Piazza dei Signori is one of the three major squares in the historical heart of the city of Verona. It is situated close by the Piazza delle Erbe and coming from here you will pass under the Arco della Costa, with its large whale rib, from which the arch takes its name. The Piazza has been the site of administrative and political representation since the Middle Ages. Where the Piazza delle Erbe has been a bustling busy market square since Roman times, the Piazza dei Signori is distinguished and elegant and has an air of peace and harmony about it, which has earned it the nickname the ‘drawing room’ of Verona. The square is framed by many monumental buildings of great historic and artistic importance which are linked together by arcades and loggias.
City Hall or Palazzo Commune – On the northern side is the Palazzo Comune or City Hall, a vast complex with a large central courtyard and large staircase, built in the late 12th century and the Torre dei Lamberti, reaching 83 meters high and is the highest tower in Verona.
Loggia del Consiglio – This is the finest Renaissance building in Verona. Commissioned by the city of Verona and built between 1476 – 1493 for the meetings of the Patrician Council, the building is crowned with statues representing Catullus, Pliny, Marcus, Vitruvius and Cornelius Nepos.
Palazzo di Cansignorio – To the side of the Palazzo del Comune (City Hall) stands the Palazzo di Cansignorio which was the seat of the Scaliger and Venetian political power. The medieval tower is the only part of the building that remains from the original construction. The facade dates from the sixteen hundreds, designed and built by Sanmicheli in addition to the famous Porta dei Bombardieri, 1687.
Chiesa di Santa Maria Antica – Next to the Palazzo di Cansignorio is the Romanesque church of Santa Maria Antica which was the family church of the Scaligers. At the front of this lovely little church is the enclosed cemetery containing the Scaliger tombs, at the entrance is the ornate tomb of Cangrande I della Scala. On the wrought iron gate are the symbols of Verona and of the Scaliger family.
Palazzo del Podesta – Built by the Scaliger family, and situated near the Church of Santa Maria Antica, is the Palazzo del Podesta which bears the typical Ghibelline battlements. In 1404 the Venetians opened a new portal which bears the Lion of St Mark, the symbol of Venice.
The Monument to Dante – In 1865, 600 years after the birth of Dante, it was decided to commission a statute to be placed in the Piazza dei Signori. The three metrer high statue was made of white Carrara marble supported by a pedestal and has its back to the Via delle Fogge and has its head turned slightly towards the left and the Palazzo Scaligeri. The statue of the poet was unveiled on 14th May 1865. The solemn monument of Dante Aligheri now stands in the centre of the square affectionately known to the Veronese as ‘Piazza Dante’.
Antico CaffèDante – The famous Caffè Dante is the only one in Verona where the 19th century interior is still intact. Founded in 1837 the caffè soon became a meeting point of the upper classes who came here to discuss political and cultural issues.
Recently the Piazza has become a meeting place for young people and college students who come here to meet up and socialize every Wednesday night. It has become ‘the place’ to be seen with guitar music, dancing and ‘mock battles’.
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