Palazzo della Ragione
Palazzo della Ragione is what was called in the cities governed by the Republic of Venice the court house. The large building almost perfectly covers one of the Roman blocks (the portions of the city divided by the grid created by parallel and perpendicular streets typical of Roman cities) near the ancient forum of Verona, now Piazza delle Erbe, of which the building represents one side, and Piazza dei Signori, in which it is the oldest building.
Starting in the early Middle Ages, at the
corners of this quadrangular area, a series of tower-houses
were built, then connected to each other by residential wings,
thus transforming the resulting structure into a sort of
castle in the heart of the city. In the 12th century
the whole area was purchased by Verona municipality, then an independent
city state, which made it the seat of the
administration, the council or Arengario,
and the salt warehouses. In the inner courtyard there was the grain
market. It could be actually the oldest public building
in Italy. At the end of 1400, on the opposite side of Piazza dei
Signori was built the Renaissance Loggia that became the new and
prestigious seat of the city council. The previous public palace
was then transformed into the court house. This function is
recalled by the so-called lion mouths, sort of
stone letterbox in which it was possible to insert secret
complaints against those who broke the law. There is one on each
side of the building: one against the usurers, one for those who
traded in silk avoiding the Venetian monopoly, one for the
Also from the Venetian era is the addition of the precious marble staircase, in composite style, which gave access to the palace from the inner courtyard. Two of the towers that stood at the corners of the ancient public palace were reused in the new functions for which it was intended. One became the prison attached to the court. The other, the Lamberti tower, was raised up to the current 84 meters, becoming the municipal tower. It still stands out with its unmistakable shape in the typical city landscape. The tower can be visited, a lift takes the visitor to the top of the building from which you can enjoy a breathtaking 360° view over the whole of Verona.
Gallery of Modern Art
Palazzo della Ragione has been used continuously as a court of
Verona until the '80s. After a long period of abandon following
the transfer of the judicial offices to a more functional location
outside the city center, it was finally restored at the beginning
of the 21st century with a modern intervention by Tobia and Afra
Scarpa, sons of the famous architect Carlo Scarpa, becoming the
site of an important multi-purpose exhibition center.
Palazzo della Ragione now houses Verona Modern Art Gallery, with temporary exhibitions, but also civil weddings and various events can take place inside it. Inside the Modern Art Gallery is exhibited the collectiona of Palazzo Forti (former modern art gallery of Verona) and of some private foundations that include important exponents of modern Italian art such as Hayez, Casorati, Balla, Boccioni, as well as artists from Verona such as Angelo Dall'Oca Bianca.
Inside the Palazzo della Ragione you can also admire one of the most spectacular examples of eighteenth-century art in Verona: the Chapel of Notaries, richly decorated by the painter Louis Dorigny with large canvases depicting the exorcisms of San Zeno.
Palazzo della Ragione is normally included in most guided tours proposed by the tourist guides of Verona, which illustrate the characteristic Romanesque exterior with alternating layers of tuff and brick, the courtyard with the scale of Reason, the "mouths of the lions" and the Lamberti tower. However, it can become the destination of an in-depth tour with a guided tour of the interior and the collections of modern art, the Notaries' Chapel and the Lamberti Tower which is included in the entrance ticket. Ask the tourist guides of Verona to accompany you on a tour of Palazzo della Ragione: