 1930 that the Arco dei Gavi was built again, even if not in the original place. Anyway, as the same as Castelvecchio Bridge, who led the building process did not forget to use the original stones.
PONTE PIETRA AND THE ROMAN THEATRE
At the third place of the five things to see in Verona we have the famous “Ponte Pietra”, built by Romans in the I century. The bridge was originally called in latin Pons Lapideus. Once you are here, if you take 2 minutes you will understand that the monument isn’t aligned with any of the other city roads. It is interesting to know that after that it was built a second bridge, perfectly aligned with the Via Postumia. Anyway, this one doesn’t exist anymore probably because of a flood of the river.
With the typical shape of a humpback with five big arches, the bridge was built by square blocks of Roman white stones. Because of several damages, the two arches on the right were rebuilt in the Scaligeri period with bricks. The same for the central arch in 1500. How a pity it was that German soldiers mined all the bridges of the town to slow down the enemy army, during the war. Only the left arch was saved, and even if people tried to recover some parts, most of them were too damaged to be used. Again, thanks to a great job, the bridge was entirely rebuilt, respecting each past Age: the Roman, the Medieval and the Venetian.
Today, you can cross Ponte Pietra by walk: from there, you can enjoy an amazing panoramic view of the river. You may also spot the Castle of San Pietro and the fascinating Roman Theatre.
I’m going to give you some curiosities right about this place to visit on Lake Garda.
Dating back to the end of the I century, the Roman Theatre is one of the biggest ancient theatre of North Italy. The building process followed an old Greek technique, exploiting the natural slope of San Pietro Hill. During the Roman period, there were several rules for the urban planning. Time after time, those rules passed, and the theatre has begun to be surrounded by inhabitations, a church and a convent.
Thanks to the doctor Andrea Monga, fond of archeology, the theatre has been brought to light again, even if it took several efforts and attempts. It was decided to leave there only the Church of San Siro and Libera. Looking up the steps, is still standing right there where it was built. A little bit on the left, you will be able to see the Convent of Gesuiti, overlooking from above the theatre. Inside the convent, there is the Archeological Museum, with the artifacts discovered thanks to the excavations. If you decide to visit it during the summer, you could also enjoy one of the numerous concerts of Verona Jazz Festival. Or you may attend a show of Veronese Summer Theatre.
4. The squares: Piazza Erbe, Piazza dei Signori, Cortile Mercato Vecchio
Piazza delle Erbe is the ancient Roman Forum: it has always been a meeting place for the inhabitants. The squares included in the five things to see in Verona are the typical places where to have a break or to meet some friends.
Piazza delle Erbe is the one and only enchanting scenario where enjoy these kinds of things. Surrounding the square, a lot of monuments, elegant palaces… Anyone is coming to Verona, knows that this square has to be seen. Every guided visit in Verona includes a stop here, also the Coach Tour I told you before, of course.
Let’s explore some history. I’m sure that we both know the typical Roman urban pattern… In case you don’t remember, you have just to learn that they used to build a city on a square plan, surrounded by walls. Then, the scheme was characterized by both perpendicular and parallel roads, in a regular way. The two main ones were Cardo Massimo and Decumano Massimo, crossing exactly at the centre of the plan, to give life at the Forum. The Forum was the real heart of the society and the most important square where took place the market exchanges and the religious ceremonies. Even if 2000 years have passed the Forum is still standing there… Today is known as Piazza delle Erbe.
One of the best things of Verona is that anywhere you go, you can find some history, especially many archeological artifacts. In this case, in Piazza delle Erbe, you have to check underground, three meters below the street. Are you wondering what could ever hide here? It’s not a secret of course, but I invite you to discover it by yourself: there are a few ruins of ancient buildings.
Firstly, inside the cellar of a prestigious restaurant located here, you may see some columns of an old temple. Under another famous venue, you will find a few artifacts of a curia, a church, and a Roman paved road. Also, the basement of a mediaeval tower. Lastly, under one of the bars on the long side of the square, you can admire the original pave of stone of the Roman Forum. Here, you may spot the old gutter and numerous ruins of the porch.
