NOT EVERYONE KNOWS THAT…
UNMISSABLE FOOD, LOCAL PRODUCTS AND EVENTS
Local dishes of Veronese cuisine are BOLLITO CON LA PEARA ’, beef accompanied by a sauce based on grated bread, cheese, marrow, broth and black pepper. GNOCCHI, an exquisite dough made with potatoes, white flour and eggs, to be enjoyed with tomato sauce or with sugar and cinnamon. PASTA AND FASOI, a dish born from the imagination of the poor. Authentic PASTISSADA DE CAVAL, a delicacy prepared according to an old one-thousand-five-hundred-year-old recipe: according to tradition, at the end of the battle fought in 489 between Teodorico, King of the Ostrogoths, and Odoacer, King of the Barbarians, there were hundreds and hundreds of horses lying dead on the ground. The hungry Veronese, not wanting all that meat to be wasted, shredded it and put it to soak in the fuller red wine of Valpolicella, flavouring it with plenty of spices and vegetables, to be able to consume it if necessary, cooking it over a low heat. POLENTA, the typical nourishment of the poor peasants of the Po valley, which is prepared with corn meal cooked in salted water. For it to be truly Veronese, it must be eaten with well-cooked beans (POLENTA INFASOLA) or as an accompaniment to game (polenta and osei).
In the land where Nano Vialone Veronese rice is produced, excellent risottos are also enjoyed: first of all the famous RISO AL TASTASAL, with its delicious mixture of pork. But also, RISO COI BISI, boiled rice with peas; the Radicchio Rosso and Monte Veronese risotto; the RISOTTO ALL'AMARONE, with the precious Red Wine of Valpolicella. The sopressa, a special and very tasty "salami", made by mixing pork with garlic, red wine, salt and pepper. The TORTELLINI DI VALEGGIO (or NODI D'AMORE), made with a dough pulled thin like silk, cut and knotted like a handkerchief, after having enriched it with a delicate filling based on various meats.
La Pearà: the legend of Rosmunda
If the Pandoro has made Verona famous in the dessert world and can be eaten anywhere, the Pearà, as we mentioned earlier, a local sauce based on old bread, broth, cheese and pepper, although prepared in other places, only becomes a ‘cult’ food in the city of Romeo and Juliet: it’s practically unavoidable in terms of local dishes. So much so that a true Veronese - even admitting the innate vocation of Pearà - to accompany the 'LESSO', the local boiled meat, is ready to eat it even in mid-August, even without the meat alongside.
And what about the legend about its origin? Well, it seems to have been invented by the court cook of Alboino, king of the Lombards. There was a need for food capable of restoring strength to Queen Rosmunda, who, by being forced to marry against her will, was refusing to eat, with the intention of dying of hunger. After having been forced to drink from the skull of Father Cunimondo, the 'peppery' dish - from here the dialectal name of pearà - had the desired effect, and Rosmunda and her lover Elmichi ended up murdering Alboino.
Simple and delicious, this has been the official dish of the Verona Carnival for five centuries. In 1531 a severe famine brought the city to the brink of a civil revolt, in the San Zeno district, which at the time was the poorest and most populated of the city. To restore calm, the City Council, led by the noble Tommaso Da Vico, had large quantities of bread, wine, flour, butter, eggs and cheese distributed to the people on the last Friday before Lent. In his will Tommaso Da Vico left a legacy stating that every year, on that day, food would be freely distributed to the inhabitants of San Zeno. From this episode originated the tradition of Friday Gnocolar, the main event of the Verona carnival.
Pandoro was born in Verona: Tourists with their noses in the air to admire the "pandori"
It happens more and more often, passing through Corso Porta Borsari to meet groups of tourists who, at number 21, are invited by the guide to look up, to admire the tuffs framed by the palace, depicting two pandoros.
The two pandoros testify that, in this building, Domenico Melegatti invented and baked the first pandoro. The most famous dessert in Verona, which has conquered the tables of all Italy and further afield. Pandoro, the Christmas cake par excellence made with flour, eggs, sugar and butter. It has a tall and slender shape, with a ribbed design; coated with vanilla sugar, it is highly appreciated for its soft and light pastry, for its delicate flavour and fragrant scent, during the festivities it excels on the tables of the Veronese, although some pastry shops still prepare the NADALIN, its medieval ancestor. The Pandoro was made in 1894 by Domenico Melegatti in his workshop in Corso Porta Borsari;
Verona Carnival, the oldest in Europe
The origins of the Verona Carnival date back to the late Middle Ages and can, therefore, be considered one of the oldest carnivals in the world. The entire population of Verona comes alive and participates in it, and it reaches its peak on last Friday before Lent, when the centre is paralysed by a parade of float.
