Veronafiere and the Arena Opera Festival: a story going back more than 100 years

100 years for the Arena Opera Festival and 125 for the Verona Exhibition Centre. The Arena festival and Veronafiere are almost the same

The first Wine Expo in 1876 inside Arena

age: two centenarians with long traditions behind them and strong bonds with the shared local area, especially the Arena in the centre of Verona itself. Actually, not many people know that the famous Roman amphitheatre hosted the first event in the history of Veronafiere.

The Arena was home in 1876 to the pavilions of the Wine Fair, the forerunner of the event that almost a century later became Vinitaly. And in 1898, it was the setting for the first full-scale trade fair in Verona specifically for horses, with the Show Jumping Competition and equipment on display inside the amphitheatre itself.

The Equestrian Competition as part of the six-monthly Grand Horse Fair was Veronafiere’s first official event (1898)

It was then the turn of the 3rd Dog Show, approved by the Italian Kennel club held in 1926, continuing a fine tradition for shows involving animals that continued in 1948, when the Maremma “butteri” cowboys paraded inside the Arena riding wild horses. This tradition was resumed in 1968 with the Grand Equestrian Competition, which had not been held since the early years of the century.

The bond between the Verona Exhibition Centre and the Arena has been strengthened in recent times: The Vinitaly Gala was organized inside the Arena to celebrate the wine shows held in 2016 and 2017.

Veronafiere has stood alongside opera performances since 1907, when Zenatello’s Aida was staged in the Philharmonic Theatre at precisely the same time as the long-standing six-monthly Agriculture and Horse Fair.

It was a short step from there to the extraordinary first opera season in 1913 inaugurated with

Vinitaly Gala Dinner in 2017

Aida, and Veronafiere has always been determined to be involved. As a proud partner of the Arena Foundation, Veronafiere is once again supporting the event as a sponsor and hosts rehearsals for the choir and players in the halls of the exhibition centre.