Verona offers more than just its Arena, Castelvecchio and the Roman Theatre. To find that out, you only have to enter one of its public museums. The five listed below may not be the most famous or popular ones, but they are, perhaps, the most original.
Galleria di Arte Moderna (The Gallery of Modern Art)
Most tourists go through here to reach “La Torre dei Lamberti” (the Lamberti Tower) which offers a beautiful view over the city. But, don’t miss a chance to see the Gallery of Modern Art there as you pass through. On display are works given to the city by important private collectors. These works cover a wide range of art right up to the avant-garde movements of the twentieth century. The setting for the museum is as impressive as its contents. The Museum is housed in the “Palazzo della Ragione” (the Palace of Reason) which was the city court from the Middle Ages up until the 1980s. The restoration of building, completed in 2007, was done in a way that gives visitors a strong impression of the building’s history. From its windows, you have some of the most beautiful views of Verona looking out onto Piazza Erbe and the courtyard of the old market.
Centro Internazionale di Fotografia (International Centre for Photography)
This exhibition space is located in the “Scavi Scaligeri” (the Scaligeri archeological excavation site) in the heart of Verona. It’s a worthwhile visit even in moments when there is no exhibition on display. It’s located in an underground area which forms part of an important medieval age complex. This complex, in turn, sits on the archaeological remains of an ancient Roman villa with beautiful mosaics. Excellent photography exhibitions are mounted in this unique setting. A few years ago, for example, we saw an exhibition of photographs by Robert Capa covering the entire history of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, the Centre will be closed until 15 May 2016 for modifications. (Be sure to note that date on your calendar.)
Museo degli Affreschi (The Fresco Museum)
Frescoes usually decorate the walls of the palaces or churches they were commissioned for. For several centuries between the 700s and 900s, frescoes were, in fact, often “torn off” or taken away from the places they were painted in order to display them elsewhere. This museum takes advantage of this fact and recently reopened with a new exhibition space for fresco art. One notable collection in the museum is that dedicated to the 18th century art historian Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle. This collection is in the same building with the frescoes from Juliet’s tomb. The frescoes in the museum come from two main historical periods: the Middle Ages and Renaissance. One spectacularly scenic work is the series of equestrian frescoes linked to Charles V and Clement VII.
Museo di Storia Naturale (Museum of Natural History)
This is an traditional style museum located in an historic building opposite the Adige River. Its exhibits are shown on large wooden display boards. Its corridors are a bit dark and the walls show the yellowed mark of time. At the moment, it is scheduled to be moved to a more modern facility. But, its current traditional exhibition space and 18th century style still has a certain charm. The real gem to be found in this museum is the fossil collection. The fossils come mainly from the “pesciara” or ‘fish kettle’ of Bolca. This area, located in the hills east of Verona, is one of the largest Tertiary Era fossil deposits in the world. The variety of fish reflected in the collection is impressive in terms of their quantity and the condition of the fossils. From a scenic point of view, though, the fossilized trees and plants (some more than three metres tall) are also amazing. They create an incomparable petrified forest of a sort. The large wildlife section with its taxidermy animals is a favourite with children of all ages.
Museo Nicolis (Nicolis Museum)
This is in Villafranca, a town approximately ten kilometers south of Verona, and is close to Catullo Airport. Despite not being a big automobile fan, I’ve always been fascinated by this museum. It was created by the industrialist Luciano Nicolis who was an aficionado of classic autos and motorcycles. The exhibit does justice to his incredible collection which included the earliest models made by Fiat, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Isotta Fraschini. There are some nuggets in the museum that are alone worth the price of admission. For example, the gasoline-run tricycle built in 1885 by automobile pioneer Karl Benz. There is also a DeLorean Dmc 12 better known as the “time machine” in the “Back To the Future” series by Robert Zemeckis.