The traditional carnival masks of Verona are many and represent all the districts of the city. The most famous are :
- Papa del Gnoco (Quartiere San Zeno): born in 1531, it is the oldest mask in Italy. He is the King of the Veronese carnival and also takes part in many carnivals in the province. The Venardi Gnocolàr is his day (and the day of the allegorical parade of Verona);
- Duca della Pignata (Quartiere S. Stefano): since 1884 he has his feast on the last Monday of Carnival (el Luni Pignatàr or Fat Monday), which takes place in Piazza Santo Stefano (near Ponte Pietra). Along with him is El Dio de l'oro;
- El Principe Reboano de la concordia (Filippini Quarter): this is the mask of the historic district of the city, along the right bank of the Adige. His day is the Saturday of the Carnival week, the day in which the historical regatta is also held;
- King Saltucchio and Queen Catherine (Porto San Pancrazio district): this is celebrated on Shrove Tuesday;
- King Theodoric (District Carega and Old Town);
Nearby Points of Interest:
Porta Borsari 50 m
Sant'Eufemia 20 m
Ponte Pietra 350 m
Piazza delle Erbe 300 m
Fontana Madonna Verona 300 m
La Torre dei Lamberti 300 m
Casa di Giulietta 350 m
Piazza Bra 300 m
Piazza dei Signori 300 m
Arena di Verona 300 m
Teatro Romano 300 m
Castelvecchio 300 m
The Arena together with Juliet's house is the monument for which Verona is famous in Italy and in the world. It is the third largest Roman amphitheater after the Colosseum and the arena of Capua. It can hold about 20,000 people, believed to be the entire population of Verona in the 1st Century AD, a period that dates back to the construction of the monument. It was built just outside the city walls, still partly visible behind the amphitheater, in a large open space that, with the construction of the new walls in the XIIth Century, would have become Piazza Bra. Of course it was not to watch works or concerts that the Arena was built. The amphitheaters were in fact the place where the ancient Romans witnessed gladiator fights and other bloody shows. The name Arena, in fact means "sand", and derives from the sand placed at the bottom of the amphitheater and which had the task of absorbing the blood of the combatants. It is not clear, on the other hand, whether naumachie ever took place in the Arena, the battles of ships carried out in amphitheaters that were filled with water for the occasion.
Along the ancient Roman cardo maximus, the current Via Cappello, there is a medieval tower-house through whose entrance hall leads to the courtyard of the house itself. We are talking about the famous Casa di Giulietta or the Dal Cappello, the spice merchants who developed their homes here first with two adjacent medieval towers and later with a later construction. The courtyard was originally larger and did not have the two 16th century additions that now house a souvenir shop and the foyer of the Nuovo theater, as well as an apartment building from the early 1900s. At the end of the sixties of the twentieth century a bronze statue depicting Juliet was placed in the courtyard with which tourists and lovers love to be photographed. William Shakespeare, the great English writer who made the tragedy famous and the city of Verona, seems to have never been here. And whether the two Veronese young people, Romeo and Juliet, existed or not, this site remains one of the most visited in the city, indicating that the unfortunate theme of love is always current.
CASTELVECCHIO AND PONTE SCALIGERO
Castelvecchio and its splendid fortified bridge, besides being the most important military monument of the Signoria Scaligera is today, for Verona, a decisive factor in urban and landscape space. When it was built by Cangrande II della Scala, in 1354, it was called Castello di San Martino in Acquaro, from the name of the pre-existing church which was later incorporated into the castle. It was called Castelvecchio, when, after the construction of the "new" Visconti castle on the top of the hill of San Pietro (1398), it became "old". Therefore, the medieval fortress is now home to one of the richest and most admired museums in Italy. The Ponte Scaligero, completed within three years, between 1354-56, had no other function than to ensure an escape route from the Castle towards the countryside and Germany, where the son-in-law of Cangrande II reigned, Ludovico il Bavaro.
The Roman Theater is the oldest building in Verona. Its construction dates back to the end of I century BC It was built near the San Pietro hill, taking advantage of the natural slope of the land to build the tiers, as the Greeks did before the Romans. Despite its conditions, the Roman Theater, like the Arena, is still used today. In fact, in summer the Shakespearean Festival and the Verona Jazz Festival take place. With the same ticket to the theater, you can visit the Archaeological Museum of Verona which found its place in the ex-convent of the Gesuati, built sheer above the theater and where the numerous artifacts that the city of Verona gave and continues to have been placed still give today.
