The Domus Nova closes the eastern side of Piazza dei Signori and is located at the division with Piazza delle Erbe. In the communal era, it was the seat of the office and residence of the Podestà, sometimes of the Vicars, as well as of sporadic meetings of the Minor Councils. During the Venetian rule it was the seat of the Assessors and the Vicar of the Podestà.
At number 20 in Piazza dei Signori, on the side facing Piazza delle Erbe, an inscription, probably affixed after 1868, reads: 'The Veronese had a palace built here in 1273 for assessor judges, which largely fell down in 1511 due to an earthquake and was later reduced to its present form'.
History of the building
A focal point in the history of the Domus Nova is the ownership of the building that has never been straightforward. At first, the palace was owned by the Venetian public treasury, later - however - the reconstruction and renovation of the building, during the 17th century, was undertaken by the town hall.
The building already existed in pre-Scaliger times and was called 'Domus Nova Communis Veronae': the name suggests that it belonged to the town hall.
With the rise of the Scaligers, the building continued to be the seat of the Podestà and underwent an extension in 1273. A turning point came with the Venetian domination: in the 15th century, the Podestà's Assessors, travelling around the mainland, needed a dwelling and so moved and worked in this building: it is reasonable to assume that the building - in light of its purpose specifically dedicated to serve the interests of the Venetian judicial policy - was incorporated into the Serenissima.
Pre 1511 (Year of the earthquake)
In the 16th century, according to the various documents examined, the building belonged to the Venetian public treasury, except for the workshops: in the 1300s-1500s, the level of the Domus Nova dedicated to the workshops was already privately owned.
In this period, a first form of privatisation of the area between Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza dei Signori took place.
The City Council rose up against this initiative and with the resolution of 1504 appointed an orator to beg the Dominio and cancel the sale; the latter was considered detrimental to the general interest: the purchaser, in fact, wanted to set up a workshop in those spaces. The city council's complaints were accepted and the cancellation of the sale was ordered.
The first attempts at privatisation and the consequent rejections were put back on the table by the City Council during the period of the imperial interregnum over Verona (1511-1517); in fact, in the face of some pressing liquidity needs, the Council was forced to make some alienations concerning the Domus Nova, which in the meantime had partly collapsed in 1511 due to an earthquake and had actually become unserviceable as a residence for judges.
After the collapse of the façade in 1648, the city council began to move to renovate the building, commissioning those in charge to ascertain the reasons for what was left of the palace, so that they could pay for it.
To rebuild the façade, the Council came to a final decision in 1659: according to the proposed design, a three-arched façade was agreed. Five masons were elected to supervise the work and the assets to be used were determined.
The work was entrusted to the bricklayer Stefano Panizza and the stonemason Francesco Marchesini. Marchesini was largely responsible for the design. Through the civil registries of the Santa Maria Antica district, it can be seen that as early as 1675, the Muselli family owned workshops and dwellings there.
The Muselli Family
A very old family that in 1279 had the honour of giving the country the judge Irecco Muselli. It is not known whether the family was sent into exile or spontaneously moved to Torri: here it had large estates and remained until the mid-15th century. Around 1400, Giovanni Muselli returned to Verona and in 1459 was granted citizenship: this event is recorded in the Campione d’Estimo 'De Muselo de Turri Joannes creatuscivis 5 Febb. 1459 de S. Euf'. His grandchildren were later aggregated to the Noble Council of the Homeland and obtained the title of Marquises and other honours.
There lived the Marquis Giovanni Francesco, Archpriest of the Cathedral and commendable person for having contributed to make the Chapter Library as it is today. The Marquis Giacomo, the latter's grandson, collected a conspicuous number of medals, created a Museum, and was given the title of Marquis by the King of Poland, to whom he gave the illustration of the Museum. Finally, there was Joseph, Archpriest of the Cathedral.
From 1800 to the present days
In the places where Gelateria Impero is now located, there has (always) been a barbershop since the late 1800s. In the 1950s, the barber shop was run by a certain Antonio Martinello; in 1972, the business was taken over by Mario Formigari, who practised there as a barber until 2014.