PIAZZA DEI SIGNORI
Two squares, near to each other: how is it possible that they have so many differences? If Piazza delle Erbe is typically Italian, Piazza dei Signori is one very different thing. Harmonious, aristocratic and quiet. The name of the square derives from the Signoria of Scaligeri: in the Middle Age, their court was hosted inside Piazza dei Signori.
Then, come with me! We will discover the hidden treasures of this place included in the must-to-do list of the five things to see in Verona.
Piazza dei Signori is easy to reach. You have just to move away from Piazza delle Erbe, walking through the arch called “Arco della Costa”. The arch is located between the thirteen – century palace, the townhall, and the Domus Nova. On the other hand, another option could be walk along a little alley, crossing the space between Case Mazzanti.
A marble plaque characterizes the “Volto Barbaro”, remembering the assassination attempt on 26 October of 1277 to Mastino I of Scaligeri.
Coming here from Via della Costa, you will find, on the right, the ancient “Palazzo della Ragione” and the Scaliger “Palazzo di Cansignorio”.
At the bottom of the square, there is a special monument, dedicated to Dante Alighieri. It was built in 1865 to celebrate the sixth centenary of the poet’s birth. Why has been the statue located here?
When Dante was exiled from his Florence, he was gently hosted in Verona. The monument is made of marble, three meters high; supported by a big pedestal. As a statue, Dante is turning his back to Via delle Fogge, looking towards Palazzo di Cansignorio. As always, remember to take a lot of pictures!
Want to know more about the palaces of this city? Don’t worry, I haven’t finished yet…There’s still a lot of things you need to know about this place to visit on lake Garda. Keep reading!
The façade of “Palazzo di Cangrande” is the most impressive one, adorned with a Renaissance portal, remembering the Roman triumphal arches. The architect Sanmicheli realized it during the X century: on the portal, a winged lion, symbol of Serenissima. Therefore, the façade is structured with a round arch, supported by four Ionic columns. It is decorated with the emblems of intercolumniations and, in the corners, with a few images of winged Victories.
At the left of the palace is located the “Loggia di Fra Giocondo”. Dating back to the end of the XV century, it regularly hosted the Illustrious Citizen’s Council. In the past, the Council, the Capitanian and the Major ruled together the city. For sure, we can say that the lodge is the most splendid and capable Renaissance artwork of Verona of that period. The polychromies of marbles, the elegance of the stone basement lodge and the main floor rich of medals are located on a gold background. These are only a few of all the details giving this place a special recognition.
The statues located on the top represent some of the most important Veronese people of the Roman period. On the arch of via delle Fogge instead, there is the doctor Girolamo Fracastoro. If you pay attention, he’s holding something with his hands… something like a sphere. It is told, accordingly with a popular belief, that this sphere will fall down only when a pure honest man will walk through the arch. Even if years and years had passed, the sphere is still there.
The arch also connects the lodge with “Casa della Pietà”, an anonymous building, today private property. Dating back to the Scaliger period, it has been renovated at the end of the XV century.
A particular bas-relief of the façade is characterized by a lady sitting down, holding a flag in her hand. There, it is written: “Fide et Charitate in aeternum non deficiam”. That woman represents Verona, feeling proud and safe thanks to the protection given by the Serenissima. Here’s a secret: at the ground floor, you will find one of the most ancient cafés of the town.
Closing the square, the adjacent Domus Nova, also called “Casa dei Giudici”. Over the centuries, this building was an important place with political and administrative functions. Both office and home of the Major, seat of the Citizens Councils, dwell for the judges of the Serenissima. The Domus, unexpectedly collapsed, was rebuilt during the XVI century and then renovated. Now it is a restaurant, where you can sit and admire all the beauty surrounding this place.
