The other theatre of Verona

Ther Roman theatre

Tourists visiting Verona go to the Arena and Juliet’s tomb, but they don’t go to the other theatre of Verona. Few people go as far as its spectacular open-air theatre, known as the Roman Theatre. Built at the end of the first century BC, about 50 years before the Arena. The Arena dates back to the time of Nero, a great fan of theatrical performances. Historians hostile to him say that he often performed on stage himself. He had to be good, with a beautiful voice. Perhaps when he visited Verona, as the new Arena was not yet completed, he performed at the Roman Theatre, unleashing his genius as an actor and singer.

The Roman Theatre stands at the foot of St. Peter’s Hill, on the left bank of the Adige river. One of the best-preserved Roman theatres in northern Italy. In summer you can enjoy concerts and comedies. Also possible to visit the annexed Archaeological Museum.

The cavea measures 105 metres wide and stands for the most part on St. Peter’s Hill. A series of terraces were dug, which ended in an esplanade that now houses Castel San Pietro but that in classical times had a Roman temple. About 1800 spectators can be seated.

The rebirth

During the Middle Ages, the building went into disuse. Then it collapsed. So much so that, above its remains, arose an entire district that exploited the structure of the theater itself. In fact, the houses they built directly on Roman buildings. Some ancient entrances and stairs of the theater still used to access the neighborhood, while the cavea consisted of corn, exploiting the semi-natural slope.

The archaeological excavations and its return took place only in the nineteenth century thanks to the work of a passionate financier, Andrea Monga. He purchased the entire area on which the ancient building stood. Between 1834 and 1844, he directed the archaeological excavations of the site. Among the interventions carried out, the demolition of about thirty houses that surmount the remains of the Roman theater.

Verona must have been a magnificent city in Nero’s time, vibrant and prosperous. The Adige river provided plenty of water, and its beautiful bridges connected the Roman Theatre to the city. A beautiful bridge, the Ponte Pietra, remains well preserved, although, in 1945, it exploded by the retreating Germans.