Piazza delle Erbe: the most beautiful square in the world

Piazza delle Erbe (c) Christian Mueller / Shutterstock.com
Voted "the most beautiful square in the world" by a survey that involved the main international newspapers, Piazza delle Erbe amazes for its Renaissance appearance, for the richness of its buildings and monuments and for its lively and relaxed atmosphere.

Piazza delle Erbe is the oldest square in Verona, for centuries the fulcrum of the social, economic and religious life of the city. Part of its charm comes from the harmonious overlapping of palaces, towers, statues and architectural elements of various ages and styles, creating a unique collage. It was built on the remains of the ancient Roman forum that included a Capitol, Temples and Baths, connected by an arcade that housed many stores. With the Scaligeri became a lively center of art and commerce and during the Venetian domination first and then the Austrian, welcomed the civil and criminal court, while remaining the core of the social life of the city. Today it is the place of movida par excellence: in the many bars and clubs that surround the square, from sunset onwards, you can meet for an aperitivo with a spritz, the drink born in Veneto but now known and loved all over the world. During the day, however, hosts a market that sells fruits, vegetables, souvenirs and typical products. Piazza delle Erbe, is a real open-air museum, framed as it is by palaces, towers and monuments of incomparable historical and artistic value, which have marked the history of the city.

Starting the visit from the eastern side, coming from Via Mazzini, we find ourselves in front of the 13th-century Palazzo del Comune, which was for centuries the center of political power in the city, dominated by the Torre Dei Lamberti, built in 1172 by the family of the same name, which dominates Verona from the height of its 84 meters. If you want to enjoy an incomparable view of the city, all you have to do is take a comfortable elevator to the top. The eastern side of the square hosts the famous Case Mazzanti: among the oldest buildings in Verona, they still preserve on the facade the lively 16th-century frescoes with mythological subjects. On the horizontal side to the north of the square is the baroque Palazzo Maffei, dating back to the 17th century, a sophisticated three-storey building, with a splendid balcony surmounted by statues, and the 13th-century Torre Del Gardello, on top of which is one of the oldest mechanical bell clocks in Europe. Finally, at the corner with Via Pellicciai, stands the majestic Domus Mercatorum, a medieval fortress house built in 1301 by the Scaligeri and transformed several times over the centuries.

Also in the center of the square there are interesting monuments, such as the Fountain of Madonna Verona, built in 1368, with an ancient Roman statue at the top, present in this site since the first century AD and the so-called Capitello, a marble canopy of the 13th century, under which sat the mayor and swore the praetors. And finally, the Colonna Antica, a Gothic pillar surmounted by an aedicule of 14th-century origin, and the Colonna di San Marco, made of white marble in 1523 to sanction the re-established Venetian rule, topped by the lion symbol of Venice. Finally, you cannot leave the square without passing under the Arco della Costa, which leads to the adjacent Piazza dei Signori, so called because a large bone has been hanging there for centuries. According to legend it is a rib lost by the devil, but in reality it seems to be a whale rib used as a sign for one of the spice stores that in the Middle Ages overlooked the square.