Verona Arena – the Third Largest Roman Amphitheatre is Famous for its Opera Festivals:
Although many tourists are drawn to Verona by the love story of Romeo and Juliet, one other Verona attraction that has had visitors flocking to it since Roman times is the Arena di Verona (Verona Arena). As you can see from the above image, the Verona Arena is one of the best preserved ancient amphitheatres of its kind and it is also the third largest in Italy.
The Arena di Verona was built in AD30 as a venue for sports, gladiator fights and games, entertainment that the Romans enjoyed. With dimensions of 140 meters long and 100 meters wide, it is exceeded in size only by the Colosseum in Rome and the Capua Amphitheatre in Campania in the south of Italy. The 30,000 capacity amphitheatre was originally built outside the ancient city walls so that it could be easily reached by visitors arriving from outside the city. The external location also ensured that the city did not get too congested when there are events on and that the onslaught of visitors did not pose any law and order problems for the locals. The games were very popular and spectators would come from near and far to witness the competitions.
The original amphitheatre had a higher outer ring wall. With the decline of the Roman Empire, the amphitheatre fell into disrepair. An earthquake in the 12th century destroyed most of the outer ring of which there are only four arches left standing, which you can see to the left of the picture above. The destroyed outer wall was used as building material. It was only in the 19th century that there was renewed interest in using the amphitheatre as a venue for performances.
In 1913 the Verona Arena was chosen to stage Verdi’s Aida to mark 100 years since his birth. From that time on, the Arena di Verona became famous the world over for its spectacular Verona Opera Festival. Each year between four to six opera productions are staged from June to August and many opera singers’ careers were launched through performing in Verona. During the winter months, the amphitheatre is used by the local opera and ballet companies.
For those who love opera, an evening at the atmospheric Arena di Verona is an unforgettable experience. In addition to enjoying the drama of famous and popular operas like Carmen, Aida, Turondot, Masked Ball, etc., it is mind-boggling to know that two thousand years ago, the ancient Romans used to sit in these same spots to enjoy shows here as well, but of a different nature. And for the romantics, what an experience it would be to enjoy Romeo and Juliet in this historic venue. And you don’t have to blow your budget to enjoy an opera in Verona. The venue has a capacity of 15,000 and the tickets for the upper level stone steps are much cheaper. Just remember to bring your own cushion or a jumper to sit on.
The opera season runs from June through August and if you’re planning on attending an opera in Verona, do book early for the best seats.
See the list of Verona Arena operas and book your Verona Arena tickets Here.
If you’re not into operas, you can still visit the Verona Arena when it is not in use for opera performances.
Hours: Tue-Sun: 09:00 – 19:00 | Mon: 13:45 – 19:30
Arena di Verona
Piazza Bra, 1