Piazza Bra and Palazzi del Liston
Piazza Bra is the largest square in Verona and is located in the historic centre. The name 'Bra' derives from a corruption of the word 'braida', which derives from the Longobard word breit, meaning 'wide'. The widening began to take the form of a square in the second half of the 16th century, when the architect Michele Sanmicheli completed the Honorij Palace: this building delimited the western side of the widening.
In the 17th century, the construction of the Gran Guardia and the seat of the Philarmonic Academy of Verona began. In the same period, the square was levelled as much as possible, although the space remained in rammed earth for another hundred and fifty years. The foundations of the Liston were laid only in 1770, at the behest of Podestà Alvise Mocenigo.
Liston is a Venetian word that is equivalent to the Italian word 'listone', and means 'big list, wide strip'. In the past, the word 'liston' was also common in other towns in Veneto and in neighbouring regions. Many cities in Veneto have their own liston. The Liston in Verona is a wide paved pavement that runs alongside the Bra and connects Corso Porta Nuova to Via Mazzini.
Between the 1780s and the end of the 1800s the Liston was the subject of two important projects: that of Francesco Menegatti and that of Luigi Trezza (mentioned above). The Liston is a public walkway on which stand some of the most beautiful buildings in Verona. The closest building to the Bra Gates, at the corner with Via Roma, is Ottolini Vaccari Palace: it was built around 1764 by the architect M. Castellazzi, who followed the style of Sanmicheli.
Righettini - Fracasso - Gianfilippi - Fraccaroli Palace (Olivo1939)
At number 18 in Piazza Bra is Fracasso-Gianfilippi Palace, also known as Righettini Palace or Fraccaroli Palace: the palace is of 16th-century origin, as confirmed by a fresco attributed to Giovanni Francesco Caroto that decorates its façade. A painting with a Marian subject dominates the façade: it is the 16th-century 'Virgin Mary with the Child and Angels' by Caroto. The existence of this palace and its belonging to Righetto Righettini are evidenced by a sketch from 1514. On the façade, in addition to the painting by Caroto, there is a wall plaque commemorating the episode occured on 8 March 1867, where Giuseppe Garibaldi greeted the people of Verona by saying 'O Roma, o la morte' (Rome or death).
Giovanni Francesco Caroto
Giovanni Francesco Caroto was born in Verona in 1470, and practised as a painter during the Renaissance in his home town. He was a pupil of Liberale da Verona, a conservative painter close to the style of Mantegna, from whom he learned the first elements of painting.
He then went to Mantua, to Mantegna's school, where he considerably grew from an artistic point of view. It is said that he became so good that Mantegna himself spread his works, passing them off as his own.
He was nicknamed 'painter of the small figures', as if he was not able to paint the big ones, so - moved by a strong sense of revenge against those who had given him that nickname - he painted 'gigantic' figures in the chapel of Madonna di S. Fermo.