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The Veneto: Padua and Verona              
Emilia-Romagna: Bologna


Where next after Venice, and Florence? Trips to Padua and Verona (both cities which came under Venetian rule in 1405) suggested that they were more than worthy, and that with works by Bellini, Titian and the Tintorettos in evidence there were going to be plenty of connections, I thought. Well, it didn't quite turn out that way. It turns out that Padua and Verona couldn't provide more different art thrills. Altichiero comes from Verona, but his best stuff is in Padua. Veronese comes from Verona but his best stuff is not there. And Verona's churches are actually chock full of works by artists like Domenico Morone, Girolamo dai Libri, Caroto, Brusasorci and the Badile family- all of them having produced works of high quality and loveliness, and most have the usual quota of sons and fathers to trip up the unworthy. They are also not at all well covered in the literature, though - none of them have the plush and comprehensive monographs that one might expect, and desire. Both cities also have more tastefully-crumbling ancient remains and tastefully-faded pre-Renaissance frescos than Venice. What's not to love and want to visit and photograph, and write about?



Duomo and San Giovanni in Fonte and Sant'Elena
Padre Filippini
San Bernardino
San Fermo
San Giorgio in Braida
San Giovanni in Foro
San Giovanni in Valle
San Girolamo
San Lorenzo
San Matteo Concortine
San Nicol˛
San Paolo
San Paolo in Campo Marzio
San Pietro in Monasterio
San Pietro Incarnario
San Pietro Martire San Giorgetto
San Pietro Martire
San Silvestro
San Tomaso Cantuariense
San Tomio
San Zeno and San Procolo
San Zeno in Oratorio

on page 2
Santa Caterina alla Ruota
Santa Cecilia
Santa Chiara
Santa Maria Antica
Santa Maria Consolatrice
Santa Maria del Paradiso
Santa Maria della Scala
Santa Maria di Chiavica
Santa Maria in Organo
Santa Teresa degli Scalzi
Santa Toscana
Santi Apostoli and Sante Teuteria and Tosca
Santi Nazaro e Celso
Santi Siro and Libera
Santissima Trinita
Santo Stefano


Santa Maria Matricolare/Assunta


The first Christian basilica was built on the site currently occupied by the adjoining church of St Elena. St Zeno consecrated this building between 362 and 380, but it soon became too small an a larger basilica was built. Remains of the first of these early churches can be seen under St Elena, of the second remains can be seen beneath the cloister. This second building collapsed during the 7th century, possibly due to fire or earthquake, and the 8th-9th century (Carolingian) replacement was built on the site of the current church. This church was itself destroyed by an earthquake in 1117 and a new one built which was finally reconsecrated by Urban III on September 13th 1187. The interior was rebuilt in gothic style from 1444 into the 16th century when the aisle-divisions, side chapels and the choir screen were built.

The main doorway is the 1140 work of Nicol˛, the 12th century sculptor who carved the facade of San Zeno. Two arches containing sculptural reliefs are supported on columns with statues with griffins at the base. The two large lateral Gothic windows were inserted during the 15th century work. The side entrance (see the old print right) has reliefs dating to before Nicol˛'s work.

A nave and two aisles divided by tall columns of clusters of small columns in red Verona marble. This is a church with fewer side chapels than you'd think, because they're all big and each has lots of surrounding frescos conforming to a type representing monuments with statues. Also not the brightest church due to mostly small clerestory windows.
The first chapel on the left contains a somewhat restrained Assumption by Titian of c. 1530, his only work in Verona, and not a patch on his earlier monumental Assumption in the Frari in Venice for complexity of dramatic colouring. The surrounding chapel (see below right) was renovated for the Nichesola family around the same time by Jacopo Sansovino. The frescoes on the wall are late 14th century.
The second chapel has late 14th century wall frescoes by Antonio Badile.
The fourth chapel, the Chapel of the Madonna del Popolo, is deeper, almost making a baroque transept with the chapel opposite, and has a reliquary urn containing the thorn with which local martyr saints Fermo and Rustico were killed.
Just before this chapel is the (ever closed) door to the Sacristy of the Canons of 1625. The ceiling is decorated with a stucco scene depicting the patron of the Chapter, St. George  Killing the Dragon, attributed to David Reti. The altarpiece is  The Virgin and Child by Claudio Ridolfi.
Under the organ, which is decorated with paintings by Felice Brusasorci, is the door which opens into a Romanesque atrium which leads, straight on, into the church of St Elena and to the right to the Baptistery, called St Giovanni in Fonte. Saint Elena is reached by passing over the excavated remains of the early 4th-century basilica. The church itself is a single nave space renovated after the earthquake of 1117. The altarpiece from 1573-9 depicts The Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Stephen, Zeno, George and Helen by Felice Brusasorci. The gallery at the back has worn trompe l'oeil balustrade. The outside wall has an inscription stating that Dante read his first oration, the famous Question of  Water and Earth (Quaestio de acqua et terra) beneath the 15th century portico here in 1320. The Baptistery, rebuilt around 1123 on the site of the original 8th-9th century baptistery, has a nave and two aisles and is dominated by a large 13th-century octagonal font made from red Verona marble, with eight carved scenes from the Annunciation to the Baptism of Christ.  These panels are by two hands: Briolato, also responsible for the Wheel of Fortune window in San Zeno, and anonymous master, whose style is more typical Venetian/Byzantine. There's a processional Crucifix here too, attributed to Giovanni Badile from the early 15th century and fresco fragments from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. Also a Virgin and Child with Saints Stephen and Martin (1514) by Giovanni Caroto tucked away sharp into the back of the right-hand aisle. Also a large Baptism of Christ by Farinati over the door.
Back in the Cathedral, the apse has a semi-circular polychrome marble screen of Ionic columns, the tornacoro, designed by Michele Sanmicheli and commissioned by reforming Bishop Gian Matteo Ghiberti and foreshadowing the architectural influence of the Council of Trent. It dates to 1534, as does the  trompe l'oeil frescoing by Francesco Torbido which was based on preparatory sketches by Giulio Romano.
Back up the right hand side, the deep baroque chapel is the Memo Chapel and is followed by two chapels with fresco surrounds by Giovanni Maria Falconetto. The right-hand one of the pair, the Calcasoli chapel, (just past the cash desk) has a small Adoration of the Magi (c.1485) by Liberale da Verona, somewhat overpopulated and with a worrying pile of pink putti looking like blancmange behind the Virgin. It is surrounded in its frame by paintings of saints and an Entombment by Nicolo Giolfino. The last chapel, opposite the Titian, has frescoes around it attributed to Antonio Badile. In front of its altarpiece is a somewhat gruesome little group of The Martyrdom of San Arcadio by sculptor Angelo Sartori.

Romanesque base with a 16th-century middle by Michele Sanmicheli left unfinished. The top was finally completed in 1913 by Ettore Fagiuoli, but it still lacks a spire.

Lost art
The astonishingly stark large Crucifixion by Jacopo Bellini, now in the Castelvecchio, was originally in the Bishop's Palace here. Three fine predella panels of 1489 of episodes from the Life of the Virgin by Liberale da Verona, from an altarpiece once in the Chapel of the Madonna del Popolo, are now in the Bishop's Palace.

The  Bishop's Palace
Has frescoes with imaginary depictions of early bishops by Domenico Brusasorci in the Bishop's Hall.

The Cloister and Canonic Museum
An alley to the left of the facade leads to lovely Romanesque cloister of around 1140 (see left) which has double arcades of paired columns on the east side, the west side having been reconstructed after destruction by bombing in WWII. Fragments of the mosaic floor from the early Christian basilica are visible, but most of it remains buried under the lawn. When visited in 2015 the entrance to the Museo Canonicale had a glossy poster from 2011 by the door with the opening times all Tipp-Exed out. It is said to have 12th-century paintings and sculpture, and mosaics in its underground rooms.

