Dwight Peck's personal website

Sirmione and the neighborhood, May 2016

Ten days in the home of the Scaligeri and the heretics

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Verona (2): Piazza delle Erbe, Sant'Anastasia

We've been tramping through the Castelvecchio and its brilliant museum, and now we're ready for Phase 2 of our visit.

This is the somewhat reconstructed Gavi dei Arco, or Gavi Arch, now next to the Castelvecchio at the riverside, not far from its original location on the decumanus maximus high street, now the Corso Cavour, which was also the Via Postumia, the Roman road leading past Cremona and Piacenza to Genoa to the west and to Aquilea to the east. The original was commissioned by the Gavi clan in the early-mid 1st century AD, but was converted into a city gate in the Middle Ages. It was destroyed by Napoleon's engineers but reconstructed from original plans and materials in 1932.

The Ponte di Castelvecchio from downstream, destroyed by retreating Germans but reconstructed in 1949-1951, except for the tower on the farther bank. At the time of its original construction, probably in 1356, the largest arch was the longest in the known world.

Side streets back towards the Piazza Bra

The Arena of Verona, the amphitheatre in the huge Piazza Bra -- built in about AD 30 with a capacity of 30,000 spectators, it has excellent acoustics and is still in regular use for a full opera schedule (we saw Aïda there in the 1980s) as well as pop concerts with top-tier groups.

The Piazza Bra, a popular hangout

The outer ring of the Arena was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 1117, leaving only that wing in the centre of the photo, and the fallen stone was used for the reconstruction of the rest of the city.

A handsome 'aedicula' or small free-standing shrine

In the Via Giuseppe Mazzini, the Torre dei Lamberti in the background

Romulus and Remus ornaments on the Via Quattro Spade and Via Mazzini

Via Quattro Spade ("Four Swords Street")

The southeastern end of the Piazza delle Erbe, and the Lamberti Tower on the Palazzo del Comune


The Piazza delle Erbe, originally the Roman Forum or nearly so, known as the Piazza Grande in medieval times, and now the market square

The Colonna del Mercato, a Gothic market column and an 'aedicule' or small shrine to St Zeno on this side and a bunch of other saints on the others, erected by the Visconti in 1401

Mostly off-the-back-of-the-truck odds and ends

The Domus Mercatorum, or Casa dei Mercanti, the guild hall of the city's merchants, originally built of wood in 1210 but rebuilt in stone in 1301 by Alberto I della Scala as a hall for wool traders. Restored in the 19th century, it's now a bank's headquarters.

The Lamberti Tower or Torre dei Lamberti, 84m high, was begun in 1172, restored and heightened in the 15th century after a lightning strike in 1403; the clock dates from 1779.

The Palazzo del Comune, or Palazzo della Ragione, said to be the oldest city hall in Italy, was built in about 1193 and quickly absorbed the Lamberti Tower and three others, now deceased.

The Arco della Costa (Arch of the Rib) between the buildings, with suspended behind it, a huge curved whale's rib (red dot) that's going to fall on top of the first honest person to walk underneath it.

The "Tribuna", 16th century centrepiece of civic ceremonies and station of the market arbitrator, adjudicating commercial disputes and punishing malefactors

The Fontana di Madonna Verona -- the fountain was built in 1368, to celebrate the completion of an aquaduct into the city, by Consignorio della Scale, but the "Madonna Verona" is a resurrected Roman sculpture from AD 380.

Frescoed buildings

The baroque Palazzo Maffei, built from 1469 to 1668 by the noble Maffei family, fronted by a 16th century St Mark's Lion on a pedestal, presumably celebrating the city's re-subjection by Venice

The Corso Sant'Anastasia, approaching the church of that name

The Basilica di Sant'Anastasia, built by the Dominicans between 1280 and 1400 ('what's the hurry?'). Replacing a church to St Anastasia built by Theodoric the Great, it was co-dedicated in 1307 to the 13th century martyr St Peter of Verona, the one with the meat cleaver in his head. The façade was never completed.

Above the Piazza di Sant'Anastasia, the tomb of Guglielmo da Castelbarco, a Della Scala supporter who died in 1320.

That's St Peter there, in those panels by the doors. One of the things that Verona, and Sirmione as well, were best known for in the 12th to 14th centuries was the prevalence of heretics, homegrown anti-clerical Patarenes ('ragpickers') as well as the Cathars from all over (a sanctuary for many years for the Cathars fleeing the 'Albigensian Crusade' in southern France) -- it was they who in 1252 hired the guys with the meat cleaver (Carino and Clitorus) that put an end to the Dominican St Peter's career as the General Inquisitor of northern Italy.

A disgruntled hunchback, by Gabrieli Caliari, Veronese's eldest son

And other one, by someone else

A single nave with two aisles, the largest church in Verona, with altars along the sides and six chapels along the transept

The Boldieri Altar just left of the front doors, St Peter Martyr of Verona flanked by Saints Sebastian and Rocco

Kristin in the nave

The 15th century Miniscalchi Altar and the organ, from 1625

Chapels in the transept

Atop the Pelligrini Chapel, that is Pisanello's fresco of St George and the Princess (on the right side above the arch). How do we know that?

We've learnt it from the TV show.

Very educational

The large presbytery and altar. The guy on the horse is Cortesia Serego, a trusted military commander of the Scaligers and son-in-law of Cansignorio della Scala.

The entrance and rose window

The Giusti Chapel, extending beyond the left transept

St Peter of the Meat Cleaver, in misericordia mode

And next, the Duomo

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 17 July 2016.

Lago di
Garda region

Trento trip
Dec. 2013

Sirmione trip
May 2016

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