Piazza Bra, places and monuments
I Portoni della Bra (The Gates of Bra)
The 'della Braida' gate is mentioned in a document of 1257. This gate is mentioned, perhaps for the last time, in 1459. However, there are not many indications about the gates.
An overview of the gates can be found in a fresco by Nicolò Giolfino: it is reasonable to assume that they were built after 1477, at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, while the idea of attaching a clock to the Gates of Bra seems to date back to 1584. In 1871, Count Antonio Nogarola donated a clock to the town hall provided that two quadrants would be placed between the two arches of the gates, on either side, and that the chime would strike the hours from the top of Pentagona Tower.
The clock inaugurated in 1872 left much to be desired, so in 1879 the watchmaker Montemezzi of Vigasio modified a few gears and the clock has been working accurately ever since.
The Roman amphitheatre, commonly called the 'Arena', forms the backdrop to Piazza Bra, but once - when it was built by the Romans - it was located on the edge of the Urbe, outside the city walls. The Arena sums up twenty centuries of local history and over time has become the symbol of the nobilitas civitas. Veronese historians believe that the amphitheatre dates back to the time of Augustus.
The Arena was used for various purposes, primarily for spectacular events: in Roman times it was used, for example, for gladiator fights. In the Middle Ages and until the middle of the 18th century, it was also used for jousts and tournaments. The Arena, however, was only discovered for what it is now known for in 1914: from this date onwards it became the world's first and most important open-air opera house. The Verona Opera Arena began with the memorable Aida.
The founding act of the Gran Guardia - intended for the review of the Venetian soldiers on rainy days - dates back to September 1609, when Captain Giovanni Mocenigo wrote to the Doge of Venice Leonardo Donà, proposing the opportunity of having a covered room in Verona for the review of the troops on rainy days, to be erected in Piazza Bra, close to the Citadel wall. The upper rooms would have been used for the knightly exercises that would have been held by the Academicians of the Filotima, i.e. the Academy that welcomed noble 'lovers of value'.
In December 1609, the Doge granted his approval, while in 1610 the senators directly contributed the sum of 500 ducats to the erection of the factory.
Palazzo Barbieri/ Town Hall/ Gran Guardia Nuova
The palace is a work of Giuseppe Barbieri, but it was Francesco Ronzani who directed its execution. Its construction began in 1836 and was completed around 1848: the palace stands where once was the old Misericordia hospital. This monumental neoclassical building, in Corinthian style, consists of a central body and two side bodies in Palladian style.
Architecturally, it is inspired by the forms of ancient Roman temples. The central part consists of a protruding Corinthian pronaos which is accessed by a wide staircase, surmounted by a large triangular pediment in which the city's coat of arms is inserted. The two wings, in Palladian style, are decorated with large half columns in Corinthian style.
The entire façade recalls the recurring style of the palaces designed by Sammicheli. The palace consists mainly of three rooms: the Hall of Representation, the Tapestry Room, and the Hall of the Municipal Council.
Giuseppe Barbieri was born in Verona on 2 December 1777. He was a pupil of Luigi Trezza and Bartolomeo Giuliari: his adherence to the neoclassical architectural style and taste, which at the time was widespread throughout Europe, seems to be influenced by Palladian and Scamozzian stylistic reminiscences, which are always present in his buildings. In Veneto, his works witness the continuation of the classicist tradition even in the Baroque era.
The main works of Barbieri, who also was the municipal engineer of Verona, are: the Gran Guardia, the design of the monumental cemetery, the iconic Loggia of Palazzo Arvedi, the rear façade of the medieval Palazzo del Comune, and the Town Hall of Verona in which he took up the theme of the giant order of columns, in Palladian style. Among his last works is Porta Vittoria, erected across the Adige River in place of the ancient Scaliger gate. Barbieri died in Verona in 1828.
Museo Lapidario (Lapidary Museum)
Scipione Maffei founded the Lapidary Museum between 1738 and 1749. Here he arranged the marbles that he had purchased or received as donations, and later carried out a better arrangement of the Museum thanks to the financial support of forty-two academicians. Around 1744, based on a design by Alessandro Pompei, a Doric portico consisting of 42 compartments was built. On the architraves of these comparments was placed the coat of arms of each of the 42 contributing academicians.
Maffei aspired to compose a collection in which all the various classes of sacred and private public documents - Latin, Greek, vernacular, Hebrew, Arabic, etc. - were represented. The work of placing the marbles under the arcades of the courtyard took place with the collaboration of Filippo Juvarra. The collection consists of 544 monuments, mostly Latin, but there is also a rich Greek selection with 104 pieces, and an Etruscan one, to which some oriental tombstones and an early Christian area were added.
Teatro Filarmonico (Philarmonic Theatre)
In 1716, the Philharmonic Academy promoted the building of a theatre 'to the ancient use'; but the superiority of the vows adhered to the modern use of a dramatic theatre. Francesco Bibiena, an accredited architect, erected it starting from the foundations; in 1749 there was, however, a fire.
The theatre we now see, built in 1760 on the same plan and design as the one that burnt down, was built under the superintendence of Girolamo dal Pozzo.
In 1850, it was decorated by P. Gemma. Among the decorations, the parapet of the box seats, which is shaped like a shell, and the proscenium opening between the Corinthian columns arouse particular admiration.
I Palazzi del Listone
Palazzo Ottolini Vaccari
In February 1782, the Noble Council authorised Count Domenico Ottolini to build a palace where once was an old house. The palace had arches in continuation of the underpasses of the Bra, while had any on the side facing the Philharmonic Theatre. Ottolini Palace was built following the design of the architect Michelangelo Castellazzi.
The palace is in the Sanmichelian style, it is located on the Liston - on the corner of Via Roma - and can be considered the last great factory in Verona during the Venetian period. During the Austrian domination there was the Gran Caffè dei militari on the ground floor.
Honori Palace, Spolverini, Allegri, Guastaverza, Sparavieri, Malfatti
In December 1556, Bonaventura degli Honori presented an application to the Noble Council: he requested permission to build a palace to replace an old house that would have been decent for him and the city. The project owned by Honori had been designed by Michele Sanmicheli. When the Honori family died out at the end of the 16th century, the palace passed to the Sparavieri family and then to the Allegri family, who sold it to the Guastaverza family.
For several decades between the late 18th and the early 19th century, Silvia Curtoni Verza held one of the most important salons in this palace of Verona. In 1845, on the death of Orazio Guastaver(s)za (Silvia's grandson), the palace passed to his mother's family, the Sparavieri. In the mid of the 19th century, the Sparavieri transformed the ground floor into a café-restaurant. After the Sparavieri, the palace passed to the Malfatti family.
Guglienzi, Brognoligo, Barbaro, Tofaletti
The building is in the Renaissance style and dates back to the end of the 15th century, but has been restored several times, as confirmed by the cymas above the windows and the rounded railing of the balcony. On the façade is a much damaged fresco by Francesco Morone showing 'the Blessed Virgin and the Child'. The Literary Society had its first headquarters in a flat on the first floor of this building.
Campagna, Crotto, Rubiani Palace
Campagna, Crotto, Rubiani Palace is in the classical style of the 16th century and overlooks Piazzetta Scalette Rubiani. It belonged first to the Campagna family, then to the Crotto family, and finally -in the first half of the 17th century- to the Rubiani family. Along the façade of the Palace, there was a raised pavement above street level, which was accessed by two side staircases: a feature that gave the Piazzetta its name.
The base of the Palace and the jambs of the entrance portal have clear traces of their arrangement after the demolition of the high pavement and staircases. Until 1808, on the side of the Bra, the Palace had an indecent balcony.