The plains and foothills behind Verona were, in prehistoric times around 50 million years ago, a swamp: myriads of fish, molluscs and invertebrates bathed in its waters, and its coasts hosted lush forests inhabited by prehistoric animals and insects.The hilly Bolca area close to Verona is simply one of the most important fossil sites in the world not only because of the impressive quantity of species there found, but especially for their astonishing level of preservation. A particular fossilization process has in fact preserved, with a surprising standard of detail, specimens of long-extinguished species, or ancestors of present species. Crustaceans, reptiles, insects, bird feathers, plants, and over 150 dazzling fish species from the Tertiary period have been found.
The Bolca findings have fed the astounding collection of Verona’s Natural History Museum, one of the most famous and appreciated worldwide. The selection of over 9.400 specimens includes fossil collections already common in the Veronese society staring from the 1500s, and has been foraged across the centuries by new sites and findings. A particularly precious piece is the ceratoichthys pinnatiformis, popularly know as angelfish, of which the Museum holds 3 wonderful specimens.
The Museum is hosted in the 1500s palace Palazzo Pompei, one of the most important buildings of the city from an historical and architectural point of view. Commissioned between 1530 and 1550 to Michele Sanmicheli, it preserves the unaltered purity of the architectural lines designed and executed by the brilliant architect.