Friday, October 21, 2011

The Man who Occupied Ponte Scaligero

Peaceful sights greet the visitor to Verona, Italy who arrives via the bridge, Ponte Scaligero.  Yet even a cursory history of the area reveals a story worthy of investigation.  

It is said the Cangrande II della Scalla ordered the construction of this bridge in the mid-1300s to provide an escape passage from Verona to Tyrol to protect himself not from external forces but from popular riots.  Nicknamed "Rabid Dog,"  he had ruled Verona harshly, amassing vast riches for himself and his sons while impoverishing the city's citizens.  Hmmm.

Destroyed during WW II and rebuilt by 1951 from pieces salvaged in the river, this is one of the most unusual bridges I've ever seen.  Long thought to have been killed by his brother, Cangrande II's body was exhumed in 2004 and an autopsy revealed he died from massive digitalis poisoning. 

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