Piazza delle Erbe, the ancient Roman forum
Piazza delle Erbe is an enchanted corner of Verona, perhaps the truest. A corner where palaces, towers, statues and architectural elements from various eras overlap, creating a harmonious, unique and unrepeatable layered collage. In international guides it is described as one of the most beautiful squares in Italy.
For many centuries Piazza Erbe was the hub of the social, economic and religious life of Verona. In Roman times it housed the Forum, of which the current square is the original length: there were the Campidoglio, Temples and Baths, connected by a portico that housed numerous shops. During the communal period it was the seat of political power and with the Scaligeri it became a lively center of arts and commerce. During the Venetian domination first and then the Austrian one, it welcomed the civil and criminal court, but it always remained the meeting place and favorite market of the Veronese. Starting the visit from the eastern side of the square, the one on the right coming from via Mazzini, first of all we find the thirteenth-century Palazzo della Ragione (also called Del Comune), which for centuries was the center of the city's political power.
In its rooms there were the Collegio dei Notai, the Dazio della Seta, the Magistrate's Court, the Assize Court and the prisons, but always on the ground floor there were shops and shops. Devastated by numerous fires, it owes its current appearance to the architect Giuseppe Barbieri who, in the nineteenth century, had the façade facing the square renovated in a neoclassical style very different from the original Romanesque structure. The building is dominated by the Torre dei Lamberti, built in 1172 by the family of the same name following the Romanesque style typical of the time and still visible today in the lower part, made with bricks alternating with tuff. Over the centuries it has undergone various elevations, in a succession of materials and styles that are always happily in tune with each other, until 1464 when, with the addition of the octagonal belfry, it reached 84 meters and became the highest tower in Verona. From the rear courtyard of the Mercato Vecchio you can access the top by lift, enjoying an incomparable view of the city. The adjacent thirteenth-century Casa dei Giudici also had various and important functions over the centuries: initially used as the residence-office of the Podestà with the name of Domus Nova, it became the seat of the city councils and residence of the judges sent from Venice during the Serenissima.
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