There’s more to Verona than the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet:
Many travellers make whistle-stop visits to Verona to see the famous Juliet Balcony. However, there’s very much more to Verona than just the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet.
After Venice, Verona is the second biggest city in the Veneto region, and one of the most prosperous in northern Italy. Within its historical centre, there are many magnificent and well preserved Roman ruins whose quality is second only to Rome.
Verona’s two main focal points are the massive Verona Arena which is used for major events such as the Verona Opera Festival, and Piazza Erbe with its busy and colourful market. You can climb to the top of Torre dei Lamberti for a magnificent aerial view of Verona and its surrounds.
Verona’s Roman amphitheatre is the third largest in the world, after Rome’s Colosseum and the amphitheatre at Santa Maria Capua Vetere near Naples. The interior is pretty much intact and was large enough to hold the entire population of Roman Verona. People used to come here to watch the gladiators fight and the mock battles. These days it’s used for fairs, bullfights, theatre and opera productions.
Piazza Erbe and Piazza dei Signori
Piazza Erbe sits on the site of the ancient Roman forum and is named after the city’s old herb market. Today, the stalls sell a wider range of produce, including cooked food and fruit and vegetables.
At the northern end of Piazza Erbe is the Baroque Palazzo Maffei. The six statues lining the top of the building represent Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Apollo, Hercules and Minerva. In front of Palazzo Maffei is a tall column, on top of which sits the Venetian Lion. This symbolizes the absorption of Verona into the Venetian Empire in 1405.
In the middle of Piazza Erbe is the Madonna Verona Fountain. The Madonna statue dates from Roman times however, unfortunately, the fountain itself is frequently overshadowed by the market stalls.
Arco della Costa, or the Arch of the (whale) Rib, links Piazza dei Signori to Piazza Erbe. Arco della Costa is so called because of the whale rib that hangs from the top of the arch. It is believed that if anyone who has never told a lie before walks through the arch, the whale rib will fall down. Well, the rib has been hanging up there for a long time and has yet to fall!
In the centre of Piazza dei Signori stands an elegant statue of Dante, his gaze seemingly fixed on the sinister Palazzo del Capitano, once the home of Verona’s military commanders. Beside this is the equally forbidding Palazzo della Ragione, the palace of Reason or law court. Behind the statue of Dante is the Loggia del Consiglio, the council chamber.
Other Verona attractions include:
- Castelvecchio, built in the 14th century now houses one of the finest art galleries in the Veneto
- The church of San Zeno Maggiore, to the north-west, with its unusual medieval bronze door panels, one of the key attractions in Verona.
- Verona’s Duomo Santa Maria Matricolare
- Teatro Romano, built in the lst century BC
- Tombs of the Scaligeri beside the entrance to the church of Santa Maria Antica, once the parish church of the powerful Scaligeri family.
- Sant’ Anastasia church with its two famous holy water stoups. These are supported by beggars known locally as i gobbi or hunchbacks.
- Casa di Giuliletta
- Romeo’s House