Underground Verona Tour
The tourist guides of the Verona Guide Association have prepared a new and exclusive itinerary to discover the city from an unusual and fascinating point of view, 3 meters (9 ft) below the ground where there is still evidence of imperial and early medieval Verona. It is a guided tour designed to deepen certain issues of Roman history, but it can also become an unusual and fascinating way to discover Verona.
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Like most Italian cities with ancient origins, Verona is also made up of many overlapping layers, each with important traces of past history. Today, above the city surface it is possible to admire the Arena (Roman amphitheater), the Gavi triumph arch, the Roman Theatre, Ponte Pietra (the Roman gate), etc.. But going down a few meters below the current street level, you will find yourself on the streets, inside the houses, the temples and public buildings that were built in Verona two thousand years ago. However, unlike many cities where the findings have been removed and taken to museums, or are often difficult to access, in Verona the sites and finds of greatest interest, excavated by archaeologists over the years, have been often left in place, enhanced by architectural solutions that allow you to enjoy them. Some of these sites are difficult to find though, or need to be booked because they are inside private buildings so we strongly recommend to book one of our tours.
Along the way, accompanied by the tourist guides of Verona, you can visit a selection of the following underground sites:
Domus of Piazza Nogara
These are the remains of a patrician house (domus), inserted in the urban plan with parallel and perpendicular streets typical of the chessboard grid of Roman cities. Three meters below the floor of a bank in the very center of Verona, from a special walkway it is possible to admire the remains of a typical patrician domus, extending over almost four hundred square meters (4.300 square feet). The impluvium, the basin for collecting rain water, the columns of the peristyle, the portico that surrounded the atrium, i.e. the inner courtyard, are still clearly visible. Around it you can still see the perimeters of the rooms, still with abundant remains of the typical geometric mosaic in vogue then in northern Italy. The building was built in the middle of the 1st century B.C. and continued to be inhabited until the 6th century A.D., undergoing numerous modifications and alterations during this period of time.
This archaeological site is located 9 meters below the current street level, in the cellars of a famous restaurant that gives on Piazza delle Erbe, the ancient forum of Verona. There, after passing through shelves full of prestigious bottles of wine, well aligned in wooden racks, you will find yourself surrounded by the remains of the capitolium, the main temple of all Roman cities, where Jupiter, Juno and Minerva were venerated. The temple was built on a raised platform of about 2 meters on one side of the big square. It consisted of a rectangular pronaos with three rows of columns. Today are visible remains of the foundations of the pronaos made of blocks of limestone, some columns of Tuscan order and a marble podium, perhaps the base of a statue.
Another portion of the capitolium complex was found years ago under the loggia of Corte Sgarzarie, a charming little square not far from Piazza Erbe. In this site you can see a portion of the underground porch (cryptoporticus) that ran around the platform of the Capitolium, with the remaining skylights, a paved pedestrian street, parts of the pillars of the vault and the subsequent early medieval interventions with an ancient ice house, a tower house, etc.. The site is accessible and, during the visit, a video with 3D reconstructions will help to understand the site and Roman Verona in general.
Perhaps the most interesting place to appreciate the complexity of the history of Verona with its undergrounds is the International Centre of Photography of the Scaligeri Excavations. It is a large exhibition area set up two to four meters below the street level of an entire block of the Roman Verona. Along the way you can admire the remains of buildings from the first century BC to the fifteenth century AD, a sort of "time machine" with remains of domus decorated with rich mosaics, a paved road with the sewer below. Next to the Roman remains there are also signs of the rapid and tragic change that hit the Roman Empire and of course Verona between the fifth and sixth centuries. A.D. with residential buildings pulled up in bulk above the Roman road system with materials of spolia, traces of the vast fire that at the end of the sixth century. A.D. seriously damaged the city and the Lombard tombs of a small cemetery built near the church of Santa Maria Antica. The site is temporarily closed for restoration.
Just behind Piazza delle Erbe, the ancient Roman forum of Verona, in the cellars of one of the most famous restaurants in the city, there is an underground archaeological excavation that includes the base of the curia, a Roman public building, the external facade of the wall of a religious building probably used for imperial worship, a Roman road with its cobblestones and the cloaca sewer, the base of a medieval tower that constitute a complex of great charm. A three-dimensional model and some illustrations with the reconstruction of the site contribute to the understanding of the findings.
At various points in the old town center, in various hidden alleys and small squares, sometimes incorporated into later buildings are the remains of the walls of Gallieno (265 A.D.) and Teodorico (5th century). In some cases, through special loopholes in the road pavement, you can appreciate the depth to which the street level of the Roman era is placed today.
Early Christian Churches in the Duomo Complex
Under the whole area of the Duomo complex, in particular under the church of Sant'Elena and the cloister of the Canonicale Museum, you can admire the remains of the early Christian churches built in Verona from the beginning of the 4th century B.C., when Christian religion became legitimate. One and a half meters below street level there are splendid mosaics and traces of the colonnades that divided these early places of worship into naves.
In the place where part of one of the two gates of Roman Verona still stands today, excavations carried out in the 1980s have brought to light part of the Roman road that crossed the gate, and the base of the gate itself with the two circular towers guarding the entrance. In this case, the underground remains can be admired from above without having to descend.
Shops and Restaurants
The underground finds from the Roman era in Verona are really numerous. Some of them are located under shops, restaurants, hotels, churches and religious institutes in the historic center and can be easily admired. The tourist guide who will organize the guided tour for you will select some of them and include them in the tour.
AccessibilityAll the sites proposed in the tour in underground Verona are open to the public. To access some of these, however, you must pass through private buildings for which you need to apply for permission a little in advance. The itinerary organized by the tourist guides of Verona includes the reservation in all the sites involved in the itinerary but it is advisable to plan your trip to Verona a few weeks in advance.
The sites have staircases and passages, sometimes narrow and winding, so they are difficult for visitors with disabilities to access.
The guided itineraries in underground Verona, depending on the time available, can be structured as half-day or full-day visits. The various archaeological sites to be included in the tour are selected according to the time available, the day of the week, the availability and the number of visitors.
To book a guided tour of underground Verona or another of the many itineraries proposed by the Association of Verona Guides send us an email.