“Straddle” the river Adige when you cross over the oldest bridge in Verona so as to capture the most fascinating view of this city: Walk through the silent little monumental squares, and treat yourself to a fantastic trip to a park full of Roman antiquities and Medieval walls……. Enjoy the puzzle of a mysterious garden where even the plants turn into sculptures!
..If you want to follow us on this itinerary then we will set off together for the extraordinary church of Santa Anastasia where we will meet two gentlemen bent over with the weight of the centuries. Then, passing by the Cathedral and the silent Bishopric Square (Piazza del Vescovado) we will finally come to the ancient Ponte Pietra (Stone Bridge), from which there is the most extraordinary view towards the hills! Like a theatre show we can see arrayed before us the churches of St. George and St. Stephen; the Roman Theatre and St. Peter’s Castle……. Let’s set off then to discover the treasures that are kept in the Archaeological Museum; let’s “hike” up the hill of San Pietro and race along the grass running alongside the city walls. Let’s stop to look at Verona from above, and then we can go on down to the Giusti Gardens for a last great “plunge” into the natural world….. transformed into art!
We’ll meet up in front of the biggest church in Verona
Lets go inside now, and let your eyes run along the elegant and precious interior, built in the form of the “Latin cross”. Of the three naves, the central one is more important, separated from the lateral naves by towering columns of red Veronese marble…… But it is already time to meet the two patient gentlemen whose backs have been bent double over the centuries under the weight of the
holy water stoops.
Another extremely beautiful decorative element to be found here is the
St- Anastasia has always been an important church with a large congregation, and for this reason it was much-coveted by the important Veronese families who each wanted to build their own small “sanctuary” within, in the form of a monumental tomb embellished with sculptures and paintings.
If you look around, you will see that all along the sides of the church, and facing the apses there are altars and side chapels all dedicated to illustrious personages. Let’s stop for a moment to admire three of these marvels united by the same common theme of the horse with his rider, and each belonging to a different monument.
1. The fresco containing The Three Saints, George, Martin and James who present three members of the Cavalli family to the enthroned Virgin Mary with her Child , can be found in the
2. Just next-door, look up above the entrance to the Pellegrini Chapel and lets stop here to witness the “telling” of the legend of Saint George and the dragon in the
fresco by Pisanello.
NTry to capture all the beauty that is intrinsic in this painting, immersing yourself in the atmosphere of expectation that the artist creates by illustrating the rich and noble world of the Medieval knights in such minute detail whilst, at the same time making it all so familiar by painting so many animals so perfectly as to make them seem real..
On the left wall of the presbytery, the “stage curtains” open to reveal another horseman: Cortesia Serego.
Now that you have admired the “chivalrous aspect” of St. Anastasia, let us continue our itinerary by turning left after coming out of the church and walking along Via Massalongo and Via Duomo as far as the
Cathedral of Verona (Duomo).
Our aim today is to closely examine and investigate the sculpted decorations found on the façade -work of two artists who have each left their own “signature” on their work. The first was Pelegrinus (whose name appears on an
now housed in the Castelvecchio Museum), and he was also the architect who designed the Cathedral.
Come and look at the south porch with us (the one with a kind of marble canopy that overshadows the side door) and you will see the most bizarre figures, both real and fantastic animals crammed together and carved in stone. Each one has a precise meaning, and all together they take part in the “narrative” of the house of God. Look for example at the
The second sculptor was Nicolaus, and the imposing porch that dominates the main entrance was his work. Corkscrew-shaped columns sustain the great curved arch, and their weight is borne by two fearful
Corkscrew-shaped columns sustain the great curved arch, and their weight is borne by two fearful gryphons. In these ancient cathedrals, the doors have a very profound significance in that they symbolise the conversion, or the crossing over between two worlds: the ferocious guards only allow those who are worthy to enter inside. The entrance is also guarded by two famous champions called
can you manage to see them (behind the columns)?
On the sides of the portal, on the door jambs ten silent prophets have been portrayed: as you go closer you will feel yourself being observed by their penetrating eyes…… do you want to know their name?
On the right
you will find Gioele, Michea, Zaccaria, Aggeo, Abacuc;while
on the left
Malachia, Salomone, Baruc, Isaia e Daniele.
Let us take our leave of these “old” friends of ours and continue our walk……. obviously, if you would like to visit the inside of the Cathedral then no one is going to stop you: it contains a wealth of paintings and works of art, even if its original appearance has been changed over the years.
Would you like to go for a walk in the open air? Then follow us along the south side of the church and we can meet up in the silent
Bishop’s Square ,
cwhich, at one time was adorned with a luxuriant garden.
Continuing on our way, you should walk across Piazza Broilo, and then turn left: you have finally reached the river Adige! The oldest bridge in the city will take you over to the other side:
Ponte Pietra (the “Stone” Bridge).
Before we cross over the river to explore the left bank, let’s just take a moment to take a good look at
Saint Peter's Hill.