Opening times
Monday-Saturday: 10.00 - 17.30
Sunday and holidays: 13.30 - 17.30
(November-February the closing time is 17.00 and the church closes 13.00-13.30 on weekdays)

September 2017 Inside the church the middle of the nave, between the 3rd and 4th columns, is full of scaffolding and sheeting with plastic sheeting covering the organs on the wall behind and everything in presbytery. The entrance is now the rear of the church and takes you straight to Saint Elena, the Baptistery and the excavations.




Padre Filippini

Dedicated to the Saints Fermo and Rustico. Built from 1746, to designs by Andrea Camerata, by the Oratorians, who had found their previous church, San Fermo Minore, to be becoming too small. Finished by 1791 and decorated with works from the destroyed San Fermo Minore. The church was heavily damaged during the Second World War and subsequently rebuilt.



San Bernardino


The Franciscan Saint Bernardino from Siena was canonized in 1450, six years after his death, and on 30th April 1452 his friend Giovanni da Capestrano began building this complex with the help of the Venetian doge Francesco Foscari. The church was consecrated in 1453, although the nave and its ceiling were not completed until 1466. Later a smaller aisle was added with chapels being build in the later 15th and earlier 16th century. Suppressed by Napoleon in 1810 and restored from 1930. The convent in this time was been put to use as a cemetery for the city, a barracks, a warehouse and a school.

The church is approached across a large cloister with frescoes in the wall lunettes in a simple style bordering on what one might call naive. The tombs and tablets here date from the period when the cloister housed the town cemetery.  The brick fašade has Gothic windows and a Renaissance doorway, from 1474, with statues of three Franciscan saints (Bonaventura, Bernardino and Antonio) on top and a lunette panel showing St Francis Receiving the Stigmata by Biagio Falcieri.

A single huge high nave, as is usual in Franciscan churches, but with a later-added aisle on the right with shallow side chapels containing 16th century works, and one deep one, the first.
This first chapel is the Terziari, dedicated to St Francis with frescoes of the Saint's life in the vault and that of St John on the walls. These are the work of Nicol˛ Giolfino. Over the altar here is a copy of
Paolo Morando (Cavazzola)'s Altarpiece of the Virtues, the original now being in the Castelvecchio museum.  
The second has an altarpiece of the Virgin and Child with Saints by Francesco Bonsignori, looking like it has suffered some later unskilled restoration of the faces.
The third contains some disturbingly modern-looking frescos from 1932 looking like Hollywood epic film stills. The modern Adam and Eve is especially unnerving.
The fourth, Medici, chapel has frescos inside, above and spreading into the nave (see right) by Domenico Morone (1498). Sinopie of a pair of figures from the columns are displayed on the first two columns on the right as you enter the church.
The fifth, the Avanzi Chapel (1546) at the end (see photo below far right), is a Who's Who of early 16th century Veronese art. There are panels by Gian Francesco Caroto (Christ Taking Leave of his Mother bottom right on left hand wall), Antonio Badile (The Resurrection of Lazarus, bottom left on left hand wall), Giolfino (remainder of left-hand wall and the Arrest of Jesus opposite), and Cavazzola (Paolo Morando). But the last-named artist's works (all of those on the end wall except the Crucifixion, which is by
Francesco Morone from 1497/8) are copies, the originals now being nicely displayed in the Castelvecchio. They are painted lit from the right to reflect the position of the window in this chapel. Under this window and above the lower grilled window (which is into the room with the painted stone group of The Lamentation) is a poor-condition poor copy of Paolo Veroneseĺs very early Christ Revives the Daughter of Jairus of c. 1546. The original was stolen in 1696 when the Viennese art dealer Peter Strudel bribed three monks to replace it with a copy in the middle of the night. The copy, by one Giovanni Cagnoto, was so bad it was spotted immediately and the monks were tried and convicted. The original painting has still not been found, but an oil sketch for it is in the Louvre. It indicates that Cagnoto's copy, whilst not pretty, is pretty accurate.
The door to the right before the apse leads to the surprisingly bright and airy and harmoniously proportioned
Pellegrini Chapel (see right) designed by Michele Sanmicheli and built for Margherita Pellegrini in 1527 in memory of her son. It has a very mannerist altarpiece of the Virgin and Child with St Anne of 1579 by Bernardino India, flanked by very Caravaggist panels depicting Saints Joachim and Joseph by Pasquale Ottino from c.1620.  He also did the lunette.
The apse, frescoed by Michele da Verona, was destroyed by bombing during WWII but rebuilt to its original design, but the frescoes were destroyed. A fine tremezzo (rood screen), mentioned in Alethia Wiel's guidebook of 1907, was presumably lost at this time too. The altarpiece is the very Mantagnesque so-called San Bernardino Altarpiece of 1462 by Francesco Benaglio.
Along the left wall the first, Baroque, altar is by Francesco Bibiena with an altarpiece by Antonio Balestra of the Three Franciscan Fathers. It's followed by two confessionals, a pulpit, and then a grey temple-looking stone altar with pretty fresco foliage surrounding. It's altarpiece is a Nativity by Bernardo India, with statues of Isaiah and the Cumaean sibyl flanking it. The organ of 1481 has doors painted with San Francesco and San Bernardino by Domenico Morone.

Lost art
A panel of St Francis Receiving the Stigmata by Francesco Morone is in the Castelvecchio, with two panel fragments of Saint Francis and Saint Bartholomew. Also a Washing of the Feet from the Capella della Croce here.
An altarpiece and a predella panel depicting Saint Francis Giving the Ruke to the Nuns of Saint Claire by Cavazzola (Paolo Morando) are in the Castelvecchio. Another of the predella panels Saint Francis Dictating the Rule of the Tertiaries, is in Budapest, whilst the third Saint Francis and the Minor Friars, is lost. His Passion Polyptych (1517) replaced by copies in the Cappella degli Avanzi (see above right) now looking glorious in the Castelvecchio (see photo right). (The figure of Nicodemus, with a red beard and wearing a turban, in the central panel is, according to Vasari, a self portrait, and Joseph of Arimathea, supporting Christ, is supposed to be Francesco Morone.) Four panels from the predella of this altarpiece, showing Saints John the Baptist, Joseph, Bonaventura and Bernardino of Feltre, are also in the Castelvecchio. As is, from the Terziari chapel here, where a copy replaces it too, his impressive Altarpiece of the Virtues. All of these works are in the first room after the outdoor Cannegrande statue, a room dominated by Cavazzola works from this church.
Three predella panels by Caroto, depicting The Birth of the Virgin, The Adoration of the Magi and The Massacre of the Innocents with the Flight into Egypt are in the Carrara in Bergamo. They are said to have painted for the altar dedicated to the Virgin here.
His biographer Ridolfi mentions an early Jesus Healing St Peter's Mother in Law by Paolo Veronese, in front of his master Antonio Badile's The Resurrection of Lazarus in the Avanzi Chapel. It has been lost since 1697. (See the story of the copy above)

Opening times (church and library)
Monday - Friday: 15.00 - 18.30
Tuesday - Sunday: 08.30 - 12.00
Saturday & holidays 15.30-18.30
It makes sense when you realise that the first and third lines are the afternoon opening times and the second line is the mornings.



The Library
From the main cloister, entered left of the facade, you access a corridor and upstairs is the old Sagramoso Library, named for Lionello Sagramoso who died in 1496 leaving money for a library here. It is now called the Sala Morone, as it is decorated with frescoes by Domenico and Francesco Morone, begun in 1494 and finished in 1503. The end wall has a Virgin Enthroned with Lionello Sagramoso and his wife Anna Tramarino being presented by Saints Francis and Clare. There are also Fourteen Pairs of Franciscan Saints and Dignitaries on the back and side walls. Each pair of Franciscans consist of a cardinal and a doctor of the church standing on a pedestal. Domenico Morone (1442-after 1503) and Francesco Morone (c.1471-1529) his son, are both buried in the church? here. There's also the 15th century cloister of San Francesco, with frescoes from the 15th and 16th centuries in the lunettes.





