On the Adige river
104 km W of Venice, the original settlement, even in
earliest times, was a center of the early Veneti. The first
contacts with Rome are not well known. The Veneti remained loyal to Rome against Hannibal and were amply
rewarded, for the Romans respected the territory of the
Veneti from Livenza all'Olio to the borders of Brixia.
The oldest Latin inscription from Verona is a miliarium
from the Via Postumia dating to 148 B.C. (CIL
I, 624 =
V.8045) and presently preserved in the Museo Maffeiano. The road crossed Regio X, joining Genoa and Aquileia by way of Piacenza, Cremona, Verona, Vicenza, and Oderzo. Originally a defensive road, it later became a
powerful commercial artery.
Already at the time of the Via Postumia, the first
bridge over the Adige must have been constructed at
the site of a very early ferry. It was on that spot that
the Ponte della Pietra would later span the river. Two
arches of that bridge remain, with definite traces of later
Historical and epigraphical sources are silent until the
age of Caesar. There has been and still is much discussion regarding the legal status of Verona during this interlude of nearly a century. Although Catullus called Verona a Latin colony (17.1) it seems improbable that it
was a true colonia, with the introduction of new inhabitants as colonists, particularly in the period when Aquileia and Lucca (181-179 B.C.) were the last two definite colonies in Italy under Roman law.
From an archaeological point of view, no trace of a
center antedates the Roman city. As a result of the
social war Latin law was extended to the entire territory between the Alps and the Po, but it was only in 49 B.C. that all the Latin colonies beyond the Po river
became municipia. From then on an ever-increasing
number of inscriptions and of monumental buildings confirm the development of Roman Verona, cited by Strabo
) and by Martial (14.195.1) as one of the most
important cities of Venetia. The gens Gavia, originally
from the S central area of Italy, is mentioned in particular and is responsible for the famous arch, an aqueduct, and perhaps the first theater.
. 3.8.1) mentions that Verona was at the
center of the struggles between the Flavian faction and
the followers of Vitellius. Gallienus later revitalized the
city, incorporating it into a defensive system from Concordia to Milan. His actions are mentioned in the inscription of 265 set on the architrave above the vault of the Porta Borsari (CIL
V, 3329). The text mentions Verona as the Colonia Augusta Nova Gallieniana, an honor conferred upon it probably by Gallienus himself.
After the reform of Diocletian, which reduced Italy to
the status of a province, Verona preserved its importance,
becoming a vacation haunt of emperors. The famous
laterculum maius, list of the provinces of the late Empire, dating to the first years of the 4th c., comes from here. After the defeat of Brescia, the troops of Maxentius took refuge in Verona. An inscription (CIL
and one panel of the Arch of Constantine in Rome commemorate the victorious siege of Constantine.
An inscription of Valerius Palladius records the decline of the city. As governor of Venetia et Histria (CIL
V, 3332) from 379 to 383, he had re-erected a statue (surely of votive type) which lay for a time in the
Capitolium. The importance accorded a pagan relic
focuses attention on the struggles between pagans and
Christians which characterized the second half of the
4th c. in the provinces as well as at Rome. Christianity
had its first Ecclesia in a building recently unearthed near
the cathedral. The building shows a plan which had already reached a sophisticated development. At the end
of the 4th c. or at the beginning of thc 5th, it was probably abandoned in favor of the large basilica which usually bears the name of the first important bishop of Verona, San Zeno. With it ended the series of ancient
Verona's monuments are particularly well preserved.
In addition to the gates and walls there is the theater,
along the Adige opposite Colle di San Pietro. It had two
upper passageways which offered the spectator a unique
view of the stage. The entire complex recalls Augustan
art where, as on the arch of the Gabii, traditional Hellenistic elements are mingled with others of clearly Roman taste.
Within the circuit walls of the city in the period of
Caesar, the huge amphitheater, usually called the Arena,
was built. Numerous restorations, both medieaval and
modern (e.g., the 16th c. reconstruction of the stairways),
make it difficult to assign a precise date, despite the recent excavations of the substructures, of the vaulted galleries, of the monumental entrances, and of the series of arcades, and despite the strengthening of the Ala.
Other buildings of which there is definite evidence include the Thermae Juventianae (CIL
v, 3342), dating to
the beginning of the 3d c.; the Capitolium, whose high
podium and inner underground reservoir have been discovered; a basilica of perhaps the Flavian era; and an interesting house, also of the Flavian period, discovered some years ago around Valdonega, with mosaic pavements and remains of frescos.
In the Museo del Teatro are notable sculptures of the
so-called sophisticated art, among which is a splendid
portrait of an emperor of the Julio-Claudian house and
a torso in armor. Although the Bevilacqua collection
and many other private collections of importance have
been sold, Verona still maintains the oldest epigraphic
museum in Italy, owing to the efforts in the middle of
the 18th c. of the great humanist Scipione Maffei. The
Museo Civico of Castelvecchio preserves the Venera
coin repository (more than 50,000 pieces) discovered
at the end of the last century.
V, 319ff, 942ff; 1074ff; C. Anti,
“L'Arco dei Gavi a Verona,” Arch. e Arti decorative
I (1921-22) 121ff; B. Forlati Tamaro, “Un iscrizione
votiva di Sommacampagna,” Epigraphica
3 (1941) 271ff;
id., “Iscrizioni votive di Verona,” ibid. 4 (1942) 159ff;
id., “La casa romana nel Veneto e una nuova scoperta
a Verona,” ArchCl
10 (1958) 116ff; id., “La romanizzazione dell'Italia settentrionale vista nelle iscrizioni,”
32-33 (1961-62) 109ff; id., “A proposito
degli Arusnates,” Atti X riunione scientifica Istitut. ital.
Preistoria e Protostoria
(1965) 237ff; id., “Verona” in
Arte e Civiltàl romana nell'Italia settentrionale
564ff; id., “Ii restauro della porta detta dei Leoni,” NSc
Suppl. (1965) 12ff; id., “Scavi e scoperte negli ultimi
anni nelle Venezie,” Atti II Congr. Arch. Crist
185ff; id., “Statua loricata scoperta a Verona,” Gli archeologi italicini in onore di A. Maiuri
, ed. Di Mauro,
s.d.; A. Zarpellon, “Verona e l'agro veronese in età
romana,” Nova Historia
(1954); H. Kähler, “Die römischen Stadtore von Verona,” JdI
4 (1955) 138ff; L.
Beschi, “Verona romana e i monumenti,” Verona e il suo
, I (1960) 368; id., I bronzetti romani di Montorio Veronese
(1962); F. Sartori, “Verona romana,
Storia politica, economica, amministrativa,” Verona e
, I (1960) 157ff; P. Gazzola, Ponti romani
I (1963); L. Franzoni, “L'iscrizione di Valerio Palladio
dal Foro di Verona,” Atti e Memorie Accad. Agric. Sc.
e Lettere di Verona
(1965-66) 425ff; id., La Galleria
(1970); L. Bosio, Itinerari e strade della
(1970); G. Fogolari, “Ritrovamenti archeologici nell'ultimo decennio,” Atti II Congr. Arch.
. (1970) 35ff; G. Tosi, La casa romana di Valdonega
e il problema degli Oeci collonnati
B. FORLATI TAMARO