It’s not over yet. You’re about to discover the story of another place to visit near Lake Garda.
Firstly, coming back to Piazza dei Signori, in a corner near Palazzo di Cansignorio, you may spot the small Church of Santa Maria Antica. This Romanic religious place was particularly loved by Della Scala family. In fact, inside the church, there is a sarcophagus of Cangrande della Scala, a powerful member of the dynasty. The inside is both austere and basilical. All the structure is divided into three big naves, supported by two series of seven columns made of red stone. The square capitals and the raised arches end in as many small apses, elaborated in the thickness of the wall. Furthermore, the side apses are decorated with alternating bands of red brick and tuff. In the central one there are some fragments of fourteenth-century frescos instead.
Secondly, near to a wrought iron gate, there’s one of the most suggestive sites of the city: the Scaliger Arches. The site is a small private cemetery, as scenic as monumental, preserving the first Signori’s graves of Verona. Among them, there are also the monumental tombs of Cangrande, Mastino II and Cansignorio; with their sculpture picturing them on a horse ride.
CORTILE MERCATO VECCHIO
Among the five things to see in Verona, you must not forget to give a look at Palazzo della Ragione, now a museum. Symbol of Verona, it was built in the last years of the XII century, where were located the municipal ministers. Once, the palace resembled the fortified buildings of that period, defended by four impressive corner towers.
A small arch on the right will take you to “Cortile del Mercato Vecchio”, a yard that once has been the place for the city market.
Here stands the marmoreal “Scala della Ragione”, connected with the Tribunal. A hidden entrance below the staircase takes to the famous Torre dei Lamberti. If you’re wondering how to reach the top, the answer is: it depends. Do you like walking? Then, it won’t be a problem for you to do “a few” stairs… The other option is always the elevator.
Built in the XII century, the tower has been elevated more and more, several times.
Now, it’s the highest tower of Verona…maybe you have already seen it in some postcards or souvenir! Torre dei Lamberti seems to watch over the square, looking after at the people working there. From the panoramic belfry, an amazing view of the historical centre will make you remember that the climb was totally worth it.
The name of the tower derives from the powerful family, whose desire was exactly to realize this impressive construction. Why not reach the top, 84 meters high and enjoy in a different way this place to visit near to Lake Garda?
5. The churches: Duomo, San Zeno, San Fermo and Sant’Anastasia
THE DUOMO OF VERONA
Even if the place where it is located is small and unwelcome, Duomo of Verona is the most beautiful church of the city. A real treasure: extremely harmonious and higher of the other inhabitations, it was built on an antecedent Christian Basilique. Then, it was sanctified in 1187 by Papa Urbano II, then dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta. The Duomo is absolutely the icing on the cake among the five things to see in Verona.
During history, there were several improvements, in order to make it bigger and shaping the structure in the best way. In the mid-fifteenth century the church was amplified, elevating the naves and inserting late Gothic elements on the façade. Consequently, during the XVI century, the architect Michele Sanmicheli surrounded the apsis with a splendid Tornaco, planning the project of the bell tower. Firstly, in 1880, the pavement was renewed in marble and then, in 1913, the construction began again, completing the bell tower.
The façade, tripartite with triangular buttresses, is a fusion of Gothic and Romanesque. An architecture full of colors, dominated by the magnificent porch in two levels.
Below, twisted columns and winged gryphons support it. Above, it is proposed again the round arch, surmounted by a tympanum with arches resting on eight columns. The portal is carved with prophets and animals’ images. There is also a lunette depicting the Virgin with her Child, surrounded by the Magi and the Shepherds.
The solemn interior and the depth of the central nave will take your breath away, while entering. Keep reading to let yourself dream about this wonderful place to visit near Lake Garda.
Inside the church, there are three naves with cross vaults and five spans divided by eight elaborate marble columns. In the sides, there are four chapels on each one, with the two larger that make the short arm of a cross.