The Tower owes its name to the first owners, the Lamberti, and most likely was the greatest exponent of the family, Bozeno de Lamberto, in 1172 to commission the artifact. A few decades later, the Tower becomes an integral part of the building of the Municipality of Verona, built around it due to its strategic position, and is raised several times until it reaches the current height of mt. 83, which imposes it as the highest tower in the city.
Verona is full of famous places and famous stories, a city that is easily explored on foot. Like all cities, however, it has many other stories that few know, anecdotes and legends that are hidden among bricks, cobblestones and red roofs.
Allow me to guide you in discovering some curiosities about Verona.
Well of lovers (and we are not talking about Romeo and Juliet!)
The most famous love story ever, that of Romeo and Juliet, hides all the other romantic events that took place within the city walls.
The well of lovers, hidden between houses and alleys, is the symbol of love between Corrado di San Bonifazio, a young soldier, and Isabella Donati, set in the sixteenth century. Legend has it that Corrado was in love with the young woman, who, at least apparently, did not reciprocate. One day the two youths met near this well and he told her that she seemed cold and icy like the water from that well.
The girl, to challenge him, told him to jump to see if the water was frozen as he believed. Corrado, now desperate and resigned, threw himself in and Isabella, feeling guilt and love for him, threw herself into the well, disappearing with him. So no happy love stories in this city!
To reach the Pozzo: once at number 15 of Corso Porta Borsari, turn left into Vicolo San Marco in Foro. After a few meters, on the left, there is a closed alley with the Pozzo San Marco or Pozzo degli Innamorati (Well of lovers).
A Synagogue in the city center
Walking through the city centre it is easy to notice the Synagogue of Verona (1864), built where the Jewish ghetto used to be. It is located in a narrow street parallel to Via Mazzini, the famous shopping street of Verona, which is why it often goes unnoticed.
Le Arche Scaligere and the moving grates
Just behind Piazza Erbe and Piazza Dante are the Scaliger Tombs, the tombs of the Della Scala lords, who ruled Verona from 1262 to 1387. But what few know is that a part of the wrought iron gate, which represents the symbol of the family, is mobile. This is the original one, the parts made more recently are fixed. Try to move them.
Castle of San Pietro
The Colle di S.Pietro is undoubtedly the vantage point in the city: the most characteristic route to reach it is the Roman bridge, known as Ponte Pietra. After crossing the Adige river, you will reach a fairly busy road; immediately take the almost hidden Stairway Castel San Pietro next to the monumental remains of the Roman Theatre. It is a narrow road all uphill and with steps, which progressively moves away from traffic, descending into the relaxed and peaceful atmosphere of the Veronetta district.
The path is flanked by charming houses, adorned with balconies with flowering plants and the monumental remains of the Roman Theatre, still used in summer for concerts and theatrical performances. After about twenty minutes you will arrive at the magnificent terrace of S.Pietro dominated by the bulk of the Hapsburg fortress of the same name and by green cypresses: effort paid off, the 360degree views of Verona are terrific! The view is even more impressive at sunset or in the dazzling light of cold winter days.
If you are not very sporty or perhaps you feel hot from the summer heat, you have the possibility to go up to the terrace with the funicular. Not everyone knows that even Verona, if only for a few years, from 1941 to 1944, was equipped with one, which was restored in June 2017. A large cabin allows us to overcome in just a few minutes a drop of about 50 meters and to easily reach the panoramic terrace of Castel S.Pietro. The funicular ticket office is just a few steps away from the church of Santo Stefano and a return ticket costs just 2 euros. I suggest this experience to those who are in Verona for the first time but also to those who frequent the city more often to admire Verona from another perspective!
This is an institution famous for the antiquity and preciousness of its manuscripts, so much so that it was defined by the paleographer Elias Avery Lowe (1879-1969) as "the queen of ecclesiastical collections".
With respect to other libraries it claims the primacy of antiquity in the area of Latin culture.
It originates, in fact, in the 5th century. Christ as an emanation of the "Scriptorium" (= book workshop) that the priests of the Schola Majoris Ecclesiae, that is, the Canons of the Chapter (from which the adjective "capitular") of the Cathedral, carried out work for the composition of books on parchment, that is sheep’s leather, for the education and disciplinary and religious training of future priests.
Shopping in the Roman ruins
Via Mazzini is the shopping street, but not everyone would expect to find Roman remains in the middle of a store. In the Benetton basement this is possible. Try going down the stairs and take a look.
........ many other things would have to be said about this historic city, but I don't want to reveal every surprise. I hope you come to visit Verona because, walking through the buildings, churches and squares, you will be able to experience for yourself the unique emotions that this city can offer. Verona awaits you!