Exploring the Veneto Cities: Verona, Vicenza, and Treviso

When it comes to selecting Italian destinations for a summer getaway, Verona, Vicenza, and Treviso might not be the top three cities that come to mind to escape the summer heat. However, a dear friend and I decided to make the most of a few days off to explore some of Italy’s most significant cities that we hadn’t yet had the chance to visit, not even during our school days.

Below, I’ll share some personal tips for exploring Verona, and in the next article, Vicenza, all in just one day.

Verona: What to See in a Day

Must-see places:

  • Castelvecchio Museum: Designed by Carlo Scarpa in the 1950s, this museum is housed within a medieval castle built in the 14th century on the orders of Cangrande II della Scala. A must-visit is the walk across the Castelvecchio Bridge, reconstructed after being damaged during World War II.
  • Verona Arena: Even if time is limited, you can still admire the exterior of this ancient amphitheatre.
  • Panorama from Castel San Pietro. A pleasant walk from the city centre takes you to Castel San Pietro, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the Adige River.
  • Scaliger Tombs. These funerary monuments are located near the church of Santa Maria Antica, in Verona’s historic centre, just steps away from Piazza delle Erbe, the city’s oldest square.
Verona Arena

The Significance of Castelvecchio

The Castelvecchio Museum has undergone various transformations over the centuries, but Carlo Scarpa‘s intervention has turned it into an icon of Italian museography. Here, artworks interact with the architecture, transforming the museum itself into a work of art. The most notable example of Scarpa’s intervention is the placement of the equestrian statue of Cangrande I della Scala. Positioned outside under a canopy that intersects exhibition paths, the statue becomes modern and visible from every angle. The work we see here was originally positioned on the Scaliger Tombs (Arche Scaligere in Italian), where a copy now stands.

Even Cangrande’s successor, Mastino II, has his statue in the museum. Here, the helmet completely covers the condottiero’s head. This animal symbolism, reminiscent of the totem animals of Native Americans, is captivating.

Cangrande della Scala: An Important Historical Figure

As a member of the “Scaligeri” family, Cangrande elevated Verona to the capital of medieval Europe. Under his rule, the city prospered, erecting defensive walls and becoming a cultural centre. Even the poet Dante Alighieri found hospitality at his court. Cangrande is Verona’s most significant historical figure, and his symbol, the Scala, is present in various corners and buildings of the city.

Scaligeri family symbol

The Origin of the Name “Cangrande”

The unusual name “Cangrande” has sparked many interpretations. Legend has it that the night before his birth, his mother dreamt of a dog whose barks filled the Earth. Court astrologers interpreted this dream as a good omen and added the word “dog(cane) to the name Francesco: Can Francesco. Another interpretation suggests that “Can” is an Italianized version of “Khan,” a term used in Eastern cultures to refer to a tribal leader.

Exploring Verona in Two Days

If you have two days at your disposal, I recommend visiting Palazzo Maffei and the Giusti Garden, which I will discuss in upcoming articles. If you’re looking to venture beyond Verona’s centre and have access to a car, consider continuing your journey to Bassano del Grappa and Marostica, the latter known for its chessboard square. For enthusiasts of distilled spirits, a stop at the Poli Distillery on your way to Vicenza is a must. This family has been producing grappa since 1898, and their museum tells the story of these beverages.

Marostica square

In the next article, we’ll explore what Vicenza has to offer. Safe travels and… happy summer!

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