Wherever you will turn your eyes, there will be only art works. From the chapels to the altars, the frescos, the semicircular tornacoro with polychrome marbles, the crucifix in bronze of the presbytery. Inside Nichesola Chapel is located a fascinating altarpiece of the Assumption, made by Tiziano. It’s the only one art work of the famous painter kept in Verona. Luckily, the picture returned home, in Verona, after it was stolen by the French in 1797, during the Napoleonic period. From the inside, you can enter also in the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Fonte. It’s about a little Longobards church, with delicate frescos and a splendid XII century baptismal font, an authentic masterpiece of Veronese and Romanesque sculpture.
Adjacently, the small Church of Sant’Elena. Renewed in the XII, it preserves an interesting archeological area with the artifacts of a church dating back to the Christian period. The Canonici Cloister and the Canonical Museum are parts of the Cathedral as well.
SAN ZENO CHURCH
One of the most important building of the city is the Basilica of San Zeno, a Romanic masterpiece. One of the five things to see in Verona for sure. The church is dedicated to the eighth bishop of Verona, San Zeno, also patron of the city. Local people do celebrate this saint, of African origin, because of his many miracles. Moreover, the saint himself was able to convert to the Christian Religion most of the Venetian population.
After many improvements, at the end of the first millennium, the church came to be as it is today. Particularly, a devastating earthquake damaged the city of Verona in 1117. After that, the church was enlarged, becoming a Basilica with three naves, as many as the apses.
The big circular rose window on the façade is what gives to San Zeno Church her uniqueness. The artist Brioloto realized it: the rose is decorated with six statues representing some important moments of the life of human beings. Look at the man sitting on the throne. Firstly, he falls down, being crushed by the misfortune, and then he rises up, creating the Wheel of Fortune. It was one of the first Romanic windows, whose characteristics became the same for the Gothic style.
Otherwise, besides the rose, I will tell you another typical thing of this church: the three levels division. The crypt is located below, under the first parish church; then, at the top, there is the presbytery. Two splendid marble stairs will take you there. Then, you will find the most interesting art works inside the major apse… A wonderful Trittico of Mantegna and the giant marble statue of San Zeno, dating to the XIII century.
In a little square at the end of the homonymous medieval alley, it is located the biggest Basilica of the entire Verona. Would you like to discover more about this place to visit near Lake Garda? Well, here are a few things you need to know.
Following the ancient Roman Street of Tombs, finally you will admire the massive medieval Basilica of Sant ’Anastasia. Be sure of having written that in your must-to-do list, when you will come to Verona. It’s not only the major church of the city, but also the main gothic monument of the area.
Built in 1290 and consecrated in 1471, the Basilica has a typical brick façade, divided vertically into three sections, as the same as the naves. You will immediately notice the magnificent portal, adorned by sculptures and paintings. Secondly, the details: pointed arches and the delicate columns, made with polychrome marble. The lunette shows some frescos, dating back to the XV century, representing the Holy Trinity and the arrival of the Dominican Friars in Verona.
The inside is as solemn as the outside. The church is structured in three naves, divided by twelve columns made with red and white marble. These ones are also decorated with flourish capitals. Most of all, here you will find a lot of inestimable art works. Among them, the famous and spectacular masterpiece of Pisanello: the fresco of San Giorgio and the Princess. Spot it inside the Pellegrini Chapel. Certainly, this is one of his best representation, evocating a fairy-tale chivalrous world.
I’m sure I have given you the full list of the five things to see in Verona.
Now, do you remember of the tour I introduced at the beginning? Here is some information.
First of all, the tour leaves in the morning from both of the sides of Lake Garda, as I said before. Once you arrive, you will have a lot of free time to enjoy your day and a guided visit, both in English and in German.
Therefore, you have the chance to discover all the places we have seen together now, also tasting some local products in the historical centre.
It’s a daily tour, so you will come back in the later afternoon. At this point, you may be asking yourself how to book it?