A book (now in the Verona State Archives) detailing the
building work here (with a drawing of  Saint Bernardino
on the front) between 1456 and 1471.



San Domenico


A  church and monastery was built on land bought in 1517 the Dominican nuns, but the major work was between 1537 and 1543  The church was consecrated on November 11, 1554 and was rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries. The complex suffered significant damage during World War II.  The church looks pretty derelict but has been used by Evangelical Lutherans since October 3rd 2010.

Lost art

The Castelvecchio's famous Virgin and Child with Saint Catherine, called the Madonna of the Rose Garden (see right) of  c.1420ľ1435, attributed most recently to Michelino da Besozzo and previously to Stefano da Verona. Crowe and Cavalcaselle (in A history of Painting in North Italy) thought that it was by Pisanello.

Opening times
Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8.30-1.30
a very faded sign says


San Fermo
San Fermo Maggiore

There may have been a church at this site as early as the 6th century, built on the site of Saints Fermo and Rustico's torture and martyrdom in 304. In 765 Saint Annone, the bishop of Verona, acquired the saints remains from Trieste, after the payment of a ransom, and placed them in this early Christian church in a lead sarcophagus in the confessional. (They had initially been buried in Carthage.) From 1065 to 1143 Benedictine monks demolished the old church and built the current split Romanesque structure - the earlier lower church to house the relics and the later upper for services.
Franciscans occupying the small church of San Francesco al Corso and in need of larger premises petitioned Pope Innocent IV to allow them to move into San Fermo. He agreed and evicted the six remaining monks on 10 May 1249. They argued and resisted until 1260, and so it wasn't until 1261 that the
complex passed to the Franciscans. They transformed the upper church, rebuilding it in Gothic style, with an aisleless nave more in keeping with their preaching needs, and in layout similar to their mother church in Assisi. This interior work which was completed in 1350.
The following centuries saw the addition of chapels, altars and monuments. In 1759 the remains of the martyrs were moved in their sarcophagus to the upper church, to protect them from floods. In 1807 the Franciscans were ejected by Napoleon and much of the complex was put to State use, with the church passing to parish use. In 1909 buildings that concealed the east-end chapels were removed and the lower church was opened in 1946 for services. It is still used for services during the winter. Bombing during WWII destroyed the cloisters but left the church largely undamaged.

Characteristic brick and marble striped Romanesque fašade with a more gothic lower section. To the left of the main door is the 1350 tomb of Avantino Fracastoro, physician to the della Scallas who died in 1368. The damaged and fragmentary frescoes from the tomb,  of the 1380s, depicting The Coronation of the Virgin were detached in 1958 and taken to the Castelvecchio, along with their sinopie. They are attributed to the bottega di Altichiero. The main door has 24 bronze panels showing the lives of Saints Fermo and Rustico made by Luciano Minguzzi in 1997. The door to the street is 14th century and framed with polychrome marble.

Inside a large aisleless Franciscan space there's a mixture of styles of chapel and layers of frescoes from the late Middles Ages and the early Renaissance, but the latter looking overall vivider than elsewhere. The impressive five-lobed ship's-hull ceiling of 1314 is painted with around 416 saints from 1310-1350. The design of vegetation spirals below the ceiling level has the same date.

The (Nicol˛) Brenzoni Monument of 1426, on your left as you enter, combines sculpture of The Resurrection by Nanni di Bartolo, a Florentine pupil of Donatello, with a fresco of The Annunciation by Pisanello. The sculptural elements would originally have been painted and decorated with gold leaf, and so would have merged more impressively with Pisanello's painting. His work consists of many layers - the true fresco base is overpainted a secco with pigments which couldn't be used in true fresco, and there are gold molded pastiglie stars nailed on. This is his earliest surviving work, but already features his signature wildlife. The painted figures of two more archangels,  Saints Raphael and Michael, in fictive niches above are also by him. Only three examples of Pisanello's fresco work survive, and two are in Verona - the other being at
Sant'Anastasia - whilst his work in Mantua is very damaged. The framing cornice of red Verona limestone has also been gilded and painted.
Opposite, and further down the church, the pulpit of white marble and 'Verona red' limestone (1396) is by Antonio da Mestre with framing frescoes by Martino da Verona depicting Evangelists, Doctors of the Church, Prophets and Learned Men of Antiquity. The altar to the right of the pulpit is 16th century came here from the church of Santissima TrinitÓ in 1913.
Over the side door (and the main door) are 14th century frescoed Crucifixions, of different scales, by Turone di Maxio, who looks to have been an admirer of Giotto - the one over the side door has formerly been ascribed to Cimabue and Giotto. The frescoes on this side are relatively recent discoveries.
Our Lady's Chapel, just beyond the side door, contains a fine altarpiece by Gian Francesco Caroto of the Virgin and Child with Saints Anne, John the Baptist, Peter, Rocco and Sebastian of 1528.
The apse is enclosed by a semi-circular screen of 1523. Fine frescoing in the apse vault and on the surrounding arch is by an unknown artist dubbed the Maestro del Redentore. They were formerly attributed to Giotto, of course, and later Pisanello. One of the donors, Guglielmo da Castelbarco, can be seen on the right clutching a representation of the church. He it was who also did much for Sant'Anastasia, and whose famous tomb is outside the church, over the gate to the left of the main entrance. Opposite is a matching portrait of Fra Daniele Gusmmerio, the other founder/donor. Beneath these are a pair of scenes by Domenico Veneziano - a very damaged Coronation of the Virgin and an Adoration of the Magi.

To the left of the apse is the Chapel of Saint Anthony where 14th century frescoes, once covered by whitewash, and later canvases and panels can still be seen, as the panels have been made to open out and fold away. These Franciscan frescoes include a very Giottesque Crucifixion.
To the right of the apse is a chapel containing a fine Crucifixion by Domenico Brucasorci.
In the right transept is the Alighieri Chapel, the resting place of the last descendents of Dante, erected by Francesco, the end of the male line, his daughter marrying into the Veronese Serego family.
Access via the right transept to the Benedictine Lower church, and we are talking church - this does not feel like a crypt. Three rows of square columns and pillars, support the ceiling. Tantalisingly faded earlier (12th/14th century) frescos. There are seventy frescoes, mostly saints on the square pillars, and much decorative use of red lines and six-petalled flowers, found during restoration in 2005, the latter being symbolic of  Christ's resurrection. The penultimate column in the right aisle has an inscription which gives us the date of the start of building as 1065.

Begun by the Benedictines but not completed until the 13th century.

Lost art
A still partially polychromed statue of Saint Martha, a Saint John the Baptist and a Swooning Virgin Mary, all three by the Master of Sant'Anastasia from the first half of the 14th century are in the Castelvecchio.
Painted for Altabella Avogaro Dal Bavo, the Virgin and Child with Saints Onuphrius, Jerome, Donato and Christopher, known as the Dal Bavo Altarpiece 1484 by Francesco Bonsignori, which was in the family chapel here, in the Castelvecchio since 1881.
A Nativity with Saint Jerome  by Liberale da Verona, once in the second sacristy here, is now in the Castelvecchio.
Veronese's first altarpiece, a Virgin and Child with Saints John the Baptist and Louis and two donors (the Bevilacqua Lazise Altarpiece) painted when he was 18, hung in a chapel here commissioned in 1544 by Lucrezia Malespina in memory of her husband Giovanni Bevilacqua Lazise, the donors depicted, but was transferred to the Castelvecchio in 1865 following the demolition of the chapel.
The sculptor Andrea Riccio from Padua made a tomb for Girolamo della Torre and his son Marcantonio, two physician-professors, in this church between 1516 and 1521. Its eight bronze reliefs of pagan scenes are now in the Louvre.

Opening times
Monday-Saturday 10.00 - 18.00
Sunday and holidays: 13.00 - 18.00
(November-February the closing time is 17.00 and the church closes 13.00-13.30)

September 2017 Considerable restoration work is currently going on. There is scaffolding in patches on the outside of the church and a huge column of it in the middle of nave inside, denying access to the pulpit and Chapel of our Lady, but with a tunnel through it so that you can visit each end. The lower church is unaffected. The entrance is now through the cloister at the rear of the church.



