Verona district guide







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Verona district guide                                    (Back to Verona main information page)

With its wealth of Roman sites and streets of pink-hued medieval buildings, the easy-going city of VERONA has more in the way of sights than any other place in the Veneto except Venice itself. Unlike Venice, though, it's not a city overwhelmed by the tourist industry, important though that is to the local economy. Verona is the largest city of the mainland Veneto, its economic success largely due to its position at the crossing of the major routes from Germany and Austria to central Italy and from the west to Venice and Trieste.

Verona's initial development as a Roman settlement was similarly due to its straddling the main east-west and north-south lines of communication. A period of decline in the wake of the disintegration of the Roman Empire was followed by revival under the Ostrogoths, who in turn were succeeded by the Franks: Charlemagne's son, Pepin, ruled his kingdom from here. By the twelfth century Verona had become a city-state, and in the following century approached the zenith of its independent existence with the rise of the Scaligers . Ruthless in the exercise of power, the Scaligers were at the same time energetic patrons of the arts, and many of Verona's finest buildings date from their rule.

With the fall of their dynasty a time of upheaval ensued, Gian Galeazzo Visconti of Milan emerging in control of the city. Absorption into the Venetian Empire came in 1405, and Verona was governed from Venice until the arrival of Napoleon. Verona's history then shadowed that of Venice: a prolonged interlude of Austrian rule, brought to an end by the Unification of Italy in 1866

The town

Coming from the train station, you pass Verona's south gate, the Porta Nuova , and come onto the long Corso Porta Nuova, which ends at the battlemented arches that precede the Piazza Bra . Here stands the mightiest of Verona's Roman monuments, the Arena . Dating from the first century AD, the Arena has survived in remarkable condition, despite the twelfth-century earthquake that destroyed all but four of the arches of the outer wall. The interior (Tues-Sun 9am-6pm, closes 3.30pm during the opera season, usually July-Aug; 3.10) was scarcely damaged by the tremor, and nowadays audiences come to watch gargantuan opera productions where once crowds of around 20,000 packed the benches for gladiatorial contests and the like. Originally measuring 152m by 123m overall, and thus the third largest of all Roman amphitheatres, the Arena is still an awesome sight - and as an added treat offers a tremendous urban panorama from the topmost of the 44 pink marble tiers.

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