Italy, Verona

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Museo di Castelvecchio

Top choice in Verona

Bristling with fishtail battlements along the river Adige, Castelvecchio was built in the 1350s by Cangrande II. Severely damaged by Napoleon and WWII bombings, the fortress was reinvented by architect Carlo Scarpa, who constructed bridges over exposed foundations, filled gaping holes with glass panels, and balanced a statue of Cangrande I above the courtyard on a concrete gangplank. The complex is now home to a diverse collection of statuary, frescoes, jewellery, medieval artefacts and paintings.

Scarpa's modern reworking of the interior comes as a surprise after the austere medieval exterior and provides a contrasting backdrop for the exhibits. Highlights include some wonderful 14th-century glass, the Pisanello room with its well-preserved frescoes, the collection of Flemish art and works by Renaissance Veronese and Venetian painters. Look out for the Cangrande coat of arms throughout – Cangrande means 'Top Dog' and the family's comedy shield features two dogs climbing a ladder! After viewing the exhibition, clamber out onto the ramparts for views of the river and old city defences.

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