Italy Pic of the Day | Basilica di San Zeno & Papà de ‘Gnocco

Our photographic Verona tour continues this week with another famous Romeo and Juliet location, plus the story behind the Veronese Carnival & Papà de 'Gnocco.

Happy Monday all! Today is the 271st day of 2020, which only leaves 94 days left! Personally I’m looking forward to tossing 2020 around like a curse word. That’s so 2020! Till then, I’ll keep sharing a beautiful image of Italy every Monday – Friday with the hopes of making anyone dreaming of visiting Italy, feel like they are actually here! If only for a brief moment anyway.

Basilica di San Zeno in Verona, Italy

This week, we’re still in Verona, because there is just so much to see! Plus, I simply couldn’t leave Verona without taking you inside one of the most beautiful of the cities 21 churches! That’s right, there are at least 21 churches in Verona!

So what makes this one so special?

Italy Pic of the Day Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore Verona
Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore, Verona

Basilica di San Zeno is famed for a few reasons.

Our visit to Basilica di San Zeno this past August was on a blazing hot day. The intensity of the sun seemed only to be matched by the bright, warmth reflecting off the Basilica’s tufa stones.

For me, what made visiting Basilica di San Zeno special, was standing in Piazza San Zeno. After staring up at the abby tower (left) and the bell tower (right) I started looking around Piazza San Zeno itself. Something just felt different. The square felt less touristy, more lived in. Calm.

Piazza San Zeno, Verona

The square itself gets no rest from the midday sun. Restaurants and shops that line the square however, are protected by a row of tall trees. Trees that provide shade to a line of benches around the square. Benches that provide a respite for the elderly. Many of which were tossing bread crumbs to pigeons.

Seeking shade myself, I ducked under a tree near an elderly woman sitting alone. I smiled and said “buongiorno” not thinking much about. The woman looked up and smiled revealing two teeth. One upper, one lower. Only then did I notice her clothing looked a bit tattered. We waved to each other, each flashing another smile before I headed into the basilica. It was a brief but sweet exchange that I’d come to understand better later.

Veronese Carnival & Papà de ‘Gnocco

Despite a history of being the poorest part of the city the district of San Zeno is a popular part of Verona. The inhabitants of San Zeno are said to be the ones who preserve the true spirit of Verona, almsgiving.

“According to tradition, it was precisely to the poor inhabitants of San Zeno that Tommaso Da Vico, in 1531, donated a legacy in his will to be able to celebrate, at least once a year, with gnocchi, cheese and wine. This is the legendary origin of the Veronese carnival which still takes place today with the parade of allegorical floats led by Papà de ‘Gnocco, an old “king” with a beard and hat who holds an immense fork as a scepter surmounted by a giant dumpling. The procession that parades through the city streets ends right in Piazza San Zeno where gnocchi are still distributed to all present.”

Città di Verona

This is a side of Italy that I love. Taking care of each other. Plus, all things cheese and gnocchi.

Tomorrow, we’ll dip inside the shade of the cloister. Then later this week, I’ll share a Shrek like character that made me laugh when leaving.

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Previous Italy Pic of the Day Posts | Verona, Italy

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