The west side of Piazza
delle Erbe is entirely occupied by the imposing
and sumptuous presence of Palazzo Maffei. The palace is unique in
the architectural panorama of Verona, built in a very rich
and refined Baroque style that can hardly be found in
other city buildings.
Verona since 1405, like many other cities in the Veneto, had become part of the territories dominated by Venice. The high society of the city, although willingly subjecting itself to the new rulers, wanted to maintain a certain proud identity, at least in its artistic taste. The Baroque style, both in painting and architecture, was not very successful in Venice, and therefore developed into rather sober and austere forms, often difficult to distinguish from those of the Renaissance. The noble Maffei family, one of the most prominent in Verona, seems to have commissioned a Roman architect to design their palace in Piazza delle Erbe. In Rome, a city where the Baroque developed greatly, the Maffei had ties and relationships. This would explain the elaborate and unusual style if compared to other buildings from the same age in Verona.
Palazzo Maffei is structured as a sort of representation of the history of architecture that evolves from the bottom to the top in increasingly more sophisticated forms and decorations. It starts from the rusticated Tuscan order on the ground floor, then moves on to the Ionic order for the first floor and so on until the full Baroque of the summit.
Piazza delle Erbe, on one side of which there is Palazzo Maffei,
in Roman times was the forum, the main
square, at the intersection of cardus and decumanus
maximum. On the side now occupied by Palazzo Maffei stood the Capitolium,
a temple dedicated to the Capitoline triad:
Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. Remains of the base of the imposing
temple were found a few years ago a few meters below the cellars
of a famous restaurant on the ground floor of the building. It is
not clear if at the time of construction they were aware of these
remains, but it seems almost a tribute to the ancient city temple
having placed statues of Greek-Roman gods on the
balustrade that crowns the building: Minerva, Apollo, Mercury,
Jupiter, Venus and Hercules.
In front of Palazzo Maffei stands the imposing large column on which rests a stone sculpture of the winged lion of St. Mark, a reminder of the long period of Venetian domination of Verona.
The explanation of Palazzo Maffei is part in most the guided tours organized by the tourist guides of Verona, with Piazza delle Erbe being one of the main stops. Upon reservation and at special times it is also possible to visit the basement of the restaurant where you can see the remains of the ancient capitolium, the temple of Roman Verona. It can become a very interesting moment of an educational visit for a schoolchildren on a trip to Verona.
For information, booking of guided tours, definition of tourist itineraries in Verona, please contact us at the indicated email address.