Italy: Verona

Verona (Italian pronunciation: [veˈroːna] (About this sound listen); Venetian: Verona or Veròna) is a city on the Adige river in Veneto, Italy, with approximately 257,000 inhabitants and one of the seven provincial capitals of the region. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third largest in northeast Italy. The metropolitan area of Verona covers an area of 1,426 km2 (550.58 sq mi) and has a population of 714,274 inhabitants. It is one of the main tourist destinations in northern Italy, owing to its artistic heritage, several annual fairs, shows, and operas, such as the lyrical season in the Arena, the ancient amphitheater built by the Romans.

Two of Shakespeare's plays are set in Verona: Romeo and Juliet and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. It is unknown if Shakespeare ever visited Verona or Italy at all, but his plays have lured many visitors to Verona and surrounding cities. The city has been awarded World Heritage Site status by UNESCO because of its urban structure and architecture.

The exclamation Vae Romae if understood in Latin means "Alas Rome". In fact, to express distress or denounce a disgrace ancient Romans used the Latin interjection vae. So, you also explain the famous poem by William Shakespeare "There is no world without Verona walls, But purgatory, torture, hell itself. Hence-banished is banish'd from the world, And world's exile is death.". The writer would express a Roman concept through its character named Romeo, a name that invokes Rome, according to which the city of Verona was a boundary between the Roman world and barbaric one. Verona was a place of passage and to place horses, for those who wanted to go and had walked the Via Claudia Augusta, the Roman road that led over the Alps, or that led to Rome. So the expression Vae Romae "Alas Rome" would indicate spirit of the place, the "genius loci" of the city, expression of a spirit then called Verona. The exclamation Vae Romae would be the expression of the spirit that pervaded the Romans who left the place with a sense of anguish, this expression would later become the name for the place, that is "Alas Roma", which then turned into Verona.

Another theory is that it is connected to the river. "Vera" was a name of the river Adige before the adoption of the current name. As in many similar instances in Europe the name of the town is formed with the addition of suffix -ona which means settlement over.

Historically Verona was called Bern in German, with variations like Welschbern and Dietrichsbern serving to differentiate the town from Bern in Switzerland.

The year 1387 is also the year of the famous Battle of Castagnaro, between Giovanni Ordelaffi, for Verona, and John Hawkwood, for Padua, who was the winner.

Antonio's son Canfrancesco attempted in vain to recover Verona (1390). Guglielmo (1404), natural son of Cangrande II, was more fortunate; with the support of the people, he drove out the Milanese, but he died ten days after, and Verona then submitted to Venice (1405). The last representatives of the Scaligeri lived at the imperial court and repeatedly attempted to recover Verona by the aid of popular risings.

From 1508 to 1517, the city was in the power of the Emperor Maximilian I. There were numerous outbreaks of the plague, and in 1629–33 Italy was struck by its worst outbreak in modern times. Around 33,000 people died in Verona (over 60 per cent of the population at the time) in 1630–1631.

In 1776 was developed a method of bellringing called Veronese bellringing art. Verona was occupied by Napoleon in 1797, but on Easter Monday the populace rose and drove out the French. It was then that Napoleon made an end of the Venetian Republic. Verona became Austrian territory when Napoleon signed the Treaty of Campo Formio in October 1797. The Austrians took control of the city on 18 January 1798. It was taken from Austria by the Treaty of Pressburg in 1805 and became part of Napoleon's Kingdom of Italy, but was returned to Austria following Napoleon's defeat in 1814, when it became part of the Austrian-held Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia.

The Congress of Verona, which met on 20 October 1822, was part of the series of international conferences or congresses that opened with the Congress of Vienna in 1814–15 - and marked the effective breakdown of the "Concert of Europe".

The Roman military settlement in what is now the centre of the city was to expand through the cardines and decumani that intersect at right angles. This structure has been kept to the present day and is clearly visible from the air. Further development has not reshaped the original map. Though the Roman city with its basalt-paved roads is mostly hidden from view it stands virtually intact about 6 m below the surface. Most palazzi and houses have cellars built on Roman artifacts that are rarely accessible to visitors. Piazza delle Erbe, near the Roman forum was rebuilt by Cangrande I and Cansignorio della Scala I, lords of Verona, using material (such as marble blocks and statues) from Roman spas and villas.

Verona is famous for its Roman amphitheatre, the Arena, found in the city's largest piazza, the Piazza Bra. Completed around 30 AD, it is the third largest in Italy after Rome's Colosseum and the arena at Capua. It measures 139 metres long and 110 metres wide, and could seat some 25,000 spectators in its 44 tiers of marble seats. The ludi (shows and gladiator games) performed within its walls were so famous that they attracted spectators from far beyond the city. The current two-story façade is actually the internal support for the tiers; only a fragment of the original outer perimeter wall in white and pink limestone from Valpolicella, with three stories remains.The interior is very impressive and is virtually intact, and has remained in use even today for public events, fairs, theatre and open-aired opera during warm summer nights.

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