I dind’t know this would have been such a long post…after all it was just one day….but we managed to see so many beautiful things that I really wanna share….
Piazza delle Erbe (also known as market’s Place) is an enchanted corner of Verona, perhaps the most true. A corner where palaces, towers, statues and architectural elements from various eras overlapped, creating a layered collage harmonious, unique and unrepeatable. In international guides is often presented as one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. For many centuries Piazza delle Erbe was the center of social life, economic and religious, of Verona. In Roman times it housed the Forum, of which the current square preserves the original length: there were the Capitol, the Temples and Spa, connected by a porch that housed many shops. In the communal period it was the seat of political power and with the Scala family it became a lively center of arts and trades.
Starting the visit from the eastern side of the square, at first we find the thirteenth-century Palace of Reason (or of the City), which was for centuries the center of the political power of the city. Its rooms housed the Board of Notaries, the Custom Duty of the Silk Road, the Magistrates Court, the Court of Assizes and the prisons, but always on the ground floor there were shops and stores. Devastated by several fires, owes its present appearance to the architect Giuseppe Barbieri who, in the nineteenth century, had the facade overlooking the square renovated in a Neoclassical style very different from the original Romanesque structure.
The building is dominated by the Torre dei Lamberti , erected in 1172 by the family Lamberti following the Romanesque style typical of the period and still visible at the bottom, made of brick alternating with tuff. In the centuries it has undergone various elevations, in a succession of materials and styles always in tune with each other, until 1464 when, with the addition of the octagonal belfry it came to 84 meters and become the tallest tower in Verona. From the back yard of the Old Market you can have access by elevator to the top, enjoying an unparalleled view of the city.
The adjacent thirteenth century House of Judges had several important functions over the centuries: initially used as a residence-office of the Podesta with the name of Domus Nova, became the seat of the city councils and the residence of judges sent from Venice during the Serenissima. The residence is connected to the Town Hall through the Arc of Costa, from which hangs a giant rib. According to popular belief it was a rib lost by the devil, but in reality it is a whale rib used as a “sign” from one of the spice shops that in the Middle Ages looked out over the square.
The eastern side of the square ends with a magnificent complex that ends at the corner with St. Anastasia street: this is the Case Mazzanti, and these are some of the oldest buildings of Verona. Used already in the fourteenth century by the Scala as a granary are famous for lively mythological frescoes on the facade, representing Ignorance, Prudence, Envy, Providence and the fight between Giants. The fresco was created at the beginning of the sixteenth century, following a practice widespread in the Renaissance, which earned Verone the nickname of urbs picta (painted city) and still visible in many buildings in the center.
On the north west side of the square, the shorter, there are two buildings of great historical and artistic interest: the baroque Palazzo Maffei and the ancient Tower Gardello. The building dates back to the seventeenth century and with it the Baroque style made his grand entrance to Verona, in the prominence of this elegant and sophisticated three-story building where the beauty of the facade kidnaps in a flash of lightning complexity. Special admiration deserves the six mythological statues standing on the elegant balustrade, all local marble, except that of Hercules, who belonged to a temple dating back to the first century BC (the remains of which are visible in the basement of the restaurant on the ground floor – the building is now an elegant hotel). The Tower Gardello dates from the 13th century, but owes its present appearance to Cansignorio della Scala, who in 1363 made some works and elevated it to the current height of 44 meters.It ‘also known as the Tower of the Hours because on its top there’ss a mechanical clock bell among the oldest in Europe, who beat the hours from 1421 to 1810. In front of the palace there’s the Column of San Marco, built in 1523 to celebrate the restored Venetian rule and dominated by the Marciano Lion, symbol of the Serenissima Republic…….We asked, and kindly were allowed to the side entrance of the hotel……
The buildings that are located in front of the Mazzanti houses, rise on the foundations of the ancient Roman Capitol, which faced the Court with one of the long sides. Some of them still retain fragments on the facade of the typical Renaissance frescoes.
At the corner of Via Pellicciai stands the majestic Domus Mercatorum, built in 1301 by the Scala family as the seat of Arts and Crafts when the square greeted the New Market wanted to expand the Old Market site in the square. Over the centuries it has undergone many transformations and changes of destination, returning to its original home-medieval fortress with battlements and mullioned windows at the end of the nineteenth century.
In the middle of the square there are other interesting monuments that enhance the artistic value of the site. The first in importance is the Ancient Column, a gothic pillar with shrine erected in 1401 to show the insignia of the Visconti of Milan, during the years they dominated Verona. In the niches are carved figures Mary, St. Zeno, St. Christopher and Peter Martyr.
We finished our walk in front of the Church of San Nicolò (St. Nicholas).
In 1591 the Theatines fathers settle initially in the convent of Santa Maria della Chiara, until they obtained the permission to move to St. Nicholas, where there was already a church, still dedicated to St. Nicholas , built probably in the twelfth century (perhaps after the earthquake in 1117 ). Works began on March 21 1627 , when the first stone was laid, and continued slowly until 1630 , when they stopped because of the plague. After this period the works continued faster than before. With new funds were finished the two side chapels and two other of the crossing, was built the sacristy and began works for the vault of the aisle. With the exhaustion of the funds it was not possible to realize the dome and decorate the facade, but the interior decoration was finished thanks to the help of some aristocratic families of Verona, and the 27 May1697 the bishop of Verona officially consecrated the church.
In 1806 the Theatines were forced to leave Verona and the church was closed, like many others, following the suppression wanted by Napoleon Bonaparte , while the façade, the dome and the bell tower were still incomplete. However, the problem of completing the works presented again, but only after the IIWW it was decided to finish the facade, which still lacked many decorations, transposing that of the church of San Sebastiano , (situated where now stands the city library) because it was the only part of the church that was preserved while the rest of the building had been destroyed by bombings. Nevertheless, the church is an important monument of the sacred architecture of Verona and is a gallery of Baroque art .
The unfinished bell tower houses six large bells, being played in concert by hand using the technique of the “Bells of Verona” . These bells have values of tonal and harmonic structure of high precision.
Porta Borsari (below) is an ancient Roman gate, it dates to the 1st century AD, though it was most likely built over a pre-existing gate from the 1st century BC. An inscription dating from emperor Gallienus’ reign reports another reconstruction in 265 AD. The Via Postumia (which here became the decumanus maximus) passed through the gate, which was the city’s main entrance and was therefore richly decorated. It also originally had an inner court, now disappeared.
The gate’s Roman name was Porta Iovia, as it was located near a small temple dedicated to Jupiter lustralis (whose remains are still visible in the gardens beside the Monumental Cemetery). In the Middle Ages it was called Porta di San Zeno, while the current name derives from the guard soldiers which were paid the dazio (Latin bursarii). The façade, in local white limestone, has two arches flanked by semi-columns with Corinthian capitals which supports entablature and pediment. In the upper part is a two-floor wall with twelve arched windows, some of which are included in small niches with triangular pediment.
Not bad for just one day, don’t you think? Luckily the weather was not so bad, actually the sun was playing hide-and-seek all day….and we had really a great time. More to come about this day later….