San Giorgio in Braida

A church was first built here in the late 8th century, in a field by the walls, hence Braida from the Germanic breit meaning a clearing. The current church was built from 1477 to designs by Antonio Ricci. This building was instigated by Venetian monks, the Canons Regular from San Giorgio in Alga, who acquired the monastery complex from the Benedictines in 1442. In the mid-16th-century the Venetian mannerist architect Michele Sanmicheli added a rare-for-Verona dome. He also designed the campanile, actually executed by Bernardino Brugnoli, who never finished it. The facade was begun later in the 16th century but only finished in the 17th, with the statues of the Saints George and Lorenzo Giustiniani added in the 18th century.

A somewhat stern and bare aisleless nave with four deepish chapels each side and a dome over the crossing, all the work of Sanmicheli from 1536-43. An organ and choir gallery take the place of transept arms, both supported by four columns.
The deep apse has Veronese's Martyrdom of St. George over the high altar, painted in 1566, the same year that he was in Verona to marry Elena Badile. The altar itself was designed by Bernardino Brugnoli, a nephew of Sanmicheli, although some sources attribute it to Sanmicheli himself. On the left of the apse is Manna by Felice Brusasorci, on the right The Multiplication of the Loaves is a late work by by Paolo Farinati. Both are a bit forgettable and were completed by the pupils Alessandro Turchi and Pasquale Ottino. Either side of the arch is a pair of canvas, once organ shutters, of the Annunciation by Giovanni Caroto.

Some very fine altarpieces in the nave, though, once admired by Goethe and lit by red buttons by the label stands. The first chapel on the left has Saint Ursula and Her Companions (1545) by Francesco Caroto, the second has a Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence (1583) by Sigismono de Stefani.
The triptych in the third is from c.1510/15 and by Gian Francesco Caroto, with admirable paintings of the plague saints Roch and Sebastian. The soppy central panel of Saint Joseph and the Christ Child (1882) is by someone named Recchia and covers a fresco of the 14th century of Christ Carrying the Cross which was said to have miraculous powers but had become damaged. There's a lunette panel of The Transfiguration above, and a large later (1545) oval painting of Apostles Trying to Exorcise a Demon from a Possessed Boy by Domenico Brusasorci. The predella panels depict Christ in Gethsemane, the Entombment and the Resurrection, with the pilasters between the panels having figures important to the Canons Regular.
A highlight is the Virgin and Child Enthroned between Saints Zeno and Lorenzo Giustiniani of 1526 in the next one (also known as the Madonna della Cintura) (see right), by Girolamo dai Libri, which is decidedly Bellini-ish with another Domenico Brusasorci lunette above.
Above the main door is a an unusually simple Baptism of Christ by Tintoretto. There's also a Pentecost by Domenico Tintoretto, his son, over the third altar on the right. A Virgin with the Three Archangels and Tobias by Felice Brusasorci is in the next one.

Lost art
An enormous stage-set-like Crucifixion of 1501 painted for the refectory here by Michele da Verona is now in the Brera. The coat of arms at upper right suggests that it was commissioned by Niccol˛ Orsini. A smaller version, dated 28th March 1505, was painted for the church of Santa Maria in Vanzo in Verona, both being commissioned by the Secular Canons of the Blessed Lorenzo Giustiniani.
Paolo Veroneseĺs Miracle of Saint Barnabas was taken from this church by the French in 1797, as was his Martyrdom of Saint George. The Saint George was returned in 1815 but Saint Barnabas was not and is now in a gallery in Rouen. The church displays a copy under the choir gallery.

Nearby shrapnel
The 1791 rectory attached to the church still has bullet holes from October 1805 from the fighting between the French and Austrian troops occupying opposite banks of the Adige.

Opening times
A group called Verona Minor Hierusalem seem to have taken over the touristic visit times for this church, and four more nearby. (My friendly enquiring email was ignored.)
The times they publicise are
Thursday, Friday, Saturday 10.00 - 5.30
Sunday 1.00 - 7.30
I assume that the churches will be open at other times too.

September 2017
There is currently scaffolding on the exterior, all up the body of church, campanile base, and dome, but not covering the fašade



The church in the 19th century.

San Giovanni in Foro

Originally built on the main Roman road, now the Corso Porta Borsari, opposite the Forum, hence in Foro. The first written evidence of the church dates from 959. This church was heavily damaged during the fire of 1172 and rebuilt in Romanesque style. During restoration work on the campanile in 1902 charred remains of crenulations and arrow slits were found, suggesting that the tower had been converted from an older defensive tower. A few years later plaster falling from the outside walls revealed the brick and pebble banding and later removal of interior plaster revealed 14th century frescoes. San Giovanni served as a parish church during the medieval period.

The renaissance doorway bears the name of the donor, Benedetto Rizoni, a prelate and commentator on the scriptures, and his arms, featuring a hedgehog rampant. It is topped by sculpted figures by Girolamo Giolfino of Saints John the Evangelist (in the centre),  Peter, and John the Baptist/Paul? to left and right. The fresco in the lunette of St John the Evangelist on Patmos is by Nicol˛ Giolfino, Girolamo's nephew. Between the two large windows in a square niche is a very weathered fresco of The Deposition by Domenico


An aisleless space with a timber roof and two chapels on the left. In decoration one is very modern, but with an impressive timber coffered ceiling, and one is very baroque.
Opposite then there is a miniscule crib made by the soldiers here during Christmas 1917 when the church was being used as a military hospital.
Over the high altar the Crucifixion by an 18th century artist called Giovan Battista Rossi (called Gobbino) features the Virgin, St. John the Evangelist, St. Dominic of Padua (probably added posthumously) and a weeping figure thought to be the commissioner of the work. Frescoes either side depict the prophets Isaiah (left) and Jeremiah.
The interior has undergone much baroque-era and later renovation.
Four red marble columns support a women's gallery at the back, now bricked up, but hung with paintings by Antonio Giarola (The Virgin and Child with Saints Sebastian and John the Evangelist, in the centre) and Claudio Ridolfi (The Virgin and Child and The Guardian Angel, to either side). Frescoes include a very pale and damaged 14th century Virgin Lactans with Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. On the left wall between the chapels is a Virgin and Child sculpture of the 13th century signed by Maestro Pulia, court artist and sculptor to the Scala family.

Opening times 9.30-12.00, 3.00-7.00



San Giovanni in Valle


Founded in the 8th century and rebuilt after destruction during the 1117 earthquake. Badly bombed in 1944, destroying the church's 13th and 14th century frescos. 15th century doorway and porch with The Virgin and Saints Bartholomew and  Anthony Abbot, a fresco by Stefano da Zevio in the lunette.

A long narrow nave on two levels with two aisles divided by slim marble columns alternating with stout square ones. A high timber ceiling with a considerable pale brick and stone clerestory level with three small windows one side and some fresco bits on the other. Decoration in last two pairs of arches before altar. Patches of early fresco which evidently appeared from under whitewash in late 19th/early 20th century. Later frescoes by Brusasorci and Giolfino are reported, but I did not find them.

The crypt
To be found under the raised half of the nave. The remains of the 9th century church are towards the front, with the rear in Romanesque style and dating to the 12th. Damaged frescoes on the right wall.
Also down here are a pair of early Christian sarcophagi. The one on the left is said to contain the relics of Saints Jude and Simon and has carved reliefs on the side. The other may be Roman and has busts of the husband and wife in the centre as well as figures of Saints Peter and Paul at the corners.

Local artist
The first record of the life of Liberale da Verona is in the census of 1455 for the neighbourhood of this church

Romanesque below, like the cloister, and topped with the bell chamber in 18th century.

