The great Arena of Verona
Meet the greatest Opera theatre in the world
Piazza Bra is one of the most popular turistic place in Italy and it was an obliged step during the historical Gran Tour (Lord Byron, Dickens, Mozart, they all stopped here). It is an amazing place, full of great cafès, but the reason of this worldwide fame is that Piazza Bra is the square of the great Arena of Verona.
The Arena was built by the Romans during the 1st century a.C., probably in the period between the two emperors Augusto and Claudio. The Arena has always been a cradle of every kind of show. First the gladiators, then bullfights, chivalric carousels, bingos, even the socalled God’s judgements (old legal practice that consists in judging the innocence or the guilt of a person by fighting a duel). The Arena has been also the scene of bloody events: during the 14th century two Christians would have been martyred here, and in the 1278 the Scala lordship would have ordered to set fire to 200 hereticals. For many decades it had been a brothel used as a place of prostitution.
The walls of the Arena have been used as defensive walls several times: it passed floods, earthquakes and plunders. During the years it has always been restored, thanks to Teodorico, Palladio, even Napoleone, who decided to put it back in order after every sort of accident. The last renovation dates back to 50 years ago.
In the 19th century the Arena became a very important musical theatre, during Rossini and Doninzetti’s period. But the Arena started to be a real Opera house in the 1913, when Verdi’s Aida has been put on scene for the first time. We came to the Arena to watch a modern version of Aida in occasion of the centenary…
The most beautiful show has always been the Arena itself: 2000 years old, but so modern. It is different from the other opera houses, its huge size is a merit just like a sport building, the Arena has got its perfect acoustics and all its changing rooms, warehouses and theatrical structures. The Arena is a great treasure, also and most of all behind the scene!
Main pic courtesy of Giorgio Nicodemo (Flickr user Lullaby_71)
Visit Verona: helpful hints
For international flights there is the Verona Airport, connected to the city centre by bus (rides every 20 minutes, 6€, it takes 15 minutes). The nearest airport for transcontinental flights is Bologna Airport. From the airport, first you have to reach Bologna Central Station by bus (rides every 15 minutes, it takes 30 minuts, 6€). Then either Trenitalia and Italo trains reach Verona in 50 minutes, prices change according to class and services.
Walking is the best way to visit Verona. Anyway you can move by bus, a single ticket costs 1,3€ and it lasts 90 minutes. For more information check the ATV website.
What to do
Verona, the city of love, is in the North Eastern Italy and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Known wordlwide to be the city of Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, here you can visit Juliet’s House with the iconic balcony (“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” – that one). But Verona is famous even more for the Arena di Verona, that is basically the greatest Opera theatre in the world! Check the official website of the Arena for the shows calendar, don’t miss the opportunity to attend a concert sit on this Roman masterpiece (Summer only, of course. No roof, above is only sky, you know). Watch Italia Slow Tour web serie about the city of love.
Last, but not least, Verona is also near the lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy (it takes 30 minutes to Peschiera del Garda or Lazise, 4o minutes to Bardolino, by car).