Embraced in the arch-like meanders of the River Adige, Sitting at the feet of the hills of Lessinia rolling down to the plans lost in mists, and bathed in the breezes from Monte Baldo and the parfume of Lake Garda, Verona has always found itself at the centre of Italian and European history.
It is the home of Valerius Catullus and Vitruvius, the city where Julius Gaesar loved to stay, marvellously planned and solidly founded with splendid gates (Porta Borsari e Porta Leona) in 49B.C. under the hegemony of the Publilia tribe. It is the city which built its walls in seven months when, in 256 A.D., the Empire was terrorised by invasions; it is also the city of Theodoric, the great King of the Ostrogoths, to whose legend is attributed even the construction of the Arena; it is the city of Alboin and Rosamunda and the Longobard Dukes who here saw the emergence of the richest flowering of their culture. It is the city of Charlemagne and his son, King Pepin; Imperial Capital and seat of the Emperor Berengar I, the site of Diets and Consistories, of Conclaves and historic Congresses.
It fought at the head of the Veronese League under the carroccio Brothers, but, ever a European centre, it welcomed within its walls - which event the Hungarians were unable to bring down - German bishops and abbots with all the naturalness of cosmopolitan cities.
Ezzelino da Romano and the Scaligers, imperial vicars: the splendid lords who gave refuge to Dante during his first period of exile.
And then came Venice, the Magnificent: the history of Verona turned inwards on itself and cultivated its own exquisitely commercial, artistic and cultural affairs, emerging as a burgeoning centre for intellectuals, merchants, artists and the military: its strategic position marked the city's destiny for many centuries, right to the time of the Austrian Quadrilateral and the Wars of Indipendence, until Octiber 1866, when the Veronese people decided by universal plebiscite to join the Kingdom of Italy.
This historical outline holds the very soul of Verona: a sense of European-ness in time, history and art today witnessed by an enviable patrimony of large, famous and well mainteined monuments which make Verona a living gallery of all the artistic and cultural periods of Western civilisation, and all but unique example of harmonious cohabitation of different styles and different schools of thought.
For this reason, as much today as yesterday, Verona has been able to delineate a very special profile, its own particular identity, as a mayor route centre, despite the inclemencies of Time and History.
Perhaps because it has always been pleasant and easy to reach Verona, as the diaries of illustrious travellers of the past (Goethe, Heine, Stendhal and Valery) record, the people of Verona have made hospitality one of their most prominent characteristics.
The Province of Verona (covering 3.097 sq. Km. and 770.000 inhabitants between the city itself - about 261.000 - and its 98 "communities") lies between the Lombard cities of Brescia and Mantua, Trento to the njorth and the Venetian Provincial capiotals of Vicenza, Padua and Rovigo. It is the crossroad of the "Serenissima A4" and "Brennero A22" morotways and the State Roads connecting Milan and Venice (n. 11), Trento and Modena (n. 12) and Mantua and Parma (n. 62). These important roads are naturally joined by the Railways, which help make Verona a route centre of European standing, and its "Valerius Catullo" Aurport, the city's gateway to Europe and the rest of the world.
It is popular and increasingly specialised centre for tourism, providing an attractive range of activities and events in every season of the year: the sunny beaches of the Riviera degli Olivi on Lake Garda from Peschiera to Malcesine, between which lie th "communes"of Lazies, Bardolino, Garda, Torri del Benaco and Brenzone, or the snow-capped ski slopes of Baldo and Lessinia, ideal for both cross-country and downhill skiing; the Arena and th Shakespearian Festivals, the former for lyric opera founded in 1913, the latter for dramatic arts first held in 1948, respectively in the Arena and the Roman Theatre. Yet every ancient courtyard, ever cloister are the backdrops to a variety of shows and events every Summer, and every square becomes an open-air arena. And even in Winter, made mild by the warm breezes of Lake Garda, the lyric-symphonic season continues in the 18th Century Philharmonic Theatre, joined by impressive exhibitions in the Gallery ofModern and Contemporary Art in the Palazzo Forti, and "Christmas in the Arena", the unusual and unique international exibition of Nativity scenes.
The Verona Fairgrounds have expanded since 1898 and now offer events almost every month to million of visitors and operators from all over the world; these shows enjoy a very high status and the most famous are the Fieragricola, Vinitaly, Herbora, Marmomacchine, Samoter, The horse Show and many others. The leading role of the Fairgrounds is now backed up by facilities for Conferences and Conventions. The city also enjoys international prestige throught its University: the Fculty of Medicine is one fo the best equipped and best organized in Italy and Europe, and Boasts a tradition of medicine and natural history which dates back to the Renaissance, kept alive today by the famous Natural History Museum visited by researchers from every part of the world to see its collection of fossils and archeological remains from the most ancient prehistoric periods of the Italian penisula: Bolca, Ponte di Veja, Spluga di Preta - ensuring that the Museum rightly enjoys an international reputation.