The Basilica di San Zeno name rests partly on its architecture and partly upon the tradition that its crypt was the place of the marriage of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. It stands adjacent to a Benedictine abbey, both dedicated to St Zeno of Verona.
St. Zeno died in 380. According to legend, at a site above his tomb along the Via Gallica, the first small church was erected by Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. Erection of the present basilica and associated monastery began in the 9th century, when Bishop Ratoldus and King Pepin of Italy attended the translation of the saint's relics into the new church. This edifice was damaged or destroyed by a Magyar invasion in the early 10th-century, at which time Zeno's body was moved to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Matricolare: on May 21, 921, it was returned to its original site in the crypt of the present church. In 967, a new Romanesque edifice was built by Bishop Raterius, with the patronage of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor.
On January 3, 1117, the church, along with most of the city, was damaged by an earthquake; the church was restored and enlarged in 1138. Work was completed in 1398 with the reconstruction of the roof and of the Gothic-style apse.
Attached to the basilica is an abbey was erected in the 9th century over a pre-existing monastery. Of the original structure, destroyed in the Napoleonic Wars, only a large brick tower and the cloisters survive. It had originally another tower and the abbot's palace. For long time the abbey was the city's official residence of the Holy Roman Emperors. In the 1980s a restoration discovered frescoes from the 12th to 15th centuries.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.