Meet us at the Infopoint of Peschiera del Garda, we will do it for you! However, you can also book the tour by yourself on this website. You have just to select the date you choose and proceed with the payment. The price of the tour is about 45 euro per person, with discounts for children until 11 years old.
But one last point is missing. Which are the main events of this place to visit near to Lake Garda? Let’s see the most important ones.
VERONA IN LOVE
There’s no place like the city of love to spend some time with your sweet half on Valentine’s Day!
Verona truly gives herself to this special occasion, planning every year the event called Verona in Love. What is it about? A program full of emotions and many appointments, including all the main beautiful places of the city, following the only main theme of love. During these days, all the retailers, restaurants, libraries, squares and so on work together to give you a unique experience.
Among the initiatives, you can’t lose the National Contest for young artists, about original love songs. Many young songwriters will present their tracks, composed by themselves and talking about love.
The tradition wants this event to be the most waited and attended by local people: Carnival time. Did you know that the Carnival of Verona is one of the most ancient in Italy? It dates back a long time ago: the first one took place in 1531!
Tradition wants also “Venerdì Gnocolar”, as called by Venetians, to be the day in which organize a big parade of masks and allegorical floats. It’s the last Friday of the Carnival time. To lead the parade is always “Papà del Gnoco”, in English meaning “the father of gnocchi”, representing the main custom of the tradition.
EXHIBITION: VINITALY, MARMOMACC AND FIERA CAVALLI
These exhibitions could be added to the list of the five things to see in Verona as well, because of the importance they have.
Firstly, the Vinitaly, the most famous one.
Every year, usually during spring season, it takes place the biggest international event of wine and enology. More of 35 countries will be there, represented by as many exhibitors: each one will give you a taste of their excellent local products. Besides wine, you could discover different technologies and wine making equipment. Moreover, you will be able to explore other specialties, such as olive oil, spirits, bear and delicious gastronomy.
Then, another important exhibition: the Marmomacc.
It’s the most important world exhibition of marble and of all the machining needed in the processing. Why takes place right here this big event? Verona is part of one of the major Italian business districts for the production of marble, stone and granite.
Since a long time, this tradition has been fortified. During the years it gave life to many and many businesses working on local and imported materials with the most advanced technologies.
Lastly, we shall conclude this chapter with another pillar of the Veronese culture and tradition: Fiera Cavalli.
The passionate ones will already know what I’m talking about: this event dates back to more than two centuries ago. In 1772 there was the first building process of a fair for horses, mules, donkeys and hinnies. For more than 100 years, there have been taken place many horse competitions and trades, until 1898. That was the year of the first edition of Fiera Cavalli and Agricultura.
However, the year in which everything changed was the 1950: the exhibition became international and the main one in the world.
As I said before, there is another famous event in this amazing place to visit near Lake Garda. It doesn’t need any formal introduction, I guess.
The Arena Opera Festival is that kind of event that if you are fond of music, you must not lose. For any reason! In my opinion, I think that anyone should attend one of these shows, at least once in their life. Why? Because of the atmosphere, the lights, the orchestra, great actors and singers: all of that, inside the spectacular scenario of the Arena. We’re talking about the biggest open-air opera theatre in the entire world, with a maximum capacity of 15.000 people.
If you are coming to Verona in the middle of September, get ready to go back in time and have fun with the Tocatì. This big festival is about the traditional games of the city, for both adults and kids. Everywhere you will go, you will find some spots in the centre where to play.
CHRISTMAS MARKETS AND THE EXHIBITION OF NATIVITY SCENES
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” …We have arrived at December, when the cold whether comes and the streets are full of lights, creating a magical atmosphere.
Every year, Verona hosts the traditional Christmas markets in Piazza dei Signori.
Moreover, there is also the beautiful Exhibition of Nativities inside the Arena.
Besides the five things to see in Verona, if you would like to know more about these Christmas markets, I suggest you reading the related article.
There are so many places to visit near Lake Garda: you’re spoilt for choice!