Extensive meadows and pastures, forests, caves and deep valleys, water-eroded rocks, prehistoric caves and sinkholes, the great plateau of Lessinia
in the Verona area spans over 10,000 hectares protected by Regional Nature Park
since 1990. This impressive environment is enchanting throughout the seasons, but especially during autumn, when the warm sun lights up the fabulous foliage
, and the deep green of the trees gradually turns to yellow, orange, red and finally fades to shades of rust.
The heterogeneous landscapes varies from scenery typical of the Po Valley to that of the Alps, while the low hills are covered by a blanket of olive-groves, vineyards, cherry and chestnut trees. Further up the landscape is characterised by stone and volcanic rocks of sedimentary origin and constitutes great geological, prehistoric and ethnographic heritage. This gem can be explored along the many hiking trails.
One in particular will lead you to a great phenomenon of karst origin which is unique in Europe: the Ponte di Veja,
about twenty-five kilometers from Verona and at an altitude of 600 meters.
This 'stone giant', which joins two hilltops, is exceptionally large:
about 17 meters wide, nearly 10 thick, spanning over 50 meters, and towering about thirty meters over the shore of the below river. This absolutely natural architecture, which man has thankfully not disturbed, is nothing but the entrance lintel of an ancient karst cave
whose inside collapsed in prehistoric times (probably 100,000 years ago). Beneath the ruins of the collapsed cave lie two other karst caves where relics from the Middle and Lower Paleolithic have been found. Legend has it that the bridge inspired Dante's Malebolge (evil ditches) in his Inferno. Likewise, Renaissance artist Mantegna
drew inspiration from the archway for the background of a fresco of the famous Bridal Chamber at the Ducal Palace in Mantua
Legend has it that the bridge was visited by Dante, who here drew inspiration for his description of the Malebolge of his Inferno. And also Mantegna, a Renaissance artist, was inspired by the arch in the invention of the background of a fresco of the famous Camera degli Sposi (Marriage Chamber) of the Palazzo Ducale di Mantova.