Opening times
A group called Verona Minor Hierusalem seem to have taken over the touristic visit times for this church, and four more nearby. (My cheerful and enquiring email was ignored.) The times they publicise for this church are
Thursday, Friday, Saturday 10.00 - 5.30
Sunday 12.00 - 5.30
These are the Visite Turistiche times posted on a pc-printed sheet just inside the gate too.




San Girolamo

In the Roman Theatre complex, now part of the Archaeological Museum, along with the complex's refectory (where fragments of fresco remain) and cloisters. built by the Jesuits in 1492. Following a series of sales, the building came to one Giovanni Bertani, who rebuilt it in 1838 in its present form.

A small church with a ceiling of painted wooden panels, the nave now used to display patches of mosaic flooring.

The Annunciation fresco over the apse arch is an early work by Gian Francesco Caroto, signed and dated 1508. In the underside of the apse arch, frescoed 1465 under Domenico Morone's direction, the Four Evangelists are 'obviously by the hand of Liberale da Verona' Inside the apse are four lunettes and a window -  Christ is flanked by Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and to the right is Saint Jerome. Over the altar is a panel depicting Saint Jerome of 1578 by Paolo Farinati.




San Lorenzo

The original Roman basilica on this site (supposedly dedicated to Venus) was built in the 5th century and restored in the late 8th. The current church was built around 1110, and it is suggested that Lanfranc of Modena, the architect credited with that city's famed cathedral, was responsible. There was more work after 1117, after the earthquake, and considerably enlargement shortly after that. The pre- and post-earthquake phases are visible on the outside as the alternating bands of pebbles with brick and stone in the lower level give way to just bricks and stone above the lower windows. Extensive restoration in 1877 to return it to its former glory.

From the street you get to the church through a 15th century archway, with a statue of Saint Lawrence above, clutching his gridiron attribute, into a small courtyard containing decorative fragments from the original early Christian basilica. The church's exterior has the characteristic Veronese Romanesque banding of brick and tufa. The porch and the campanile also date to the late 15th century. The pair of cylindrical towers either side of the (somewhat hemmed in) fašade contain spiral staircases used to access the matronea, or women's gallery.

An atmospheric and impressive Romanesque interior, very tall with four very stout cruciform piers alternating with four unmatching marble columns which divide the the tall aisles from the looming nave with a wooden roof. There's a simple semi-circular apse and galleries for women (
which were divided into separate spaces for virgins, widows and matrons) around the sides and back, with chapels where the transept arms would be and larger gallery spaces above them. Open chapels on either side of the apse with some of the church's characteristic small and sparse 13th century fresco fragments.

Art highlights

Above the high altar - a Virgin and Child with Saints John the Baptist, Lawrence and Augustine (see left) by Domenico Brusasorci of 1566.

15th century

Opening times
Weekdays 9.00 - 12.00, 3.00-5.00
Sundays and holidays 3.00 - 6.00




San Luca

The original church on this site was built in 1172 by the Cavalieri Crociferi (Knights of the Crucifix). This Order was abolished in 1656 by Pope Alexander III. In March 1657 the  church passed to the Compagnia del Santissimo Sacramento (Society of the Most Holy Sacrament). Major rebuilding followed -  the fašade in1675 and  the high altar in 1691. Expansion from 1753 to reconsecration in 1755. The Compagnia were  suppressed by Napoleon in 1807 and in 1808 San Luca became a parish church, appointing San Silvestro and Ognissanti. More work in the 19th century, as a result of road widening, in 1874, the altar dedicated to Saint Luke was demolished . Only the exterior right side of the church is now visible, due to building around the church.

Mostly 18th century and later but there's an unusual large frescoed chapel dedicated to The Fallen on the left.

Dates to 1760, new bells installed in the 19th century.


San Matteo Concortine

A church, built over a  temple to the Roman god Giano, first mentioned in a document of 1105 when part of the church was given to the abbey of Pomposa. Restoration work in the 18th century was followed by suppression in 1860. Used during the WW2 as a military warehouse and after this as a carpentry workshop.
Now a pizza restaurant.
 Through a glass panel in the floor the remains of the ancient temple of Giano can still be seen.

Lost art
A panel depicting the Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine by the Studio of Antonio Badile II and
a Virgin and Child in Glory with Saints Matthew and Jerome and a donor, called the Madonna de' Caliari, by Nicolo Giolfinohave have both been in the Castelvecchio since 1812.

San Nicol˛
San Nicol˛ all'Arena

Large and baroque and built from 1627 to plans by Lelio Pellesina on the site of a previous Romanesque church dedicated to the same saint. All that remains of the old church is a crypt under the ape. The new church was built for the Theatine order which had resided in the convent of Santa Maria della Ghiara since 1591. Work began on 21st March 1627, initially involving enlarging the already-existing church and changing its orientation, and progressed slowly for the next two years when work stopped due the plague. Later work resumed with new funds leading to the completion of two side chapels and the sacristy. But funds ran out before the dome, campanile and facade were built. The interior decoration was finished and on 27th May 1697 the bishop of Verona consecrated the church. With the Napoleonic suppressions of 1806 the order was ejected and the church closed. The convent complex housed a barracks and then a school. The church has an 18th century neo-classical facade, grafted on in the 1950s, taken from a church called San Sebastiano, which was where the city library now stands and which was all but destroyed during WW2.

pleasingly proportioned and airy space - low-key Baroque with no aisles but four domed chapels and a transept topped by a trompe l'oeil dome. The Baroque high altar was built by Guarino Guarini after the plague of 1630. Tasteful modern stained glass, but no great art by the 17th century likes of Antonio Balestra (Saint John the Baptist in the Desert, first chapel on right), Mattia Preti (Saints Gaetano (the founder of the Theatines) and Andrew Avellino (a later Theatine Saint) second chapel on left) and Alessandro Turchi (also known as Orbetto) (Annunciation with Saints Joseph, John the Baptist and the blessed Marinoni (the last is a local Theatine almost-saint of the 16th century and spiritual advisor to Andrew Avellino) on the right in the chancel).

Lost art
Seven fresco fragments from the convent here, by Nicola Giolfino, showing female allegorical figures, have been in the Castelvecchio since their removal in 1873.

Church of the Stigmata

In 1816, following suppression by Napoleon, the complex (including the old church of San Francesco) was taken over by Gaspar Bertoni, a local priest and (later) saint. He established a school here and later founded the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ, later known as the Stigmatines.

Short but wide with two pairs of chunky columns dividing the nave from the wide aisles. A nicely-done painted ceiling.

Gymnastics in the stadium comunale 1931.

San Paolo in Campo Marzio

A Romanesque church dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul was built here in the late 11th century. In 1183 rebuilding began, probably due to damage sustained during the earthquake of January 3, 1117. Run by secular priests until 1232 when it passed to the Order of the Umiliati.  More work in 1289, when the Umiliati are thought to have left, during which a campanile was built. Count Alessandro Pompei, an architect and scholar of ancient Veronese art, directed later rebuilding between 1740 and 1768. Gaspar Bertoni was baptised here on October 10th 1777 - he went on to found the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Stigmatines) in Verona and was canonised in 1989. There is a plaque in the baptistery here celebrating his 200th birthday. On January 4 1945 allied bombing gutted the church, but the most important works of art were saved by having been removed and placed in shelters. The church was reconstructed by 1950, recreating the style of the 18th century rebuilding.

Wide, pale and boxy inside - even the square chancel has a flat back. A single nave with three altars either side of the nave of varying depth.
Of the transept chapels the one on the right, the Marogna, built for Antonio and Giovanni Battista Morogna and dated 1565, has the Virgin and Child and Saints John the Baptist and Anthony and Donors by Paolo Veronese (see right). Veronese was born in the parish of San Paolo in Campo Marzio, where many painters - the dai Libri, Cavazzola and Farinati - also lived. The chapel also has some so-so frescoes, illustrating the stories of Jonah and Elijah on the walls and angels on the ceiling, by Paolo Farinati, a friend of Veronese who was best man at his wedding and is buried in this church.
In the left transept chapel is an impressive San Francesco di Paola by Domenico Brusasorci, part of a triptych, the rest of which is lost.
On the flat back of the chancel is a Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Peter and Paul (1516) by Giovanni Caroto with the figures in a very steeply illusionustic portico. Otherwise the chancel just contains a modern altar and two 20th century paintings. The sacristy has a Virgin with Saints Anthony and Mary Magdalene by Francesco Bonsignori.

