In the center of Piazza
Erbe, the ancient Roman forum and now the heart
of the city, the Madonna Verona fountain is a landmark
and an important symbol for the Veronese. The
monument was commissioned by Cansignorio della Scala,
the last of the greats of the Scala family lords of Verona before
the decline of their power that ended with the annexation to the
Republic of Venice. The occasion for its realization was the
restoration of the aqueduct which, probably since Roman times,
brought water from the springs on the hills of Verona to the city.
The fountain was assembled in such a way as to constitute an allegorical representation and a highly symbolic tribute to the city and its history. The large basin that rests on the bottom pedestal almost certainly comes from the Roman baths of Verona (Thermae), the remains of which have never been found but, according to the most accredited archaeological hypotheses, were located in the area where today stands the complex of the Cathedral. From the basin rises a stem on which are carved the effigies of the kings of Verona, historical or mythological: Vero, from whom, according to legend, derives the name Verona, Queen Verona, also mainly legendary, Alboin, king of the barbarian tribe Lombards, who proclaimed in Verona the end of the conquer of Italy and the establishment of his dominion, and Berengario, Duke of Friuli, who made Verona the capital of his ephemeral kingdom.
On top of this stem rests the statue of Madonna Verona, not the Virgin Mary, but a medieval queen. Mea domina, "my lady" in Latin, shortened in madonna, was the title of respect used for noblewomen. Madonna Verona, with her crown, is in fact the very personification of the city.
The body of the statue is also from Roman times, it is evident from the refined drapery of the chiton, the clothing wrapped around her figure. According to some historians, supported by the few documents of the time, it could even be one of the acroterial statues, the sculpturs of god and goddess that decorated the roof of the main temple, Capitolium, that stood on one side of the forum, where today is Palazzo Maffei. The statue, like many ancient sculptures, had no arms and head, lost during the dark ages that followed the end of the Roman Empire and the destruction of the temple. These parts were rebuilt at the time of the creation of the fountain, contributing to the dense symbolic meaning of the work: Verona, a beautiful and rich city represented as a beautiful princess, with the body representing its Roman origin and the head and arms symbolizing its development in the Middle Ages, thanks to the rule of Scala family.
Madonna Verona has in her hands a bronze scroll bearing the motto placed on the ancient seal of the Verona municipality: Est iusti latrix urbs hec et laudis amatrix, that is "this city is the bearer of justice and lover of praise".
In the exact center of Piazza delle Erbe, the fountain of Madonna Verona is included in every guided tour of the city conducted by licensed tourist guides. For more information please do not hesitate to contact us.