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Wonders of Italy: The Verona Arena
One of the most fascinating monuments of ancient Roman times, the Arena di Verona is a large amphitheater located in the historic center of Verona, a true icon of this Veneto city along with the figures of Romeo and Juliet.
Typical of Roman architecture, the Arena di Verona has been exceptionally well preserved, thanks also to the regular restorations carried out since the 16th century. It is the third largest Roman amphitheater in Italy, after the Colosseum in Rome and the Capua Amphitheater near Naples.
The lack of written sources about the inauguration of the amphitheater makes it difficult to date it precisely, although it is thought that it was built in the first century, under emperor Augustus.
When it was built, it stood just outside the walls of the ancient city, to facilitate the flow of spectators and prevent overcrowding in the urban center. Later, it was incorporated within the walls built by Roman emperor Gallienus to defend the city from Barbarian attacks.
Like the Colosseum, the Arena was used for entertainment shows, including gladiator fights. These took place in the center of the amphitheater, in the area called harena (hence the name Arena), where there was sand, which was used to absorb blood (of men and animals). These gory spectacles were highly appreciated by the ancient Romans.
Over the centuries, the Arena has been used for the most diverse reasons: as a stone quarry for the construction of houses nearby; for the administration of justice, including stakes; for shows, parties and races; it was even said that at some point, prostitutes were relegated there, later driven out and replaced by craft shops.
The amphitheater originally had a capacity of 30,000 spectators; nowadays, it contains about half of that, for scenic and safety purposes.
The first opera to be performed at the Arena di Verona was Giuseppe Verdi's Aida, in 1913, one of the most grandiose international shows of the 20th century, attended by people from all over Italy and Europe.
Since then, every summer, the Arena has been home to the Arena Opera Festival, which has an attendance of 600,000 spectators over 50 evenings with five or six alternating productions.
Tra i monumenti più affascinanti della romanità antica, l'Arena di Verona è un grande anfiteatro situato nel centro storico di Verona, vera icona di questa città veneta insieme alle figure di Romeo e Giulietta
Tipica dell'architettura romana, l'Arena di Verona si è eccezionalmente ben conservata, grazie anche ai regolari restauri effettuati a partire dal XVI° secolo. È il terzo anfiteatro romano più grande d'Italia, dopo il Colosseo a Roma e l'Anfiteatro di Capua vicino a Napoli.