With its wealth of Roman sites and streets of pink-hued medieval buildings, the easy-going city of VERONA has more in the way of sights than any other place in the Veneto except Venice itself. It is Shakespeare who brings most people here: the city was the setting for Romeo and Juliet, and many people come to see the scene of their great, but fictional, romance. It also hosts one of the major cultural events in the region, when the Roman Arena becomes a magical setting for an outdoor opera festival. Unlike Venice, though, Verona is not dependent on the tourist industry, and its economic success is largely due to its position at the crossing of the major routes from Germany and Austria to central Italy and from the west to Venice and Trieste. The spending power of its citizens contributes to a vivacious street-life – one of Verona’s most appealing assets.
Verona’s initial development as a Roman settlement was similarly due to its straddling the main lines of communication. A period of decline after the disintegration of the Roman Empire was followed by revival under the Ostrogoths, who in turn were succeeded by the Franks. By the twelfth century Verona had become a city-state, and in the following century approached the zenith of its independent existence with the rise of the Scaligers. The ruthless Scaligers were at the same time energetic patrons of the arts, and many of Verona’s finest buildings date from their rule.
With the fall of their dynasty a time of upheaval ensued, Gian Galeazzo Visconti of Milan emerging in control of the city. Absorption into the Venetian Empire came in 1405, and Verona was governed from Venice until the arrival of Napoleon. Verona’s history thereafter shadowed that of Venice.