ITALY  |  Verona, Italy Travel Guide
Thursday, April 15, 2021

A Brief History of Verona

A Brief History of Verona

At the crossroads of two important Roman roads, Verona served as a critical strategic and commercial center for many centuries. It began as a colony of the Roman Empire in the first century BC and was joined with the Empire in 49 BC. The arena, one of the world’s best-preserved Roman amphitheaters, was built to accommodate upwards of 20,000 spectators and, along with the Roman theater and the city’s gates, Verona maintains its Roman identity today.

Over the centuries many ruling families and factions came to Verona and in the 12th century it was a free commune. Catastrophe struck in the form of a major earthquake in the 12th century, badly damaging many of the city’s important monuments, including the Arena. By the early 13th century, Ezzelino da Romano came to power in Verona where he ruled until 1259. Shortly thereafter, the powerful Scaligeri dynasty (not always popular but eventually remembered for bringing peace to the city) came to rule Verona until the late 14th century.

Great cultural and artistic developments took place during the Scaligeri rule, particularly under Cangrande I, who hosted Dante Alighieri at his court in the early 14th century and Dante dedicated a canticle of the Divina Commedia’s Paradiso to Cangrande. Judging from the names of the family’s mighty rulers, such as Cangrande (Big Dog) and Mastino I (Mastiff), you might expect their symbol to reflect their peculiar obsession with canines. Instead, when you’re exploring Verona, keep your eyes open for the scala (ladder) that is their trademark.

After the Scaligeri, Verona came under the rule of many other parties, including the Republic of Venice when the city served as an important connection along a trade route between Venice with Genoa. Later, the French and Austrians dominated Verona before it finally joined the Kingdom of Italy in 1866.

A magical city in its own right, Verona is more than Roman ruins, noble palaces and Gothic and Renaissance buildings. Thanks to Luigi da Porta and William Shakespeare, the author and the playwright who eternalized the city in their tales of Romeo and Juliet, Verona retains a certain mystique that attracts so many each year.

Last updated March 18, 2012
Posted in   Italy  |  Verona
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