Gavi Arch

The Arco dei Gavi well-known as the Gavi Arch is an ancient monument in Verona, northern Italy. It was initially built at the Via Postumia the Roman road leading to the city by the Gens Gavia, a noble Roman family who had their hometown in Verona.

During the Middle Ages, it was used as a gate in the walls. It was built to honor several members of the famous Gens Gavia family that is believed to have been of Veronese origin in the first century A.D. because of a sign engraved in its stone for centuries. The sign also marked the new expansion of Verona outside the city walls in the early 1st century A.D. The Gavi arch was demolished during Napoleonic rule and what we see today is a beautiful reconstruction using some of the original stone. It is situated close to the Museo di Castelvecchio, and it is worth taking a photo or merely admiring its architecture.

The site of Gavi Arch was chosen carefully, section of the road with the best passage, the Postumia, which is at the margins of the flat terrain where the city could develop and advance. The exact location where the Arch was constructed is marked by a grey marble rectangle that is visible from the highway. During medieval era the arch became a city gate which included the Clock Tower of Castelvecchio and the Scala walls.

The complete base of the archway is under the level of the road, except for a corner that is visible from the castle channel. The Gavi Arch was and is still a significant Roman monument of Verona that was widely studied and admired during the Renaissance. In 1805, the French Military Engineers declared its demolition, as it was considered as a hindrance to local traffic and to improve the transit ability of the course of military mule trains the original Gavi arch was destroyed. The Arch stones lay for decades piled at Citadella Square and later under the Arena arches. Finally, in 1932 the Arch was rebuilt, with its original stones, alongside Castelvecchio and facing the Adige, not too far from its initial position.

The archway is exclusively constructed of local limestone and white Veronese stone, from the Valpolicella. It is four-fronted, thus allowing the passage across the road Via Postumia and between the two sidewalks. The two main fronts are decorated with four Corynthian semi columns on plinths. The four passages are covered by coffered vaults and bear some inscriptions among which that of the architect Lucio Vitruvio Cerdone, the designer of the arch who in the past was mistakenly believed to be the famous architect of Augustan times.

Other inscriptions honoring the family members of the gens Gavia are located at the bases of the niches facing the passage along the central arch. Thanks to the demolition of the arch in 1805 it was possible to notice, some abbreviations in letters and numbers on the blocks, which are not visible today that had been engraved at the quarry to facilitate the assembly works. This finding is an interesting document on building techniques in Roman times. Under the archways, a piece of the road Via Postumia has been reconstructed. The road is paved in black basalt and still displays the cart's tracks.

Despite its variations, the architecture and art of Gavi Arch is one of the unique constructions, in Verona and a rare type of structure in the history of Roman architecture. Although the arch was often cited in archaeological literature and has been the subject of specific study, its architectural form and dating have continued to fuel lively discussion among scholars.

Created: 09 Aug 2013
Last update: 27 Jun 2023

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