A WALK BETWEEN HIDDEN, ANCIENT LEGENDS AND MYSTERIOUS ITEMS
Who has never heard of the romantic balcony of Juliet or the famous Arena of Verona, which is a spectacular setting for dozens of concerts and operas every year, or Castelvecchio, the medieval defensive castle of the Scaligeri family, now home to the civic museum. Today we want to guide you to discover another aspect of Verona, which is much less known to both tourists and locals: a short tour to introduce you to some of the many hidden places and objects that characterize this enchanting city. Our walk will start from Corso Cavour, the street where Castelvecchio stands, then we will cross Porta Borsari, an ancient door of the Roman walls which was built in the 1st century AD, and we will continue along Corso Porta Borsari until we reach the oldest square in Verona, Piazza Erbe, and its adjacent sister, Piazza dei Signori.
THE “GENIUS LOCI”
At the end of Corso Cavour and turn left onto Via Diaz, the road that leads from Ponte della Vittoria to Corso Porta Borsari. On the outer wall of one of the buildings on Via Diaz, you can see a very special figure. It is the original Genius loci of the ancient Roman religion, a winged character representing “the genius of the inhabited place and frequented by man”, in other words the protecting genius of the city. The very ancient stone containing this mysterious figure, which is horizontally positioned to touch the pavement now, was historically part of a real temple dedicated to the Genius loci. Nowadays, the Veronese still believe that this supernatural entity has the power to protect every person who passes in front of his, bringing them great fortune. So better take advantage of it!
CORSO PORTA BORSARI
The most important street of Roman Verona contains secrets and hidden treasures at every corner. Already next to the ancient arches of Porta Borsari, you can see a bas-relief representing a cuirass, greaves and a sword, all military symbols used at the beginning to honour the god Mars and later to represent St. George and the Archangel St. Michael.
Walking along Corso Porta Borsari, carefully observe the ancient walls that alternate the shops on the sides of the road. On a building on the corner with Via Catullo, you can see a big head of Medusa, originally part of ancient baths and later used to protect the sepulchres, terrifying the ill-intentioned. On the other side, you can notice a faun with a fish’s tail, or a Triton on a shell according to other interpretations, once belonged to the temple of Jupiter. Here the funerary theme comes back again, and in fact it was believed that these fantastic creatures had the power to accompany the souls of the dead in the world of the Beyond.
THE WELL OF LOVE
Continue on Corso Porta Borsari up to street number 15 and turn right here entering Vicolo San Marco in Foro. After a few steps, you will see a blind alley on your left; here there is Il Pozzo dell’Amore (The Well of Love). This ancient well, which is made of real local stone and wrought iron, is linked to a tragic love story, then became a legend: the story between the soldier Corrado of San Bonifazio and Isabella of Donati family. We are in Verona of the early sixteenth century, and in particular between 1509 and 1516, under the dominion of the Emperor Maximilian. The young Corrado had hopelessly fallen in love with the beautiful Isabella, but the woman seemed not to match his feelings and refused his courtship. The story goes that one evening, during a walk, Corrado accused Isabella of being as cold as the water in the well that was next to them at that moment and, in response, she challenged him to throw himself into the well to feel if the water was truly so cold. It was full winter, but Corrado, who was trying in every way to conquer his beloved, decided to accept her challenge and unfortunately drowned. Isabella, who was actually in love with the young man, felt so terribly guilty about what had happened that she chose to die with him following him into the cold well. Since then, that well has been known throughout the world as Il Pozzo dell’Amore (The Well of Love) and it is visited by millions of lovers every year. Stop you too, for a moment, to admire it, thinking back to this sad love story. Engraved on a brass plaque, you will read:
“Throw in the well a single penny, think about your destiny for a moment, don’t get distracted, don’t make noise … here it is … here it comes … love comes!”.
THE ARC OF THE RIB
At the end of Corso Porta Borsari, you will see the amazing Piazza Erbe in front of you. Cross the square leaving the numerous restaurants and aperitif bars on your left until you reach the Arco della Costa (The Arc of the Rib), the arch that separates Piazza Erbe from Piazza dei Signori (this one also known as Piazza Dante, for the statue of Dante that stands in its centre). Look up and you will notice a very special bone. The stories linked to it are numerous and mysterious. Some people talk about a rib of a whale or an ichthyosaur, a large prehistoric marine reptile, others instead believe that it is a rib of the devil, and many others tell of a fossil which was found by the ancient inhabitants of Verona in the surrounding mountains and then hung there to protect the city itself. A fourth hypothesis, which has already been denied, is the one of the relics brought to Verona by some crusaders returning from the Holy Land, in the second half of the sixteenth century; the mysterious object is present in an eighteenth-century print, but not in a painting of the first half of the seventeenth century. The most accredited hypothesis, however, remains that of an advertising banner of the historic pharmacy located just below the arch. It was believed, in fact, that the powder obtained by grating whale bones had a strong healing power.
Have we caught your attention? So, book now your stay in one of the structures of the International Europe Hotel group and immerse yourself too in the legends and myths of Verona.