Castel San Pietro

The Castle that dominates Verona. One of Verona’s most magical and romantic places, the Austrian edifice can be reached by a zigzag path of steppingstones

The Castle that dominates Verona. Built on the hill of the city bearing the same name, on a leveled area where the Romans built a temple in connection with the Teatro Romano, Castel San Pietro represents a magnificent belvedere, offering a breathtaking  view over the center of Verona, where one sees how the Adige River embraces the town. However, in the old days this was an area of primary strategic importance. It was on these eternally inhabited hills that the cit of Verona was actually born.

Indeed, archaeological finds have been made of preRoman settlements,  dating back to the Iron Age, which leads to the hypothesis that this was a castelliere. During Roman times, already at the beginning of the first century B.C., there was the Arx, a sacred and fortified place guarding the passage of the Adige River, overlooking via Postumia and the Oppidum, situated at the foot of the hill. And later it guarded the city which developed  on the other side of the river. Scholars maintain that the church dedicated to San Pietro, which existed and was restored during the eighth century, was built on the foundation of a pre-existing Roman temple. The construction of a castrum is attributed to Berengarius, in 890, which was completely dismantled and replaced by reconstruction work in 1393 commissioned by Gian Galeazzo Visconti.

After that, in 1450, the castle was integrated into the medieval walls. In the year 1801, the French destroyed most of the castle and its internal buildings, including the church and the fortress, whose ruins can still be found within the enclosure walls. Some remains of the Visconti castle and of the medieval walls are still visible. The demolition was completed by the Austrians  who, between  1852 and 1858, built fortified  military barracks  on the grounds. Today the castle is in very bad condition, which does not do it justice. Never- theless, it is one of the most precious spots for lovers, and a must for tourists to visit: the terrace before the castle, indeed, offers an invaluable panoramic view over the city, and over the archaeological  area of the Teatro Romano.

We suggest one reach the castle by climbing the charming and characteristic  footpath which starts across from Ponte Pietra: the path allows its visitors, step-by-step, to discover some of Verona’s most beautiful architectural and scenic spots, until the culmination,  a truly five-star, enchanting  view, as far as the eye can reach, over the city, with its monuments,  and beyond.  The complex  comprising  the Visconti castle and the military barracks of San Pietro has been the subject of discussion  and reflection  regarding  a variety  of solutions  for its recuperation, since everyone recognizes its extraordinary meaning in terms of history, symbolic value, and landscape beauty. Most likely it will become a museum, or definitely some form of cultural center, however, for the time being it is still closed, waiting for its renovation to be completed. Recently the verdant area near the castle was cleared and beautified, comprising an area of 7.000 m2. Now it is a place for the people of Verona and tourists to relax and have picnics, and it can be reached by the enchanted path leading up to Castel San Pietro. The panoramic view to be enjoyed from this verdant area covers the bends of the River Adige, including the church of Santo Stefano, the dwellings of Madonna del Terraglio, and the covered defense walkway built by the Venetian Repubblica  Serenissima,  which leads to the “Bacola” rondella and the Visconti walls.