Verona Vacations - Best Italian Vacations

Verona Vacations

The historic city of Verona was founded in the 1st century B.C. It particularly flourished under the rule of the Scaliger family in the 13th and 14th centuries and as part of the Republic of Venice from the 15th to 18th centuries. Verona has preserved a remarkable number of monuments from antiquity, the medieval and Renaissance periods, and represents an outstanding example of a military stronghold.

History and General Information on Verona

The city is situated in northern Italy, in Veneto region, at the foot of the Lessini Mountains on the River Adige. It dates from prehistoric times: a small built-up area that developed between the 4th and 3rd century BCE became a Roman municipium in the 1st century BCE after which it rose rapidly in importance. During the 5th century, Verona was occupied by the Ostrogoth Theodoric I, later by the Lombards, and in 774 by Charlemagne. In the early 12th century, it became an independent commune. It prospered under the rule of the Scaliger family and particularly under Cangrande I, falling to Venice in 1405. From 1797, it became part of the Austrian Empire and joined the Kingdom of Italy in 1866. The core of the city consists of the Roman town nestled in the loop of the river containing one of the richest collections of Roman remains in northern Italy. Surviving remains of this era include the city gate, Porta Borsari, the remains of the Porta Leoni, the Arco dei Gavi, which was dismantled in the Napoleonic period and rebuilt next to Castelvecchio in the 1930s, the Ponte Pietra, the Roman theatre, and the Amphitheatre Arena. The city is famous as it is the place where William Shakespeare set his play Romeo and Juliet.

What to See in Verona

The Verona Arena

As famous as Romeo and Juliet and smaller only than the Colosseum and the Amphitheatre of Capua, the Arena of Verona was built by the Romans in the 1st century AD, in the Augustan period. Its name comes from its central area, which was covered with sand, precisely arena in Latin. As in all amphitheatres, the famous gladiator fights were held here, as too were the venationes, the hunts of fierce exotic animals.

The Romeo and Juliet trail

Shakespeare is extremely unlikely ever to have set foot in Verona. However, his source for the plot of Romeo and Juliet was derived at several removes from an Italian story set in the town, featuring two feuding families with names similar to those of historical Veronese dynasties. So there is a connection, but whether you wish to feel that the real town of Verona has any direct link to Shakespeare’s work is up to you. It doesn’t stop the town from marketing Romeo and Juliet postcards, mugs, tea-towels, sliding pens and more. There is a busy Shakespearian tourist trail, and (mind-bogglingly) you can post a letter to fictional dead character Juliet at ‘Juliet’s tomb’, or email her at ‘Juliet’s balcony’. The city organises various ‘romantic’ initiatives, including events around Valentine’s Day.

Castelvecchio

A 14th-century, red brick, fortified castle on the banks of the river Adige. The main castle buildings house the city art museum which is packed with a rich collection of medieval sculpture and Renaissance paintings. As well as the museum, the extensive castle ramparts are great for exploring – ideal for families with children who enjoy running around castle fortifications. The Castelvecchio has an adjoining bridge over the river which is open all the time – walk over the bridge for some fantastic views of the castle on the river.

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