Piazza delle Erbe, Verona
Named after the herbs once sold here, this is Verona’s busiest and most beautiful square, the center of the historic city, and marred only by the tourist tat vendors who have now largely replaced the traditional fruit and vegetable stalls. However, if you’re feeling peckish you can still find vendors selling rolls stuffed with delicious suckling pig for a snack on the hoof. At one end of the piazza, tinged pink by the local limestone and surmounted by statues of immortals, the Baroque Palazzo Maffei (1668) is home to the eponymous smart restaurant (one of many great hostelries in the square). Adjacent is the Torre del Gardello, built in 1370; in front the Colonna di San Marco is topped with the Lion of St Mark, symbol of Venice and built in 1523 to represent Verona becoming part of the Venetian Empire. In the center of the square the Fontana Madonna Verona is a hybrid of Roman remains erected in 1368, a reminder that the piazza was once Verona’s Roman forum, the focal point of commerce. On the eastern side the Casa Mazzanti is decorated with frescoes, best seen at night when spotlit.