Immortalized in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Verona is undoubtedly one of the most romantic cities in Italy and the perfect destination for a city break. With its wealth of Roman sites and narrow streets of pink-hued medieval buildings, Verona is an easy-going city with more sights than other city in Veneto except of course Venice itself. Most will know Verona as the backdrop for Shakespeare’s tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet, a story which has turned this city into an elegant thriving tourist attraction for romantics and historians alike. Aside from Verona’s romance tourism, the city is full of elegant squares, fine Renaissance palaces and a magnificent Roman Amphitheatre that dominates the city centre.
Top Attractions in Verona
Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s House)
The Casa di Giulietta lies at the heart of Verona’s history. This is an obligatory port of call for any visitor to Verona. The 14th century house claiming to be the house of the Capulets is the biggest tourist attraction in Verona. People do not flock here just to see the famous balcony, but many visitors, mostly young women, write on the wall at the entrance of the courtyard, known as Juliet’s Wall in the hope it will bring everlasting love. It is also a tradition to put small love letters on the walls (which is done by the thousands each year), which are replied by local volunteers called Club di Giulietta, a group which has been replying to love letters since 1980’s. TIP: Visit early in the morning or late afternoon for your best chance of an uncrowded experience!
Tomba di Giulietta
Although Juliet was a fictional character you can visit an empty red stone sarcophagus at the peaceful crypt of San Francesco al Corso, a short walk from Juliet’s house. Another must visit if you are a fan of Shakespeare’s tragic love story.
Dating back to the first century AD, Verona’s Arena is a magnificent example of an ancient Roman amphitheatre. It is one of the best preserved Roman Arena’s in the world and it is definitely one sight you do not want to miss out. This spectacular piece of architecture could once hold over 30,000 people and if you stand on the top tier and look down, way down, you can picture the gladiator battles that once took place here. You’ll also get good views across the city from here too! These days it is often used for city fairs and, in summer, up to 25,000 people at a time fill it to attend an annual opera season of popular Italian opera – notably Verdi’s Aida.
Torre dei Lamberti (Lamberti Tower)
Basilica di San Zeno
Basilica di San Zeno is one of the most important examples of Romanesque architecture in Italy, dating back to 4th or 5th Century. Most visitors come to see its magnificent Romanesque façade, large rose windows and large bronze doors. Inside the church you can see 13th and 14th century frescoes and the crypt where the remains of San Zeno, Verona's patron saint.
Behind Piazza dei Signori lies the ornate stone tombs of Verona’s leading medieval family, the della Scala. The arches are among the most distinguished monuments of gothic art in the entire city of Verona. These tombs are said to date back to 1300’s and are located in a court of the church of Santa Maria Antica.
Piazza delle Erbe
Lying at the heart of the city, Piazza delle Erbe is surrounded by historic, colourful frescoed buildings and is arguably the most picturesque square in Verona. By day this historic square is a marketplace and by night after the street vendors have packed away it becomes the living room of Verona where locals and tourists spill out into the squares outside restaurants turning it into a giant open air bar. You’ll also notice, although hard to spot through all the market stalls is The Lion of St Mark on a column at the end of the square, a reminder that Verona once belonged to the great Venetian Empire during the days of the Renaissance.
Castelvecchio & Ponte Scaligero
Castelvecchio is an impressive 14th Century fortress built by Cangrande II della Scala who was Lord of Verona. The castle boasts tall imposing walls and vast towers which lend a magnificence and sense of raw power to its complex. It was built alongside the Ponte Scaligero which runs from the castle across the River Adige. The bridge was once one of the finest examples of 13th Century engineering until the Germans bombed it in 1945.
Duomo di Verona (Santa Maria Matricolare)
This great twelfth century cathedral is a great example of the different styles that were current at the different stages of its reconstruction – Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance. This site is actually older than twelfth century as the current cathedral was built over an existing medieval church dating back to 1139. Visitors to the Duomo come to see its artistic delights that include sculptures depicting the story of Jonah, a lion, an angel and the Virgin Mary and Titian's 1530 painting of the Assumption of the Virgin.
Teatro Romano (Roman Theatre)
Built into the natural curve of the hillsides Verona’s Roman Theatre is a great example of traditional Roman architecture. Dated back to the 1st Century this small but ancient theatre was completely hidden up until the 1800’s when a merchant bought the land and buildings that were built over the theatre and began the lengthy task of excavating the site, unveiling the old Roman amphitheatre beneath. Now days the theatre is used in the summer for open air performances of Shakespeare’s plays, ballets and jazz concerts.
If you are in Verona for a few days and plan on visiting a few of the museums or attractions it may be wise to invest in a Veronacard which you can purchase for €15 euro for 24 hours and €20 euro for 72 hours after the first validation.
Best time to visit
Tourists visit Verona April and October
Air - Verona’s Valerio Catullo Airport is around 12km from the city. Since the airport is quite small it does not accept flights from huge international airports so most visitors arrive from regional airports all over Italy. A local shuttle bus connects the airport to the main train station at Porta Nuova.
Train – The easiest way into the city is by train. Many of Italy’s cities will have direct or in-direct connections to Verona’s Porta Nuova train station. To get to the centre from the station follow the street to your right as you exit the station and walk through the city gate and straight ahead along Corso Porta Nuova.
Road – If you arrive to Verona by car it is advisable to leave it your hotel. Like many Italian cities Verona has very limited city central parking, so use public transport to get into the city.