How old is it?

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August 2017

old middle age element inside a building

The façade of this building was built in late 1700s. In the underneth structure there are still elements from the middle age original building that have been found and left visible during the restauration, like this portion of an arch.

F irst of all it depends on what, of a specific building, we are taking into consideration: we want to know when, in a particular place of the city, was the first construction of a building, i.e. its foundation? Are we considering the current main structure of the building? Or the façades? Depending on what we consider the answer may vary a lot. In many ancient European cities, and in Verona in particular, the urban plan has been made in Roman age, remaining substantially unchanged until today. This means that there have been buildings along the roads that we are still treading in our walking tours at least for the last twenty-one centuries. In fact it is not unusual to find in the historic center of Verona a house that in its foundations incorporates elements of Roman structures. At the end of the centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire, in which Roman houses and public buildings were consistently damaged or destroyed by wars, fires and abandonment, the inhabitants of Verona progressively began to build over the remains of ancient monuments and rubble which had accumulated over the years. In the Middle Ages bricks were expensive and difficult to make, so that whenever it could save time, energy and money, people tried as much as they could to recycle what remained of ancient Roman buildings.

roman walls in Verona

Emeror Gallienus, in 265 a.D. restored the defensive wall of Verona under threat of barbaric invasions.. Centuries later the remains of the wall were "recycled" to build houses on top.

Starting from the foundations that still stand on the Roman city plan and sometimes incorporate architectural elements, the main structure of many of buildings in the historic center of Verona was built between 1100 and 1300, the era of a first great economic and architectural revival of the city. Today historic buildings are protected by very strict rules regarding the preservation of historic and artistic heritage, but in the past it was easier for building owners to make reconstructions and alterations as they wished. For this reason, the exterior appearance of many historic buildings can be much newer than the underlying structure. Façades can be the original ones from 1200s or 1300s or remakes of the '600s,' 700s or '800s. This means that a building in the historic center of Verona is often a patchwork of different ages and styles. Today, the appearance of the historic centers of Italian cities is totally bound by laws and regulations that preserve their beauty. This includes colors, materials, and conservation techniques that must be used during restorations. If, during a refurbishment of a historic building emerge older parts under the most recent surface, these are not only preserved but are often left visible and emphasized. Old houses become a sort of history book where you can read the various changes that have occured throughout the ages. This also contributes to the extraordinary beauty and complexity of a city such as Verona, highly representative of the rich historic and artistic past of our country.


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