Verona claims to be the city in Italy that has the maximum number of ancient Roman monuments after Rome (I’m guessing that they don’t count towns like Pompeii and Herculaneum in these kind of lists). After a city makes a claim like that, I feel fairly obliged to go take a look and so I engineered a day trip to Verona recently. True to its claims there are quite a few remains from Roman times still in Verona but I have been so spoilt by sites in Jordan, Spain and Tunisia and by Rome herself that I felt that Verona should dial down its claim a little. But that’s just me being me. Ignore me and visit Verona anyway. It’s a great town.
Anyway one of the Roman monuments that still remains fairly intact is the ancient Roman gate now called ‘Porta Borsari’. It used to be called ‘Porta Iovia’ after a temple of Jupiter that used to be located next to it and this doesn’t exist anymore. Borsari was a name attributed to it in the middle ages because of people who collected customs duties.
In ancient times the Porta Iovia was an important place. It was here that one of the main Roman roads – the Via Postumia, running west to east from Genoa to Aquileia and constructed in 148BC (see map) – entered the city. Once it entered the city, the road was called the Decumanus maximus. Now, there were two main roads in any Roman town- one was the Cardo which ran in the north-south direction and then the Decumanus which ran in the east-west direction.
It is estimated that the gate was built in the first century CE on the site of an older gate from the 1st century BCE. An inscription on the Porta Borsari states that it was repaired by Emperor Gallienus in the 3rd century AD.
The Porta Iovia is only one of the two Roman gates in Verona that remains to be seen today- the other being the Porta Leoni.