Posted by: Brad Nixon | September 14, 2016

Put Winged Dogs on My Tomb, Verona

Seriously. Have you considered a winged dog for your eternal memorial? If so, you have good company. Like this.


Who had this idea? Why, the Big Dog, naturally.

I know what you’re thinking. Blaknissan has traveled far, walked many a lonely path, and perhaps he needs a break. Visit Verona, though, and among the other wonders you’ll find are the famous winged dogs of the Scaligeri.

In 14th-Century Verona, Cangrande I (“Big Dog”) was the head of the ruling della Scala family, also referred to as the Scaligeri. He ruled Verona beginning in 1311, also taking control of Vicenza, Padua and Treviso, and was Dante’s primary patron. Big Dog, indeed.

Here’s his palace, Palazzo Cangrande, in the Piazza dei Signori in Verona.


Yes, that’s a statue of Dante looking with gratitude at his patron’s pad.

His given name was Can Francesco, but from an early age he demonstrated enormous physical and mental prowess, becoming a fierce warrior and highly admired leader, known for his honorable conduct and fervent religiosity. He thus became known as Cangrande and appears in Boccaccio’s Decameron as — what else? — a wise, noble ruler (probably influenced by Dante’s own positive view of Cangrande).

He was, in fact, such a big dog that the Scaligeri took dogs as their emblem, and dogs adorned their flags, helmets and monuments.

In addition, dogs (with wings!) became features on Scaligeri memorials.


Cangrande died in 1329, succeeded by his son, Mastino (the Mastiff). They and others of the clan were entombed in the church of Santa Maria Antica, and memorialized in masterpieces of gothic design which stand in the area adjacent to the church. Many of the baldachins sport impressive stonework and equestrian monuments.


For my money, I’ll take winged dogs riding horses, any day.


Verona is replete with many days’ worth of fascinating sights, only a few of which I’ve written about previously, including the spectacular operas staged in the ancient Roman colosseum, CLICK HERE, and the equally impressive Roman amphitheater, still used for performances, CLICK HERE.

Not far from the resting place of the Scaligeri is the long, lively Piazza delle Erbe, often overlooked in lists of of Italy’s outstanding public spaces.

Verona Piazza della Erbe Brad Nixon 6434 (640x480)

Take my advice. Skip the crowds shouldering one another aside to see the balcony at Casa Giulietta (it’s not really Juliet’s House, it’s a tourist thing) and scour Verona for the endless other things there are to see. I’d rather see a winged dog, any day.


Good night, sweet prince, and choirs of dogs … um … bark thee to thy rest.


© Brad Nixon 2016, 2017


  1. What a surprise it was to turn a corner while strolling through Verona, look up and see these amazing creatures! “What ho?!” as Bertie Wooster might say.


  2. I’ll take a winged pig on my grave, please (with a moustache, for the artistic touch!) 😸


    • Hmmm … you can at least run in the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati!


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