Verona in one day

verona one day cover smallThis is an excerpt from the book “Verona in One Day” by Enrico Massetti.

Arena – Photo © Odelot
Arena – Photo © Odelot

With its position between the banks of the River Adige winding at the foot of the hills, the beauty of its colors, the green of its cypresses, the dark red of its bricks, the ivory of its stone, the white marbles, the extraordinary barroom; of its mixture of Roman, medieval and Renaissance art, and the magnificent splendor of its churches, Verona is one of the most fascinating cities of Italy. An ancient prehistoric settlement, then a city of the Gauls and the Romans, a capital of Ostrogoth, Longobard, and Frankish dynasties, it next passed, after the age of the communes, into the brief, but happy, possession of the Scaligers (1260-1387) and lastly to the Venetian Republic.

Our visit begins in the spectacular Piazza Bra, the site of the enormous Roman Arena (1st century), the largest structure of its kind after the Colosseum. Next to the Arena, we find the neoclassical Palazzo Municipale. (Town Hall) and, set against the city walls, the Palazzo delta Gran Guardia (1610). Passing through the 15th century archways which span Corso Ports Nooks, we come upon the Mafjet Museum of Gems, with a handsome etassical courtyard; beyond Via Roma is a row of three fine palaces, Vaccari, Barbaro and Malfatti (designed by Sammicheli, 1555). Taking Via Roma, we reach Castelvecchio, an impressive 14th century fortress on the Adige, which today houses the Civic Museum and its important collection of Venetian painting (works by G. Bellini, Crivelti, Tintoretto, Titian, Tiepolo, Guardi, and by those gentlest of Veronese artists, Stefano da Zesio and Altichicro). Before leaving the Castle, we should wander among its towers and battlements to enjoy the marvelous view.

Taking Stradone Antonio Procolo, we pass by the Renaissance church of San Bernardino (1466), and come to San Zero, the most beautiful church in Verona and one of the most important in Italy. It was founded in the 5th century, but in its present form it dates from 1138, at which time the magnificent face was finished with its elegant porch and carvings by Nicola and Guglielmo, a masterpiece of Romanesque sculpture. Passing through the superb Romanesque bronze doors, we enter the grandiose interior where, on the high altar, there is a Triptych by Andrea Mantcgna (1459), one of the noblest paintings of the Renaissance. Following the Adige back to Castelvecchio, we go on by it to the superb Arco dei Gavi (ca. 50 AD.), demolished in 1805 by the French and later rebuilt. After the Palazzo Canossa, designed by Sammicheli, we go on down Corso favor where we find, on the left, the Romanesque church of S. Lorenzo, and on the right, the Palazzo Bevilacqua (1530) and the church of SS. Apostoli.

Beyond the Roman Ports Borsari, we come to the Torre del Gardello, in front of which we find the lively Piazza delle Erbe, whence we pass into the adjoining Piazza dei Signori, a superb creation dating from the Middle Ages (Palazzo della Ragione, 1193, and the 13th century Palazzo degli Scaligeri) and from the Renaissance (the splendid Loggia). Close by here is one of the most enchanting spots in Verona, that stretch of street dominated by the Arche Scaligere, in which, between their palace and S. Maria Antics are buried the Scaliger lords, under whose rule Verona passed out of the Middle Ages into its glorious a Rebirth. Wandering through the neighbouring streets, we come to , Juliet’s House; then taking Via Stella, we pass be side the 14th century church of S. Maria delta Scala, and then along Via Anfiteatro, with the Palazzo dei Diamanti, we return to Piazza Bra, where we may interrupt our tour for lunch in one of the excellent restaurants.

In the afternoon, we start off again from Piazza Bra and going to the left of the Town Hall, reach the very ancient church of San Pietro Incarnario and then San Fermo Maggiore (1261), richly decorated inside with frescoes by Altichievo and with magnificent tombs. From San Fermo, we cross the Adige on the Prime Navi, beyond which is the handsome Palazzo Pompei (1530) designed by Sammicheli, and then the Church of San Paolo (inside, canvases by Veronese, Caroto, etc.).

North of Via Venti Settembre is the church of SS Nazaro and Celso (fine Venetian paintings), from which we make our way to S. Maria in Organo, an 8th century Benedictine abbey remodeled by Sammicheli (superb inlaid woodwork in the choir dating from 1499). Passing Santa Chiara (15th century) on our right, we reach the foot of St. Peter’s Hill, into the side of which is set the Roman Theatre, in a magnificent position overlooking the city and the curving sweep of the Adige. Nest to it is the Archaeological Museum. Following the curve of the Adige, we come to the stately church of San Giorgio (1477-1536) which contains several famous paintings, amongst them the Martyrdom of St. George, a masterpiece by Veronese, and the Baptism of Christ by Tintoretto. Crossing the bridge in front of the Roman Theatre, only a few steps away we find the Romanesque Cathedral with its lovely semicircular apse (12th century) and a Cloister with small red marble columns; inside, the Assumption by Titian (1540). We then take Via Damon and come to the last masterpiece of Vcronese architecture which remains to be seen, Sant’Anastasia, a Dominican Gothic church (1290) with priceless frescoes by Pisanello.

Where to stay in Verona

There are hotels, apartments, villas and B&Bs available, check it out and make a reservation here.