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Sunday 4 December 2016, San Giovanni Damasceno
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Castelvecchio

Historical Notes. Following the revolt headed by his half-brother Fregnano, Cangrande II no longer felt safe inside the city: on top of the surrounding city walls, he had a castle and a bridge over the Adige River built. The new dwelling was to be a palace, fortress and a guarantee of escape. The construction of the castle, entrusted to Guglielmo Bevilacqua, began around 1354. Cangrande lived there for only a little while, because on 14 December 1359, he was betrayed and killed by several assassins, paid by his brother Cansignorio, who took over dominion of Verona. With the fall of the Scala family, the castle was transformed from a royal palace into an urban fortress, and such was its destiny, both during the Visconti occupation and during the four centuries of domination by the Serenissima Republic. It began to be used as a museum between 1920-1930.

Architecture and Art. The castle appears as a single unit, but it is a complex made up of three distinct walled perimeters. In the great courtyard, from which access is gained to the museum today, there was a garrison; the wide space served as a training ground for the soldiers, and it was closed on three sides by the turreted wall. The first tower was called the Clock Tower; at this tower, the church of San Martino in Aquaro had been conserved. The second tower pertained to the drawbridge and postern, the third protected the corner and the fourth protected the wall towards the river. The so-called royal palace, namely the residence of the della Scala family, was developed on two floors of the building.

The bridge. The bridge rises along a tract of the Adige River where the riverbed is about 120 m wide. Because of the natural grade of the riverbed, it does not deposit or excavate material. The bridge is a masterpiece of engineering, absolutely one of the best examples that can be cited for the thirteenth century. It has three arched spans; the overall length of the bridge is 119,90 m. The base of the piles and arched lintels are made of local stone; the rest of the bridge is in brick. The bridge was minded by the retreating Germans and blown up on the evening of 24 April 1945, as was the Stone Bridge. In 1951, the bridge was inaugurated, at the end of a delicate and exemplary reconstruction entirely in conformity with the original.

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Guides: Firenze, Roma, Venezia, Verona.