Love is forever in the air in Verona, but the idyllic northeastern Italian city is home to more than Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet. The historic city was founded in the 1st century B.C and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 due to its urban structure and architecture and there is so many things to do!
Places To Visit In Verona
Packed with romance, beauty, culture and of course plenty of gelato, this laidback city is less crowded than nearby neighbours Venice and Milan. The winding cobbled streets, flamboyant structures adorned with Mediterranean pastel colours and bustling piazzas will have architecture lovers in heaven.
The museums and churches will keep the Renaissance art fans happy. History enthusiasts will rejoice as they stumble across all the Roman ruins scattered around the city. Foodies will discover a wonderland of good eats. Oh and let’s not forget the world-class summer opera season!
Verona is place you have to visit at least once in your life. Here are a few tips and highlights to guide you on your first visit.
How to get to verona
Verona is easy to access with a number of options available. For those in the UK and Europe driving is an option. Incorporate it as part of a road trip itinerary for a great European adventure.
Train is a great choice within Europe. The network in Italy is great and there are trains from all over the country which connect to Verona.
Verona Villafranca Airport is only 6 miles outside of the main city centre. Fly with either BA, Easyjet, Ryanair or Jet2. Check out the latest flight times and prices here.
where to stay in verona
There are so many small hotels tucked away in the picturesque streets of Verona. Antica Porta Leona & SPA is a historic property that dates back to the 15th century. Located in the heart of Verona it’s set into a cul-de-sac next to the Ancient Roman Lion Gate.
The beautifully designed rooms are modern with a calm decor mostly in shades of white and and pale grey.
It’s surrounded by the most interesting cultural attractions of Verona. The famous balcony of Juliet’s house is 100 yards down the road. After all the walking you can return and treat yourself to the spa!
For more Verona hotel ideas, inspiration and latest prices head to Tripadvisor.
What To Do in Verona Italy
enjoy Piazza delle Erbe
Originally a Roman forum and probably the most charming piazzas in Verona. The diamond shaped piazza is lined with various buildings such as the town hall with its impressive Torre dei Lamberti, and the beautifully frescoed walls of the Mazzanti houses.
The oldest part of the square is a fountain which features a statue of Madonna Verona, dating back to Roman rule. During tourists wander around with a gelato in hand or enjoying a coffee or lunch at the numerous outdoor cafes. In the evenings the tempo is high with music flowing as it fills with locals and tourists sipping Aperol spritz at the bars.
The square shaped fortress, Castelvecchio has stood on the banks of the River Adige since its initial construction in 1354. With its seven towers, a castle keep, and four separate buildings the city’s most imposing building was the greatest achievement of engineering for the Scaliger dynasty.
Today, it’s also home to a museum of art, sculpture, other artifacts, and a collection of paintings. There are also some beautiful viewpoints which overlook the bridge and river, so have your camera at the ready.
Experience Arena Di Verona
Built in the 1st century A.D the open air Veronese amphitheatre even predates the Colosseum in Rome. Adjacent to Piazza Bra, it’s one of the best preserved Roman amphitheatres and is still in use today.
It’s seen gladiatorial games to concerts by The Who, Whitney Houston and Adele. The amphitheatre used to hold about 30,000 spectators and still contains all of its original seating and exterior arches – Just mind blowing!
Summer means opera in Verona, if visiting between July and September don’t miss out on the festival. Due to the incredible acoustics of the ancient Roman amphitheatre, it’s one of the best places in the world to see an opera. It was a dream come true when experiencing Bizet’s Carmen on a summers evening as it gradually turned to twilight.
follow the story of love
The most popular attractions in the city are of course associated with love and two fictional characters – Romeo and Juliet. The names Montecchi and Capuleti (from which we get the Montagues and Capulets) were genuine feuding political families in Verona. Although no evidence has ever been found of the names Romeo and Juliet. Meanwhile, as you wander around the city you’ll see how it has fully adopted the tale of the star-crossed lovers to their benefit.
On the Via Cappello, Casa di Giulietta is the alleged building from the famous scene in Shakespeare’s play where the famous words “O Romeo Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” are uttered. Ignoring the fact the balcony is actually a 17th century sarcophagus. Attached to the wall it tries to be the balcony that never was at Juliet’s House.
There is also Romeo’s house. The Montecchi’s once resided in the neighbourhood so a medieval house with a beautiful Gothic facade from the 14th century was named the spot. Now privately owned it’s not possible to go inside, but countless tourists can still be found admiring Romeo’s so-called house from outside.
Venture slightly further and you can visit Juliet’s ‘tomb’ in the vaults of the Abbey of San Francesco. Obviously empty, as err…she didn’t actually really exist did she?! And if you still want more, how about penning your own note for the fictional Juliet asking for guidance in love. Simply addressed Juliet, Verona it will be answered by the Juliet Club. I’ll be honest, we were a bit divided on this one. Then again, people go on Ulysses pub crawls in Dublin don’t they?
