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Digital Subscriptions > Italia! > Jul 2019 > Verona


Our Venice correspondent Sara Scarpa travels west to spend a weekend in Verona, the city of love and opera set in the land of wines
Images by iain Reid

When you visit Verona, you will soon understand why this city is the perfect setting for the world’s greatest love story. Beautiful piazzas, winding streets, the castle, the city walls and the river hugging its curved banks all create a special and very Italian romantic atmosphere. But Verona is not only the Città dell’Amore – and therefore one of the best destinations for a romantic weekend – it is also (after Rome) the Italian city with the best-preserved Roman remains. Remarkable traces still remain today: the Arena; the Gavi Arch at Porta Borsari (the ancient entrance to the city); the archaeological site at Porta Leoni, ancient villas and mosaics located below street level. Indeed, its Roman heritage is such that in 2000 Verona was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Thanks to its strategic position between the valley of the River Adige and the Pianura Padana, Verona has been an important city for millennia. However, after the Romans arrived its importance grew so much that it became one of the most important cities in northern Italy. After the fall of Rome it was dominated by different populations before finally, in the 12th century, acquiring a status of autonomy. The city experienced further periods of expansion in the 13th and 14th centuries under the Scaliger rule and it was then that it achieved its greatest splendour with regards to art and culture. Under Cangrande I della Scala (1308-28) Verona conquered Padua and Vicenza. Another long period of prosperity and peace reigned after the city submitted to Venice in 1405, and this lasted until Napoleon’s arrival in 1797.



Piazza Bra, 1

The arena with its gigantic dimensions dominates Piazza Bra. It is the most famous monument in Verona and the symbol of the city. Built in the fi rst half of the 1st century AD, between the end of the empire of Augustus and the empire of Claudius, it was an arena for gladiator shows for almost 400 years. Nowadays every summer, with thanks to its great acoustics and ideal location, it hosts the famous opera festival.

This begins in June, and has taken place every summer since 1913. The Verona Opera Festival is one of the best opera events in the world and each year it attracts hundreds of thousands of people. This year the festival takes place from June 21st to September 7th June and the operas scheduled are: La Traviata, Aida, Il Trovatore, Carmen and Tosca. There will be some special performances to see as well: Carmina Burana, Roberto Bolle and Friends, and Plácido Domingo 50 Arena Anniversary Nigh.

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About Italia!

This month we embark on our travels to Verona, the beautiful Veneto city immortalised by Shakespeare in his tale of star-crossed lovers. Whether the story of Juliet’s balcony is fact or fiction matters little, as we travel deeper to the city’s heart and its noble Roman heritage. Traditions of another kind are on our mind in Puglia; this time, the culinary variety. It’s a captivating land with its roots firmly in the soil, as you’ll discover. The restful public gardens of Florence are in the spotlight too, while this month’s Fast Culture tells a tale of mistaken identity or Renaissance ‘spin’ that’s not to be missed.