The central right-hand chapel has a likable family group of the Virgin and Child with Saints Anne, Joseph and Joachim by Girolamo dai Libri, called the Giuliari Altarpiece. Two members of the commissioning Baughi family are in the foreground gazing up. It has the artist's characteristic branches of lemons, the lemon being symbolic of fidelity and hence, we're told, of the Virgin Mary.
The middle chapel on the left has a darkened 1588 Virgin and Child and Saints Nicholas of Bari and Francis by the already-mentioned Paolo Farinati.
On the right wall of the next chapel along is a somewhat flat and precise copy of Farinati's Deposition by his son Orazio.

Lost art
A Virgin and Child with Saints Anthony Abbot and Mary Magdalene, probably by Francesco Bonsignori, is now in the Castelvecchio.



San Pietro in Monasterio


San Pietro Incarnario

Was a Benedictine church in 1147. Had/has an Annunciation by Paulo Farinati. Deconsecrated and currently used for art exhibitions.

Founded in the 10th century on the site of a plague pit, hence carnario, by the Marchese Milone, in an area then on the outskirts of the city. The first documented mention is in Milone's will, dated 10th of July 955. Several rebuildings, the last in the 18th century. Following bomb damage during WWII the facade was rebuilt further into the church and two of its six side chapels (damaged by the bombing) were thereby lost. Now used by a Romanian Orthodox congregation.

Today it's an aisleless box. The crypt contains remains of the earlier church, including a fresco of the Crucifixion which may date (experts argue) from the 10th or 11th (or 13th) century. Works by Brusasorci?

Campanile 14th century




San Pietro Martire
San Giorgetto

Built before 1283, a frescoed inscription above the entrance records consecration in 1354. It was given as a church and mausoleum to Teutonic Knights who had the year before helped Cangrande II della Scala defeat a plot to overthrow him lead by his half-brother Fregno. The dedication to Saint George was change to Saint Peter Martyr in 1424 when the church was given to the Dominicans.
French occupation left its marks with burn patches and bullet holes but the building was returned to the Franciscans until 1806, when it became the oratory of the Royal LycÚe and Boarding School established in the convent of Saint Anastasia. It was at this time that a coat of lime was applied over the frescoes, with the still-visible chisel marks made to make it stick. In 1875 the frescoes were discovered and restored, but the the restoration practices of the period resulted in further losses to the paint surface.
In the early 20th century it fell out of use and remained closed until the mid-1970s when the city government intervened to repair damage from damp. In 1994 restoration of the frescoes was undertaken, and between 2004 and 2009, with the help of Legambiente, whose volunteers staff the open days.

There's a funeral monument of Bavarino de' Crescenzi (1346) on the facade, and Gugliemo di Castelbarco's funerary tomb, considered the prototype of the Scaliger tombs, is on top of the arch between the church and Santa Anastasia.

A single nave with 14th and early-16th century frescos. The Teutonic Knights commissioned most of the frescoes in the late 14th century. The three walls in the nave consist of a row of  vegetable motifs, under which is a row of coats of arms of the knights. The larger funerary panels below represent the dead knights with saints.

15th century votive panels of the 15th commissioned by the Lay Brotherhood of Saint Peter portraying their patron. The first of these on the right-hand wall, nearest the presbytery, is by Giovanni Badile, the larger one to its right, past the plaque, is by Turone di Maxio. The back wall has two of the earlier funerary scenes with knights, by Bartolomeo Badile, to the left of the door. To the right of the door is an anonymous funerary scene and one of the later a Saint Peter panels, by Giovanni Badile (c.1424).

On the left hand wall there are two funerary panels by the Second Master of San Zeno, them, after the first door a throne and coat of arms fragment by Giovanni Badile (c1438). After the second door are a Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saint John the Evangelist by Turone di Maxio (1345/75) and Saint Peter Martyr by Giovanni Badile (c.1437) (see right).
In the presbytery (see below) - a 1354  Crucifixion by the Second Master of San Zeno. Above is an allegory of The Annunciation by Falconett0 of 1509-15, commissioned by Hans Weineck and Kasper KŘnigl (both portrayed in the fresco)  two advisors to the Habsburg  Emperor Maximilian I.

Lost art
Signed by Giovanni Badile, the Virgin & Child with Saints Anthony, George, James, Peter Martyr, Zeno and Mammas, known as The Aquila Polyptych (see right) went to the Castelvecchio in 1812. It is known as the Aquila Polyptych because of a black eagle in a gold frame which used to to be on the frame. It may previously have been in Sant'Anastasia.



San Pietro Martire


Bishop Sebastian Pisani on April 28, 1656 blessed the first stone of the church of San Pietro Martire, erected on the ruins of named saint's birthplace

Opening times
A group called Verona Minor Hierusalem seem to have taken over the touristic visit times for five churches near this one, with this church being used as their HQ. (My friendly enquiring email was ignored.) It is advertised as open Thursday to Sunday 9.30 - 6.00.


San Silvestro

The original church here was built in the mid-12th century in Romanesque style, with a nave and two aisles. The church and monastery passed to the Benedictines in 1523. Rebuilding between 1540 and 1557 and again in the 1720s, by Lodovico Perini. This last rebuilding formed the interior which has survived, with a single nave.

The church and attached Benedictine monastery were suppressed on July 28, 1806, and set for demolition and/or use as a military warehouse. Knocked about by later restorations and bombing, the church is now  deconsecrated, was used for art exhibitions for a while, but is now a bank.

Lost art
The Virgin of the Cherubim (1487) (see below) by Antonio Badile II and a 15th century Crucifix with Saints Peter and Paul, both in the Castelvecchio.





San Tomaso Cantuariense
San Tomaso Becket

The present church was built in the 15th century by Carmelites to replace two earlier churches, one dedicated to Saint Thomas Becket (consecrated May 22 1316), the other to the Annunciation (consecrated in 1351). This new church was itself consecrated on September 22nd 1504. At this time the altar was also rebuilt. It is said to have housed not only the relics of Veronese saints like St. Ursula, St. Martin and St. Benigno but also the skull of St. Thomas Becket (or three teeth and the frontal bone as is elsewhere claimed). The church also contains the tomb of Giovan Battista Beket Fabriano, who claimed kinship with the saint.
The chancel is all that was achieved of a reworking of the interior to designs by Michele Sammicheli (1545-1550). He died before the work could be completed and is buried here. A set of his drawings for a later phase mysteriously disappeared too.
At a mass on the Wednesday after Easter in 1572 most of the wall to the right of the high altar collapsed, killing thirteen and wounding many more.
The was rebuilding and reconsecration in 1679.  In 1708 lightning struck the 15th century campanile which was swiftly rebuilt. In 1796 the church turned into French military hospital by Napoleonic soldiers In 8 June 1805 Napoleon evicted the Carmelites who took refuge in various Venetian monasteries. The convent was used as a barracks and then a military court with prison cells. When the French left the church was reopened for worship after renovation work and the repair of the damage done by the soldiers. The church returned to parish use in 1836 but in 1859 the complex was again deconsecrated and used as a military warehouse for straw and fodder vary, until 1867 when the church was again reopened for worship. Damaged during the flood of 1882 - markers on the wall in the now-enclosed cloister corridor shows the levels reached.

The fašade remains incomplete. The doorway was transferred here from the church of Santa Maria Mater Domini in Valdonega.

