Piazza dei Signori
Piazza dei Signori, together with Piazza
delle Erbe and Piazza Bra, is one of the most important and
significant squares, both historically and artistically, of the
city of Verona. It is a charming and elegant place,
considered for this reason "the hall of Verona".
The square occupies part of two blocks of the ancient Roman urban grid, close to the ancient forum, now the central Piazza delle Erbe. A few years ago, archaeological excavations have brought to light at the edge of the square two perpendicular roman roads: cardus and decumanus.
In the early Middle Age, a series of tower-houses were built on the area, the remains of which can be found in the foundations of some buildings that stand around the square. In the Communal Age around the square were erected the buildings of the public institutions of Verona, first of all the City Council, with its characteristic alternation of layers of tuff and brick typical of the Veronese Romanesque, occupies almost an entire side of the square. The palace dates back to the 12th century, one of the oldest public buildings in Italy, and in Venetian times became the city court, called Palazzo della Ragione. The square is completed by the Scala Family Palace, residence of the lords that ruled Verona between the end of 1200s and the end of 1300s, with its typical Ghibelline battlements, and then the Palazzo del Capitano, headquarter of the military power in town, the Loggia del Consiglio, oldest pure Renaissance style building in Veneto and the Domus Nova, residence of the judges in the Venetian era.
The square owes its name to the fact that here are concentrated the seat of political power in medieval and Renaissance Verona, here lived and worked the lords of the city: the members of the Scala family. "Signore" in Italian ("Signori" when plural) today means "mister" and it is used to show respect to anyone, but in the Middle Age it was used only for those who really had the power.
Different style and age of the palaces around Piazza dei Signori make the square a sort of open-air museum of architecture with Romanesque, Gothic, including the Arche Scaligere that can be glimpsed over one of the arches, Renaissance style with the Loggia del Consiglio and the Palazzo del Capitano, and the pre-Neoclassical forms of Domus Nova. Despite the great differences in appearance between the various buildings of the square, there is a common thread that helps to create a harmonious and uniform whole. The various buildings, albeit with their diversity, are united by arches and walkways that symbolically represented the unity of the city power. Above the arches, statues of important figures in Verona's history, such as Scipione Maffei and Girolamo Fracastoro, make a pendant with statues of Veronese figures from the Roman past on the Loggia del Consiglio.
In the center of the square, a statue of Dante recalls the hospitality that the poet received at the court of Cangrande della Scala and the seven years he spent in Verona. Even today, many Veronese still call Piazza dei Signori Piazza Dante.
Piazza dei Signori is an essential stop on every guided tour of Verona. It offers many cues to talk about the history, legends, art of the city, from its Roman origins, through the Lombard period and the rise of the Scala family until the long period of Venetian rule, with the lions of St. Mark whose silhouettes are still visible on many of the buildings of the square.
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