Walk across Ponte Pietra
Ponte Pietra is one of the prettiest bridges in the city, connecting the old city of Verona with Teatro Romano and Castel San Pietro. The oldest bridge in the city, it has been damaged and rebuilt more than once due to floods and war. Two of its arches made from white stone are of original Roman material.
see the rooftops from Castel St Pietro
Behind Ponte Pietra on the eastern bank of the Adige, lies the Castle of Saint Peter a medieval fortress set high on a tree-lined hilltop. During the 1300’s the actual castle was built to fortify the city and has stood firm for over 400 years.
The castle is no longer open to the public, but you can wander through the grounds and admire its impressive architecture. Although the views from the surrounding terrace are the main reason to make the calorie burning climb. It’s one of the highest panoramas over the rooftops of historic Verona. If the climb is too much there is also a funicular that can take you to stunning views in a matter of minutes.
Stop at the Porta Borsari
This ancient Roman white limestone gate once marked the southern entrance into Verona. With two arched entrances, it’s a stunning example of the impressive scale of Roman architecture and how this now blends into the modern city it is today.
don’t miss Piazza dei Signori
One of the smaller squares of the city but beautiful in its own right. Filled with building and monuments holding great historical importance, visitors can marvel at the Renaissance palaces that grace the square.
A large statue dedicated to the poet Dante stands in the piazza. Erected in 1865, the poet spend many years in the city of Verona after his exile from Florence.
Morbid, much? A fascinating place to visit next to Piazza dei Signori is the Scaliger Tombs. A group of five gothic funerary monuments in Verona dedicated to the Scaliger family, who ruled in Verona from the 13th to the late 14th century.
Contained within a series of ornate iron grills, the monuments are famous and widely photographed for the stone carvings and elaborate decoration. You can view the Scaliger tombs for free from behind the ironwork fence, or pay the entrance fee to see the tombs up close.
Marvel at Basilica di Sant’Anastasia
The Basilica of Saint Anastasia can be found in the centre of the ancient city. Verona’s largest church is a fine example of Italian Gothic architecture. Dating from the 13th to 15th centuries, it features a beautifully elegant and decorated vaulted ceiling.
head up to Torre dei Lamberti
For a birds-eye view of the Verona, climb to the top of Torre dei Lamberti, a 12th century, 84 metre high watchtower with an octagonal bell tower. A lift takes you up two-thirds of the way, but you have to scale the last few storeys. Think of it as earning some pasta points.
Located in Piazza Della Erbe treat yourself with a drink from one of the many cafes after your descent.
indulge in a FooD Tour
Cuisine in Verona is quite different from the Italian fayre we’re used to all over the world. It’s much more than pasta, although that does of course feature. Traditional dishes from northern Italy are based on rice, so you’ll see a lot of risotto. Also polenta, eaten usually with salami, cured meat or cheese.
Another quite unusual dish of Verona is horse and donkey meat. It’s a tradition which dates back to the barbaric invasions, at the end of the Roman Empire, when northern European tribes who used to eat horse meat settled in Verona.
A great way to navigate your way through the history and charm of the city and learn about Verona’s culinary scene is to book a food tour. In three hours a passionate and local guide will have you up to speed with all things Veronese and you end with a feast of authentic regional dishes. Think lots of cheese, cured meat, risotto and the great Valpolicella wines including the great Amarone. Dietary requirements are catered for if discussed prior to the tour.
Disclosure: The tour was complimentary via Voyageurs du Monde a French travel agency who specialise in tailor-made trips and soon to be launching a UK branch.
take a day trip to lake garda
However many days you decide to spend in Verona, ensure you add on one extra for a day trip to Lake Garda. It’s a 20 minute train journey or if you prefer to drive an hour and 15 minutes by car.
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and a popular holiday destination known for its sheer beauty. Arrive in Desenzano del Garda, explore the piazzas full of life, with shops and eateries.
The picturesque boat marina also boasts a sidewalk of cafes and colorful building. It’s the perfect place to enjoy an Aperol spritz with the majestic Alps as a backdrop.
From Desenzano board a ten minute ferry to the stunning Sirmione. The castle town on a skinny peninsula lengthens into Lake Garda and is a must-see if you’re in this area.
An imposing castle as the centrepiece with its moat and drawbridge, alongside the cobbled streets lined with stone buildings flaunting colourful flower boxes gives this town the most romantic and charming setting.
The town also has a small beautiful beach so perfect if you’re travelling with kids. It’s a day trip not to miss!
What are your must-see sights of Verona? Have I convinced you to book a trip? I hope this list of some of the best things to do in Verona have helped you plan your next trip! Let me know in the comments box below.
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