A tall aisleless nave with a wooden ceiling painted with trompe l'oeil coffering. Four shallow unmatching chapels each side. The triumphal arch in front of the almost-transept has the Four Evangelists in the dome. Sammicheli's shallow undecorated apse is flanked by two chapels.
Along the left wall the first and third altars have works by Paolo Farinati, both depicting the Virgin and Child in Glory with Saints - Antonio and Onofrio (1569) in the first, Alberto and Jerome unframed in the third. Between them Saints Peter, John the Baptist and Paul by Torbido (Francesco Moro). The Bonatti organ of 1716 (at the ends of the almost-transept arms) is known to have been played by the 13 year old Mozart, on the 27th of December 1769.
In the apse The Virgin in Glory with St Anne, with Saints John the Baptist, Cyril, Thomas Becket and Alberto below of 1579 by Felice Brusasorci (see left).

The chapel to the right has a painted wooden crucifix of the 14th century brought here from the suppressed church of Santa Maria della Disciplina (now the Vittoria cinema). The chapel to the left has, in the lunette above the altarpiece,  a damaged painting of The Eternal Father by Antonio Balestra.
The right wall's second altar (after the tomb of Michele Sanmicheli) has the striking Ecstasy of Mary Magdalene by Alessandro Turchi (Orbetto) of 1604, the third altar has a pretty baroque Annunciation by Ballestra, recently conserved for an exhibition devoted to the artist at the Castelvecchio in 2016/17 to celebrate his 350th. In the the fourth, dedicated to San Rocco, is the highlight Saints Rocco, Sebastian and Job (all looking very classical and muscular) probably painted at the time of the plague of 1510, by Girolamo dai Libri.
All the altars are nicely lit.

Through a door in the right aisle is a now-enclosed cloister with frescoed lunettes (see right), by Bernardino Muttoni, the impressive wall tomb of the Grifalconi family and a small sacristy chapel.

Lost art
A tomb of the Zanchi family is in the Castelvecchio, as is a Descent from the Cross by Liberale da Verona, a panel from a larger altarpiece.

Opening times
8.00-12.00, 4.00-7.00

Luca Fabri Chiesa di San Tomaso Cantuariense Verona 2008
For sale in the church.



San Tomio


Said to have been built on the site of a Roman temple.

The local guild of cheese makers were patrons. An altarpiece here is said to show San Mammaso, their patron saint, sitting in front of the hut in the forest that he was banished to, surrounded by cheeses, which dairy product he is said to have invented, but I've never been able to find it.

Aisleless, restrained baroque with
what might be called a depressed barrel-vault ceiling. Three chapels on the right, the two on the left have the side entrance between them. The flat-backed apse has a modern fresco on the back wall, behind a complex high altar. The organ loft on the back wall has a  huge canvas above. There are inset painted panels high up nearer the apse, and one lunette shaped in the apse. An excess of confessionals - five - for such a small church.

Lost art
The Circumcision of Christ by Claudio Ridolfi, is now in Castelvecchio. It is said that the subject matter may have been thought appropriate for a church on the edge of Verona's Jewish ghetto.

A polychromed marble sculpture of the Virgin and Child, now in the MET New York.

Opening times
Weekdays 8.00-12.00, 3.30-6.00
Sunday and holidays 9.00-12.00, 3.30-6.00

San Zeno

The first small church was erected nearby in the 4th/5th century by the Ostrogoth king Theodoric, presumably around St Zeno's burial place in the cemetery here which dated from Roman times. A church and Benedictine monastery was then built in the early 9th century, with consecration in 806 and soon after the translation of the saint's relics into the new church. After being severely damaged by the Magyar invasion of 951, a new Romanesque church was built by Bishop Raterius in 967, with financial help from the Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I. This church was damaged on January 3rd 1117 by the earthquake which so affected so many of Verona's churches, and was rebuilt bigger in 1123-1138, this being the almost-unchanged church we see today. The roof and the Gothic-style apse date from 1398.

The cream-coloured facade  is the work of sculptor/architect Brioloto with help from sculptor Adamino da San Giorgio, who seems to have especially enjoyed carving animals, which he did below the slanting roof cornices. It is a screen fašade with a Lombard porch and a wall passage. The rose window in the shape of a Wheel of Fortune is 13th century. The outer grey rim of the window is decorated with six figures representing the trials of human life.
The porch and reliefs date to around 1138 and are the work of the sculptor Niccol˛ (along with his assistant Guglielmo) - his signature is visible in several places. He also worked on the porches of the duomos in Ferrara and Verona, the latter his last known work. St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist flank the arch with the Lamb and the blessing hand of God in the centre. The polychrome lunette above the door  shows St. Zeno stamping on demons and blessing the city's banners. Under the lunette are reliefs of the Miracles of St. Zeno and around is the cycle of the months. The door is flanked by panels of marble reliefs showing scenes from the New Testament on the left (signed by the assistant Guglielmo) and the Old Testament on the right
To the left of the fašade is the squat crenellated tower of the old abbey, which was mentioned by Dante in the Canto 18 of Purgatory and which contains 13th century frescoes. Between it and the church is the entrance to the church via the early 14th Cloister. A small loggia (see photo right)  protrudes on the cloister's north side which once housed a fountain for washing before entering the refectory (the lavatory of the monks, as one guidebook has it). Some of the tombs here have come from suppressed churches. They include Giuseppe della Scala and Ubertino della Scala, who was the prior of the adjoining monastery.

Latin cross shaped with striped walls created by layers of brick and stone. The nave is undecorated otherwise, up to the coffered ship's-keel wooden ceiling from the 14th century.  The aisle walls have considerable frescoes though, from various periods. Between the nave and aisles are alternating compound piers and columns. There are three levels with a wide staircase down to a large crypt and two smaller ones up to the raised presbytery.
The bronze doors can be admired in the doorway. The panels on the left door arguably date from the 12th century, are described as 'German school, and depict scenes from the New Testament. Those on the right are later and by a local artist, and depict scenes from the Old Testament. Thirteen steps lead down from the door.
Inside the church in the corner to the right of the doors is a Crucifix by Lorenzo Veneziano, and an octagonal baptismal font from the 13th century.
The first (Renaissance) altar on the right has an altarpiece (1520) by Francesco Torbido depicting the Virgin and Child and Saint Anne with Saints Zeno, James, Sebastian and Christopher. The surrounding fresco work is attributed to Battista del Moro.
On the wall just beyond is a patch of frescoes from the 13th to 15th Centuries, including a large 14th century St Christopher. On the pilaster is the very faint so-called White Madonna, described as 'school of Giotto'. The next altar has odd knotted-effect marble columns retrieved from a Romanesque porch demolished in the 13th century holding up a wood tympanum.
Behind it and up the stairs into the upper church are more frescos of various periods, dominated on the right by a Saint George and the Dragon above The Transportation of St Zeno's Relics. The frescos to the left of Saint George, showing The Baptism of Christ and The Raising of Lazarus are amongst the oldest here. Many are embellished with period graffiti which evidently refer to events in the 15th and 16th centuries like floods earthquakes and plagues.  The Saint George and one of the many depictions of the Virgin Enthroned nearby are given to the so-called Second San Zeno Master.

