Verona

8 Feb

Verona is a city straddling the Adige river in Veneto, northern Italy, with approximately 265,000 inhabitants and one of the seven chef-lieus of the region. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third of northeast Italy. The metropolitan area of Verona covers an area of 1,426 km2 (550.58 sq mi) and has a population of 714,274 inhabitants. It is one of the main tourist destinations in northern Italy, owing to its artistic heritage, several annual fairs, shows, and operas, such as the lyrical season in the Arena, the ancient amphitheatre built by the Romans.

The precise details of Verona’s early history remain a mystery. The origin of the name Verona is also unknown. One theory is it was a city of the Euganei, who were obliged to give it up to the Cenomani (550 BC). With the conquest of the Vaecame Roman (about 300 BC) Verona became a Roman colonia in 89 BC, and then a municipium in 49 BC. After Verona was conquered by the Ostrogoths in 489, the Gothic domination of Italy began. Theodoric the Great was said to have built a palace there, and according to Irish legends that is what Verona was named after. It remained under the power of the Goths throughout the Gothic War (535–552), except for a single day in 541, when the Byzantine officer Artabazes made an entrance. The defections that took place among the Byzantine generals with regard to the booty made it possible for the Goths to regain possession of the city. In 552 Valerian vainly endeavored to enter it, but only when they were fully overthrown, the Goths surrendered it.

Because of the value and importance of its many historical buildings, Verona has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Verona preserved many ancient Roman monuments, no longer in use, in the early Middle Ages, but much of this and much of its early medieval edifices were destroyed or heavily damaged by the earthquake of 3 January 1117, which led to a massive Romanesque rebuilding. The Carolingian period Versus de Verona contains an important description of Verona in the early medieval era.

Verona is famous for its Roman amphitheatre, the Arena found in the city’s largest piazza, the Piazza Bra. Completed around 30 AD, it is the third largest in Italy after Rome’s Colosseum and the arena at Capua. It measures 139 metres long and 110 metres wide, and could seat some 25,000 spectators in its 44 tiers of marble seats. The ludi (shows and gladiator games) performed within its walls were so famous that they attracted spectators from far beyond the city. The current two-story façade is actually the internal support for the tiers; only a fragment of the original outer perimeter wall in white and pink limestone from Valpolicella, with three stories remains.The interior is very impressive and is virtually intact, and has remained in use even today for public events, fairs, theatre and open-aired opera during warm summer nights.

Verona was the birthplace of Catullus who was a Latin poet of the Republican period. His surviving works are still read widely, and continue to influence poetry and other forms of art. It’s also the town that Julius Caesar chose for relaxing stays. In its history many important names passed and events happened that were relevant for the European history, like Theodoric the Great, king of Ostrogoths, Alboin and Rosamund, the Lombard Dukes, Charlemagne and Pippin of Italy, Berengar I, Dante. Conclaves were held here, as were important congresses. Verona was in the travel diaries of Goethe, Stendhal and Paul Valéry.

Juliet’s House (Casa di Giulietta), Via Cappello, just off the Piazza delle Erbe. Supposedly the location of the famous balcony love scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The house is a major destination for tourist pilgrimage, as the tiny courtyard is normally packed with lovestruck teenagers photographing each other on the famous balcony. In fact, the house has no connection with Shakespeare’s fictional characters – although the house is old, the balcony was added in 1936 and declared to be “Juliet’s house” to attract tourists. You can visit the house itself (€4 entry) – it contains a sparse collection of Renaissance frescos rescued from other demolished palaces, and the bed from Zeffirelli’s 1968 movie, but not a lot more. The balcony overlooks a tiny courtyard containing a statue of Juliet. There is an unbelievable amount of graffiti and general scrawling on the walls, floor, seats, anything that will hold ink – there is a tradition of writing love messages to Juliet, and visitors leave notes, trinkets and bits of chewing gum fashioned into love hearts. Juliet’s house is a popular romantic shrine, but its popularity belies its value; compared to some of the treasures around Verona, Juliet’s house has very little to offer. So, if Juliet lived here, what about Romeo? A couple of streets away the house at 4, Via Arche Scaligere has been designated as his home. It is private, so other than a sign on the wall there is nothing much to see.

Piazza delle Erbe is the main square in Verona. Once it was the town’s forum during the time of the Roman Empire. The northern side of the square is occupied by the ancient town hall, the Torre dei Lamberti, the Casa dei Giudici (“Judges Hall”) and the Mazzanti Houses. The western side, the shortest one, features the Baroque Palazzo Maffei, decorated by statues of Greek gods. It is faced by a white marble column, on which is St. Mark’s Lion, symbol of the Republic of Venice square’s most ancient monument is the fountain, surmounted by a statue called Madonna Verona, which is however a Roman sculpture dating to 380 AD. Also historical is the capitello, dating to the 13th century, during which it was used for several ceremonies, including the oath of the city’s medieval podestà and pretors. Towards Via Cappello is another column, with a 14th century aedicula with reliefs of the Virgin and the Saints Zeno, Peter and Christopher. For us as visitors the square had many nick-nacks to buy as souvenirs, more importantly it was the first time we were able to buy good quality fresh fruit sold in little cups that was devoured quickly.

Shopping in Verona is quite easy as the main shopping area corresponds to the main tourist area. There are great shops in Via Mazzini, Corso Portoni Borsari, Via Roma, Via Cappello, Piazza Erbe and in many other streets. You can easily find clothes, shoes, music, souvenirs, perfumes, etc everywhere around the central area. If you’ve got money to spend you’ll find famous brands like Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, etc walking around the main streets but you will also find more affordable shops. If you are looking for CDs, DVDs, books in Italian, English, French, Spanish, travel guides, computer games, mobile phones and cameras, you can go to the Fnac store in via Cappello, 34, not far from juliet’s balcony. One of my favorite purchases was Roma Cologne by Laura Biagiotti, launched by the design house of laura biagiotti in 1994. Roma is classified as a sharp, oriental, woody fragrance. This masculine scent possesses a blend of a crisp oriental blended with sandalwood and patchouli. It is recommended for daytime wear. It’s a great scent, to be used sparingly as I’ve yet been able to find anywhere to get more until now. Whenever I put it on I instantly think of Italy.

This post has been some time in being typed as a few would know I accidentally deleted my original post that combined Verona, Lugano and the Italian lake area, this is one has been revised several times and I’ve decided to do the three separately.

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One Response to “Verona”

  1. RangeWoman Inc. February 10, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

    Thanks for including so many photos.

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