This is where the very oldest inhabitants in Verona first lived, back in pre-historic times, when the hill was an ideal place to settle as it could be easily defended, while, at the same time the river could be forded to get to the plains on the opposite side. We can get a fine view of the hill from Ponte Pietra, and from there, just by following the horizon upwards we can “read” various phases of the past twenty centuries of Veronese history.
Let’s start from Roman times.
Right in front of you, along the river five arches were erected as part of the wall built to dam up the river Adige when in flood, and a little higher up you can see the remains of the theatre we will describe just a bit further on. The large building you can see above the theatre dates back to an earlier age however; it is the ancient convent of Saint Jerome. Even higher up, on the top of the hill is the barracks built by the Austrians during the first half of the nineteenth century.
Lets cross over the bridge so as to reach all these places we have seen, and discover their secrets. However, if you would like to spend a few more minutes taking in an overall vision of Ponte Pietra, then turn left and make your way towards the
church of Saint George.
Much nearer to Ponte Pietra, on the other side of the road you can hardly have failed to notice the smaller, but equally beautiful church of:
From the riverside, Pon te Pietra also has the same “two-tone” appearance – if you see it at sunset on a sunny day it is even more picturesque. The two white limestone arches date from Roman times (notice the ‘window’ placed between the two arches which helps the outflow of water when the water level is very high), whilst the other three brick arches date back to more recent times - one from the 2nd century, and the other two central ones from 1520. Now you can go back to the bridge and continue your walk along the left bank of the river.
Just a few yards away is the
Roman Theatre which is one of the most interesting buildings in Verona.
Come in for just a few minutes and you can have a good time going up and down the terraced seats (cavea) where the audience used to sit in Roman times. The Veronese theatre was extremely beautiful, and was also always packed with spectators who came to watch the plays which were mostly comedies, tragedies and farces.
Not far away there also used to be a smaller theatre called the Odeon, and which was used for musical auditions. Nowadays, during the summer there are a number of enthralling productions held in the Roman Theatre; if you should happen to be in Verona during July or August then you might like to go to an enjoyable comedy play by Carlo Goldoni; to a Shakespearian drama or to a jazz music concert, or a ballet. It is an incredibly emotional experience to sit in the very same seats where the Veronese audiences of 2000 years ago enjoyed the performances with the same enthusiasm as all the ancient Roman inhabitants used to go to the theatre.
Before you leave the theatre, you might be interested in knowing something about the buildings that overlook the stage. The small church you can see on the right is dedicated to
Saint Siro and Saint Libera,
and dates back to the 10th century. The large building directly behind the theatre is, as we have seen the ancient
convent of Saint Jerom.
If you still aren’t tired, then go on into the convent where you can visit the monks’ cells; the refectory, the small cloister and the chapel so as to breathe in the undisturbed and peaceful atmosphere where the monks lived. From the tiny windows you will have a magnificent view. In fact there is no doubt that you must enter because, apart from everything else, there is a surprise waiting for you! Go right inside the convent – either climbing the stairs or using the lift to get up there – and you will see that each and every room contains exhibits of
statues, bronzes, and historical objects of every shape and form. In fact the convent of St.Jerome houses the Archaeological Museum of Verona.
Make your way through the various exhibition rooms, stopping and looking closely at whatever most interests you….. there are also a series of
that start off from the heart of the Museum, and which have been recently re-opened.
Once you have finished in the Museum, and the theatre, turn right back the way you came, and then immediately after the chemists’ shop, turn right again, and we will “climb” up a steep flight of stairs that passes between some lovely houses.
It will only take you a few minutes to get to
St. Peter’s Castle.
From the forecourt outside you can enjoy an overview panorama of the city centre - look at the river Adige whose soft bends cross over and between the oldest areas of Verona. Maybe the time has finally come to really let yourself go!
Walk all round the old barracks and climb up towards the walls which, for centuries have defended the city from attacks on this side. The leafy path that runs alongside the walls is called Via San Zeno in Monte and, as you will see, it is an ideal place to go for a run, or for a relaxing walk.
It only takes ten minutes to get to the Don Calabria Institute; a large group of buildings which all face outwards on to a spectacular “balcony” overlooking the city. Why don’t you stop here for a few minutes and enjoy this extraordinary view. Then if you go back down along the Via Scala Santa, (the ‘Holy Staircase Road’) why don’t you come along with us to discover another very original place – a “garden-museum”:
the Giusti Gardens.
Do you like the idea of collecting and
statue ed epigrafi all’aperto,
walking on the grass rather than in a museum? We think it’s a great idea!
Enjoy yourself by running along the paths, hiding behind the bushes and, in the meantime you can marvel at the sights and the amazing views you will find here and there. Take a look at the cypresses, planted in 1946 in exactly the same positions as the original ones which were destroyed in the war. You will realise that the lower (“Italian-style”) part of the garden is very different from the upper (“English-style”) part. Can you explain the different characteristics of these two types of garden? A sharp-eyed traveller such as yourself will have no problem in answering this “quiz question” to the full……. so we will look forwards to seeing you on our next day together in Verona when we will explore its culture, its landscape and art…. but also its restaurants, bars and interesting shops!
See you soon!