In the apse (see photos above right and above) built by Giovanni and Nicol˛ da Ferrara from 1386 to 1398, the high altar rests on the sarcophagus of Veronese bishops Lupicino and Lucillo and the hermit Crescenzano. The frescoes are by Martino da Verona, as is The Annunciation on the arch around the apse.
The altarpiece is by Andrea Mantegna (1457-9), known as the San Zeno Altarpiece (see above). It was commissioned by the Venetian humanist Abbot Gregorio Correr. It was painted in Padua, and probably delivered to Verona in late 1459. Foremost among its innovations is how the main register takes the form of triptych but has a unified space, divided by framing columns which echo the architecture in the painting. The classical frame was also, probably, designed by Mantegna. The main panels show The Virgin and Child Enthroned, with Saints Peter, Paul, John the Evangelist and Augustine on the left and Saints John the Baptist, Zeno, Lawrence and Benedict on the right. The opening up of the window in the right wall of the apse was reportedly demanded by Mantegna to match the direction of the lighting in the picture.
The altarpiece has had a hectic life. It was looted by Napoleon in 1797 and returned in 1815, but the predella panels, showing scenes from the Passion of Christ, were never returned. In their place here are good early-19th-century copies by Paolino Caliari which were substituted for the missing panels when the altarpiece was reinstalled in San Zeno in 1871. In 1915 it was decided that it needed to be dismantled and shipped to Florence to protect it from war damage. At the end of the war it was transferred to the Castelvecchio and then to the Brera for restoration, returning to San Zeno in 1927. In 1973 the left panel was stolen and returned following payment of a ransom of 8 million lire. Long only visible from afar, the altarpiece was happily appreciable from right close up, behind the altar, when I visited in 2017.
In the chapel to the left of the apse is the locally-venerated 13th century polychrome statue of the Smiling San Zeno. Zeno, an African, was bishop of Verona in the 4th century and was martyred under Julian the Apostate on April 12th 380. Julian it was who tried (in vain) to reinstate paganism as the state religion, attempting to reverse the work of his uncle Constantine. Zeno's right hand, used for blessing, is larger than his left, which holds a crosier from which a fish is hanging, as he liked to fish. San Zeno in Oratorio, a small church nearby, has one of the stones upon which he liked to sit and fish on the banks of the Adige. The river features prominently in all of his miracles, like when he cast a demon out of an ox which was about to drag a man and his cart into the river.
On the left wall, over the sacristy door, is a large Crucifixion fresco which has been attributed to Altichiero (see photo right) but is now labelled as 'School of'. To its left is another large patch of frescoes from various times, including Abbott Cappelli and his Monks venerating the Virgin, which is School of Altichiero.
Back in the lower church, the left aisle has a 2nd century porphyry basin and, just before the side door, a fresco fragment of The Last Supper with strange symbolic scorpions on the table. The 1621 Baroque altar just before the stairs came from the church of San Procolo next door.
The crypt dates from the 10th century but was reworked in the late 12th/early 13th. Since 921 it has housed the remains of St. Zeno in the apse here, along with those of Saints Cosmas and Damien, Procolo and other bishops. The crypt has a nave with 8 aisles and 49 columns, each with a differently carved capital, with the huge bases of the piers holding up the upper church too. On the entrance arches are animals by the local sculptor Adamino da San Giorgio. To the right is a marble font made by the same sculptor architect Brioloto responsible for the rose window in the shape of a Wheel of Fortune. The balustrade above has 13th century statues of Christ and The Apostles which are German and were originally polychromed. This balustrade was built in 1870 when the central Baroque staircase was removed.

Lost art
A pair of 15th century organ doors by an anonymous master, showing the Annunciate Angel and San Zeno on one door and the Annunciate Virgin and Saint Benedict on the other, have been in the Castelvecchio since 1868. The Annunciation takes place in a gallery above the two saints in niches.
The three predella panels from Mantegna's San Zeno Altarpiece, which was looted by Napoleon in 1797, were kept when the main panels was returned in 1815. They are now in the Louvre (The Crucifixion) and Tours (The Agony in the Garden and The Resurrection). The central Crucifixion panel is wonderful to see well-lit and up close in the Louvre, though.

Hippolyte Taine wrote (in Italy: Florence and Venice 1869)
Some portions, as, for instance, the sculptures of a door, belong to the more ancient times; except at Pisa I have seen none so barbarous. The Christ at the pillar looks like a bear mounting a tree; the judges, the executioners and the personages belonging to other biblical stories resemble the gross caricatures of clumsy Germans in their overcoats ... To this low level did art fall during the Carlovingian decadence and the Hungarian invasions. In the interior of the church you follow the strange and whimsical gropings of an experimental mind, catching glimpses of daylight now and then from its obscure depths.

Separate. It was begun in 1045, restored in 1120, following the 1117 earthquake, and completed in 1173. The upper rows of windows (and presumably the spire too) are later additions.

Opening times
Monday-Saturday 8.30 ş 18.00
Sunday and holidays: 13.00-18.00
(November-February the closing time is 17.00 and the church closes 13.00 - 13.30)

San Procolo
Adjacent to the basilica and housing the remains of San Procolo (260-301), the fourth bishop of Verona. It's said to have been Verona's first church, built on a burial ground, and to date from the 3rd century. Its first documented reference is for 845. Rebuilt following destruction during the Magyar (Hungarian) invasion of 951 and after the 1117 earthquake. It has frescoes from various periods, including a Last Supper and San Biagio healing the Sick by Giorgio Anselmi.  Also works by Antonio Badile and Giambettino Cignaroli (Helena adoring the cross of 1741) It has a single nave with a crypt, which is all that remains of the original Palaeo-Christian structure. Here in 1492 were found the relics of Saints Procolo, Agapito, Euprepio and Cricino.



San Zeno in Oratorio
San Zenetto


Built in what was a Roman cemetery area, this church was probably built over a mausoleum - the source of two Roman panels decorated with a Satyr and Cupids, used in the construction and now preserved at the Malkiano Lapidary Museum. The apse has a 1st century AD curved relief inserted upside down in the outside wall. Tradition says that the body of Saint Zeno was first kept in a church outside the Roman city walls. It is unlikely that San Zeno in Oratory was this church, though, since it was prone to flooding due to its proximity to the Adige and would not have been considered safe. There are references to an early medieval church, though, dedicated to San Zeno. Saint Gregory the Great, in his Dialogues, mentions a terrible flood when the water rose to the base of the church windows whilst Zeno was preaching, but miraculously spared the congregation inside (see full quote below).
The first single-nave church was probably built in the Romanesque period and then enlarged to a double nave during the 1300s. In the medieval period it was dedicated to San Zeno Orador
(Preacher) and kept this name until the late 16th century. The Romanesque structure recognisable in the raised apse-end and arch, with the nave dating from the 1300s. 18th century statues of Saints Zeno and Peter Martyr by Francesco Zorzi are perched on the front wall of the churchyard.

Romanesque with a gothic facade. Proportionally wide with three pinkish columns separating each aisle from the nave. A timber roof and pale buff stone walls with exposed brick arches. There are two shallow decorated chapels in the left aisle, one built for a cloth merchant called Melchiorre Bassani in 1482. The apse has traces of a 12th century fresco depicting a crowned woman richly dressed, and a gothic tabernacle in carved relief. The transept chapels shallowly domed with a deep decorated dome in the crossing. Many polychrome statues, including two of Saint Zeno (not looking very African in either) attributed to a sculptor close to the Master of Santa Anastasia (early 14th century) and, at the back, the stone on which the saint used to sit and fish in the Adige river nearby, sitting on a 1st century Roman funeral altar with a niche showing busts of a husband and wife.  The pulpit has an Annunciation, also attributed to the Master of Santa Anastasia. A Crucifixion frescoed on the back wall was recently restored and has been tentatively attributed to Boninsegna da Clocego.

Quote came to the very church of the holy martyr* and Bishop Zeno ; and though the church doors were open, yet did it not enter in. At last it grew so high, that it came to the church windows, not far from the very roof itself, and the water standing in that manner, did close up the entrance into the church, yet without running in : as though that thin and liquid element had been turned into a sound wall. And it fell so out, that many at that time were surprised in the church, who not finding any way how to escape out, and fearing lest they might perish for want of meat and drink, at length they came to the church door, and took of the water to quench their thirst, which, as I said, came up to the windows, and yet entered not in; and so for their necessity they took water, which yet, according to the nature of water, ran not in: and in that manner it stood there before the door, being water to them for their comfort, and yet not water to invade the place.
Saint Gregory the Great, from The Dialogues
*Zeno's martyrdom is not elsewhere recorded.

Opening times
9.30 - 11.30am Daily
4.00-6.00pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday

La Chiesa di San Zeno in Oratorio - Guida Storico-Artistica by Luciano Rognini, is a booklet available in the church, in Italian.



click here for page 2


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