Monday, 20 June 2011

Arena di Verona

Verona, home to the most famous lovers in history, Romeo and Juliet but also home to some of the most stunning architecture and the amazing Roman amphitheatre located in the heart of Verona. The arena hosts the Verona Opera festival during the summer months offering  a unique atmosphere, with up to 22,000 spectators at a historical site showcasing a series of open-air opera performances. The festival is the highlight of Verona's musical entertainment and eye-opener to Italian culture. As the epitome of the most sophisticated musical performances, the Verona Opera Festival is an integral part of the summer calendar with professional and world-class performers rendering their best at an immortal festival.

I for one am delighted that the Opera Festival at the Arena of Verona has started and will continue until September the 3rd. Even if you have never been to the Opera before, if you are in Italy this summer and  get the chance to go to Verona try and visit the Arena of Verona grab it!  

Verona has a lot to offer, historic and medieval, the foundations of the city of Verona date back to the 1st century B. C. Under the rule of the Scaliger family during the 13th and 14th centuries, Verona was part of the Republic of Venice from the 15th to the 18th centuries. Displaying many antique monuments from the medieval and the Renaissance periods, the city has been mainly a Roman military stronghold and outpost.

For the past 2000 years, Verona has progressed historically, artistically and culturally as one of the greatest cities in Italy. Many of Shakespeare’s plays have found a historical setting in this city including the balcony from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ that has drawn thousands of tourists to this spot. The Lion of St. Marks exhibits Verona’s link to the Republic of Venice. As the eye traverses quaint and ancient fortresses, monuments and churches of the ages, the most arresting sight has been the Arena that has been transformed into one of the largest opera houses. Surrounded by nature parks and the Adige River, the Arena is a 2000 year old Roman amphitheater, preserved beautifully and centrally located in the middle of the Piazza Bra. Showcasing the legendary summer music festival, the amphitheater apart from the loss of its decorative marble facade and outer wall, is one of the complete pieces of Roman architecture in Verona. The ancient city of Verona is surrounded by walls about 10 kilometers in length erected by the Scaligeri family. The city itself is divided into four parts or zones. The ancient city with its Roman architecture, the Cittadella division which ranges southwards, San Zeno with its Beautiful Cathedral and the Veronetta a originating from the Early Middle Ages.

Come and explore the vibrating heart of Verona and walk through the buzzing Piazza Bra. This is where the trains stop and all the cars are found parked. Beautiful with the arena close by, the curious tourist will find Via Pallone just outside the Piazza, Museo degli Affreschi and Juliet’s tomb. The Piazza is filled with old and memorable monuments such as the Palazzo della Gran Guardia and the Gran Guardia Nuova from where you can go towards the embankment of the Adige and reach Corso Cavour. Two of Verona’s monuments are located here besides Sanmicheli's Palazzo Canossa, the Romanesque church of S. Lorenzo and the Palazzo Bevilacqua, (an unfinished masterpiece by Sanmicheliano) can also be found by the intrepid traveler. The route leads to Porta Borsari, the main entrance to the Roman city and continues to Piazza delle Erbe. Then the Via Cappello leads out from the Piazza and at No. 23 you will find Casa di Giulietta (the house of Juliet Capulet where it is possible to celebrate civil wedding's). Just a short walk will lead to elegant shops.

The Cittadella takes the curious traveler to its center where the Piazza delle Erbe evolves over a historical area filled with monuments and Cathedrals with neoclassical architecture. San Zeno houses the famous S. Zeno Church and the Civic Art Museum. At Veronetta as you cross the Ponte Pietra or the stone bridge, the music loving traveler will find Teatro Romano. As you travel along the embankments, you will find S. Giorgio in Braida built for the Benedictines and finished by Sanmicheli. At the road that leads to Porta Vescovo, you will discover the lovely Giardini Giusti. Verona offers the essence of beauty, culture and the rejuvenating spirit of music.

The magic of the Arena di Verona is incomparable and has to be experienced to be believed. With the intoxicating elements of the Italian passion for opera, the love of a dramatic performance, an instinctive knowledge that stimulates an awesome performance with an acoustically perfect 2000 year old amphitheater, all of this goes towards the creation of an atmosphere that is unique, joyous and magnetic. The 2000 year old Roman Arena in Verona lies across the Adige River that evokes the early ages where Christians were devoured by the lions, where Maria Callas sang her arias and where the greatest singers have rendered amazing performances close to the balcony where Romeo and Juliet fell in love. As the floodlights go down, the excited babble of voices simmers to expectant whispers… and the night is filled with the glow of candlelight reflecting the warmth of the stars… the Verona Opera Festival begins its unforgettable performance that has prompted its ardent followers to come back over and over again to its dynamic midst.

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