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Source: Croatian Traveller
The city of the most famous and tragic love is one of the seven big cities in the north of Italy. Verona is full of historic and artistic heritage, famous festivals and international fairs. It was one of the most powerful cities in the Roman Empire, and Julius Caesar chose Verona as the place for his holidays. It acquired popularity and richness thanks to its geographic location on the curve of Adige River, not far from Lake Garda. UNESCO has placed it on the world heritage list long time ago.
The forts and walls are a witness of Verona’s turbulent past. They were built by ancient Romans, Medieval rulers and finally, the Austro-Hungarians. The city is entered through several old stone gates even today. The Roman municipium was established in 49 AD in the place of the current old town that is surrounded on three sides by Adige River, which was the ideal defensive shield for many centuries. Certainly, one of the most important heritages of the ancient Rome is one of the biggest amphitheaters in the Empire, 152 meters wide and 32 meters high. It was built during the rule of Emperor Diocletian in 290, and could receive 22,000 spectators. The centurions walking in front of the Arena today will not be satisfied if you tip them less than five euro. Most of the animators in the service of the local tourist association are not even Italians, but people from the other side of the Adriatic.
The opera season in the arena lasts the entire summer. The admission fees start at 25 euro to several times that amount. The scenery of the arena is impressive, but the view from the top of the arena of the Piazza Bra square is worth every penny.
The majestic walls start at the gates of Portoni della Bra, and they lead to the square. Next to them is the Museo Lapidario Maffeiano and the Teatro Filarmonico opera building. The square is always lively, most of it is a pedestrian zone, and at the same time the best place for a break in one of the vivid small restaurants set thickly one next to the other.
The old Roman stone bridge Ponte Pietra from 1 AD was renovated throughout the time with bricks, so it is today a mixture of various epochs. It leads to a roman theatre (Teatro Romano) that also houses the archeological museum (Museo Arheologico).
The noble family of Scaligera (sometimes called Scala), the local power wielders of the time, transformed Verona’s image between 1277 and 1386. In 1355 they built the beautiful castle of Castelvecchio and a bridge made of red brick, the Ponte Scaligera, on the rivers of river Adige. The bridge is special for its defensive function and numerous loopholes.
Next to the 12th century church of Santa Maria Antica lie the unique gothic tombs of family Scaligere (Arche Scaligere). Raised high above the ground, they also include the tomb of famous ruler Cangrande I, who paid hospitality to Dante Alighieri. The area is fenced off with an wrought iron fence with the family crest motif.
In the times of Scaligeris, many palaces were built around town, and the most famous is the one where Romeo and Juliet enjoyed their love. Casa dei Capuleti, better known as the Casa di Giulietta, is a must-see landmark. Many people are trying to find their luck in love there, or are trying to forever seal the love they found. The entrance goes through a passage whose walls are adorned with millions of papers with love related messages. There is Julia’s statue in the yard, and below her balcony, many people visualize her love story that has been told numerous times. A stone house holds a museum, while the souvenir shop sells many kitschy trinkets for the tourists.
Just like all other European centers, Verona flourished during the Renaissance, between 1450 and 1600. Famous architect Sanmicheli, born in Veroni in mid 16th century, built the entrance doors of Porta Nouva and Porta Palit, as well as several palaces for the rich families.
Still, the most important monuments of that period are two central squares located close to each other. The bigger one is Piazza delle Erbe, today a market with produce and numerous stands selling souvenirs. A few rows of tables in nearby cafés are an excellent place to rest and watch Italian everyday life. The central place is the 84-meter high Torre del Lamberti with a large clock. One recognizable motif in all the postcards is the observation point, regularly visited by numerous tourist groups.
Piazza dei Signori is fenced off by palaces, with the monument to Dante in the middle. The square also features the Loggia del Consiglio palace, one of the most beautiful from the age of renaissance, with statues of prominent people from that period.