When you hear the name “Verona” one thing comes immediately to your mind: the city where it took place the most famous story of all times, the one with Romeo and Juliet. Even though some people think that Shakespeare never actually visited Verona, there are so many things to see in Verona, this Italian city that inspired the English playwriter.
Verona was since the Roman Empire a very important trade center and in the middle ages flourished under the rule of the Scaligeri family. So the city has a very rich history and definitely hosted many real stories full of drama, love and feudal families.
VERONA – A QUICK GLIMPSE
Why have a quick glimpse of Verona? Like in every city, I strongly advise before visiting to have a quick look in what the city has to offer in order to decide if it’s a destination for you if you will really like it and adjust your expectations. In this way, you can reduce the possibilities to get disappointed (even though I think it’s very rare to get disappointed in Italy!) and you can have an amazing adventure.
Do you think that I exaggerate? Well, once someone who I met in Rome complained that the city has “a lot of ancient stones” and “no skyscrapers” (!). So what about Verona?
- The city is not huge, is a middle size Italian city that can actually be discovered in 2 days
- It’s VERY romantic, so yes, it’s a wedding proposal destination for many Italians and foreigners. Lovers come here also to celebrate Saint Valentine’s or just have a romantic weekend.
- It has a university, so yes, you can see a lot of students.
- Verona’s historic center is so beautiful that is an official UNESCO world heritage site.
- Like in the past, nowadays the city is a little bit “rich”. In other words, don’t be surprised if you see very expensive cars passing by. The prices in the restaurants are a little bit high and you cannot find easily a cheap hostel. Even if you go shopping you will notice that there are many expensive clothes and brands. Why? Well, from what I heard (it’s just something that someone told me, so not an official thing!) there are many factories in the area and they pay very good wages. Italians love to get dressed elegant and they love to drive beautiful cars, so yes, this may be an explanation to the city prices.
10 THINGS TO SEE IN VERONA
#1. THE ROMAN ARENA
This is the city’s major attraction. It is located in the beautiful Piazza Bra and is very impressive. I think it’s worth getting the ticket and see the Arena of Verona from the inside.
It may look like Colosseo but don’t get confused! Verona is very well preserved and it is been used until today for having concerts in the summer. Famous Italians and international singers had a concert here. I remember in 2017, Robbie Williams had an amazing concert here!
If you are planning to see a lot of museums and go sightseeing, I strongly advise you to buy the Verona Card, that gives you free access in a lot of museums and unlimited use of public transport. You can buy the card online here.
#2. JULIET’S BALCONY IN VERONA
Like you probably know, Shakespear’s story is fake and Romeo and Juliet never actually really existed. So why is there a “balcony of Juliet and Romeo”???
The city of Verona since 1930 understood how many money the brand R&J could bring in from tourists and lovers so they just picked a random charming balcony and baptized it “the balcony of Juliet”.
You can enter for free in the yard in front of the balcony and the house and take pictures but be prepared. This is a very famous attraction in Verona and it is very crowded. If you want, you can pay and enter in the house of Juliet and get out on the balcony and scream to your Romeo. Personally, I skipped that step.
You will notice in all over the place love letters, love graffiti, gums and love lockers from all the couples that came here before. Really strange no?
If you are into this R&J thing you can walk 10 minutes and go to Juliet’s tomb. Oh yes, there is also a tomb for Shakespeare’s fictional character.
You can see the gardens for free but if you want to enter the museum you have to pay the ticket or simply have the Verona Card.
This castle was built in 1350 but was bombarded by Napoleon and later took some other hits from the Second Wolrd War. Everybody was thinking that the time to say goodbye to the castle had come, but Carlo Scarpa, an architect with a vision managed to give a new life to the castle. For example, wherever the bombs left a hole, he created cool windows. How cool is that?!
Now the castle hosts the biggest museum in Verona, so if you like art don’t forget to visit it!
#4. PANORAMIC VIEWS OF VERONA FROM LAMBERTI TOWER AND CASTEL SAN PIETRO
Almost in every Italian city, you can climb somewhere and have a panoramic view. In Verona, you can take the elevator in Lamberti Tower and have this romantic panoramic view.
My tip: something that nowhere you will read and nobody tells is you until you get into the elevator is that you are getting under some giant BELLS. These bells are still working so when you buy your ticket to the top they just whisper “hey, enjoy the view but remember that they bells are getting active every half an hour“. So in other words, if you don’t want to get deaf or something you should hurry up and get the hell of out of there before the bells start to ring.
Looking for another beautiful place to have a panoramic view of Verona? Just cross the beautiful bridges of ponte scaligero or ponte pietra and go the castle San Pietro. You can take the funicular, with just 2 euros it takes you up to the top in 1 minute! It’s a very romantic spot and you stay longer there with your loved one. The first picture in this articles is taken from there.
#5. CHURCH SANT’ANASTASIA AND DUOMO
The truth is that I did a lot of traveling in Italy and especially after the Vatican, the churches are not impressing me. The church of Sant’Anastasia though is very beautiful and a very nice point of interest in Verona that definitely worths your time. You can see also the Duomo (Duomo means the cathedral) of Verona.
#6. PIAZZA DELLE ERBE
Piazza Delle Erbe is Verona’s most famous square and a highly recommended tourist attraction. You can chill and have a coffee in the cafes there, have an aperitivo or do some shopping from the handmade market.
#7. SCALIGERI GRAVES
Like I wrote above, the noble family of Scaligeri ruled in Verona and they left some pretty gothic style graves that you can admire.
#8. DO SOME SHOPPING IN VIA MAZZINI
This street has shops like Zara etc. but not only. You can find some boutiques and some other shops to buy quality Italian clothes. If you are searching for cheap “made in China” stuff you will have a hard time finding them. What to buy in Verona? Leather shoes. The prices and the quality are really good.
#9. HAVE AN APERITIVO AND A DINNER IN A LOCAL RESTAURANT
Aperitivo was born in Northen Italy and it is unacceptable to visit this city and don’t have at least one Spirtz. Aperitivo is really cheap in Verona, with 4-5€ you can have a drink and some snacks before dinner.
I know that not everybody during his travels has the opportunity to eat out every night, but I strongly recommend skipping Mac Donalds’, sandwich or other cheap eats from the supermarket and have a proper Italian dinner in a restaurant. Food is culture and you will not understand another nation’s culture if you skip the local cuisine.
In Verona, I had dinner at Osteria Sottoriva (around 30 euros per person) where locals usually go. Get an appetizer of cheese, prosciutto and accompany it with Valpolicella wine. For the main dish try the horse meatballs or the pork with mushrooms.
It is a very romantic restaurant so you have to make a reservation.
For pizza go to Olivo, it’s less romantic but is an easy going place: if you are a lot of people, you haven’t’ had a reservation for dinner go to Olivo because the place is huge and they have so many other options not only pizza.
For a nice aperitivo try Il coloniale piccolo. It is a very small bar but they have tables also outside. A rich buffet and drink for 3,5€!
For coffee, breakfast and tasty sweets go to Caffè Wallner. I went also to the Loacker Point, a little bit crowded but a nice place to enjoy a hot chocolate.
CONCLUSIONS ABOUT VERONA
I had a beautiful weekend in Verona, even during the winter. Dedicating 2 days in this beautiful atmospheric city of northern Italy is a great decision. It is a perfect getaway also for Saint Valentines and a valid alternative to packed Venezia.
I stayed in an Airbnb – here is a discount – but you can have a look at this hotel offers below.
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