Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Verona's Castelvecchio


It seems that the majority of tourists that visit Verona Italy come because of the romantic notion of Romeo and Juliet.  They want to see the beautiful location and, most of all, the balcony made famous by Shakespeare's love story.  Of course Shakespeare's story is a work of fiction but the story of the Castelvecchio is not.  

Constructed in 1343-1356, Castelvecchio was built to not only defend itself from external enemies, but internal ones as well.  Verona's powerful Scaligeri family trusted no one, not even the people tasked with their security, so they built their Castle with the family's private living quarters within the Castle's walls but completely separate from the areas housing their personal army.  They even built a fortified internal wall for added protection and an additional moat with bridge.  With the Adige River flowing past the castle walls there was a ready supply of water to keep both the moats filled.  

Entrance tower and draw bridge.
The Castle has six towers and the tallest, stronger one (the Keep) was designed to be the last stronghold for the family in the event of a siege.  The Keep wasn't open to visitors so we couldn't go to the top, but it extends skyward another few stories and must provide a sweeping view of Verona.  Walking the ramparts high above the river we tried to envision what life was like within the fortified walls, living beneath the shadows of towers, as an aristocrat of the times.  

The Castle that once let down its draw bridge to welcome Napoleon Bonaparte became the city's art museum in the 1970's and now displays a fine collection of Medieval and Renaissance art.  It couldn't be a more perfect setting. 

Castelvecchio's strategic location along the Adige River.

The Scaligeri family internal quarters.

Walking along the ramparts.

Looking up at the Keep.

Inside the walls and entrance to the art museum.

The ancient blends with the modern.

Scaligeri and his mount immortalized.

Collection of weapons of the time.

Family crest and wall fresco.

Even the armor was a work of art.

This statue shows the fashion both in clothing and hairstyle
that an aristocratic woman would have worn.  

Medieval bling.

Castlevecchio's bridge across the river is still in use today.

Castelvecchio provides an ancient backdrop in modern day Verona.

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