Verona

Verona City Guide

Photo by Starry-J on Pixabay // CC0
Photo by Starry-J on Pixabay // CC0

Introduction

If you’re a fan of English literature, the name Verona will ring a bell. That’s because, in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the star-crossed protagonists lived in this Italian city.

Of course, this play was a fictitious tale. However, that doesn’t stop scores of tourists from visiting this city in Northeastern Italy. There is more to this place than this Renaissance-era myth, though. With Roman remnants, a mighty castle, and a pair of notable churches, there is plenty to see here.

Top Attractions

While the drama of Romeo and Juliet was set in the Renaissance era, Verona’s biggest attraction dates from Roman times. So, as soon as you get settled, make sure to see the Arena di Verona first. This impressive structure was an ancient Roman amphitheatre that once played host to ludi, or “shows and games”.

After the end of the Roman Empire, however, an earthquake nearly spelled the end of this structure’s functional life. By the Renaissance era, though, local authorities restored the facility to a usable state. Today, this gorgeous theatre is still used for operas, and it may host the closing ceremony of the 2026 Winter Olympic Games.

Next, make your way over to the Museo di Castelvecchio. This castle served as the home of the Scaliger dynasty, which ruled over Verona from the 13th to the 14th century. It was (and continues to be) an imposing brick structure, with ramparts that tower over the River Adige.

But Castelvecchio is more than just an impressive historic monument. Within, you’ll find a museum that goes into depth on its history. This includes its involvement in the Napoleonic Wars when it saw significant action.

Verona also has several churches of note. If you have limited time, start by seeing Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore. This Romanesque basilica is impressive enough on its own, as it boasts a marvelous facade and a crypt.

However, it is best known by Shakespeare fans as the marriage place to two (fictitious) star-crossed lovers: Romeo and Juliet. Because of this, you may encounter more visitors than you would otherwise expect.

If you have more time, also include Basilica di Santa Anastasia in your plans. This Gothic church also has an amazing facade, along with frescoes and a hunchback sculpture.

Other Attractions

If you are traveling with green thumbs, make plans to check out the Giardino Giusti. This garden sits on the grounds of Palazzo Giusti, which was once home to a leading family in Verona. It was created in the late 16th century and is regarded as one of the most beautiful Renaissance gardens in Europe.

However, our changing climate recently dealt this attraction a stiff blow. In 2020, a violent storm damaged/killed many plants, including a 600-year-old Goethe Cypress tree.

After visiting Castelvecchio, spend some time admiring Castelvecchio Bridge. This span crosses the River Adige and leads directly to Castelvecchio. This is no ordinary bridge – since its creation in the 14th century, it has boasted fortified positions. This feature gives it a visual profile that will command the attention of any photography enthusiast.

But while this bridge stood up to Napoleonic era bombardments, it was no match for WWII weaponry. As the Nazis retreated in 1945, they destroyed the span. But after the war, locals restored the span to its former glory.

Want to capture a killer shot of Verona? Then head up the hill that Piazzale Castel San Pietro sits upon. From its top, you’ll have unobstructed views over its historic core.

But to do that, you need to get to the top first. There are two ways up: by footpath, or by funicular. The round trip funicular ticket costs 3 EUR, though, which is more than a reasonable price.

Lastly, spend an evening in Piazza delle Erbe. A centre of civic life since Roman times, it has evolved into one of the most picturesque squares in Europe. Our suggestion: find a seat at a bar or cafe, and watch the world go by.

What To Eat/Drink

After a long day of sightseeing, refuel in style by ordering a plate of Risotto Amarone. There are two foundations to this dish – Amarone red wine and Vialone Nano rice. The vino gives this risotto its characteristic colour, while ingredients like butter, onions, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese further flavour it.

While you’re savouring this meal, have some Ciabatta as a side. This suggestion isn’t just because this bread pairs well with risotto – Verona is where Ciabatta was created. Made to compete with the rising popularity of French baguettes, this bread compared very favourably.

And as you enjoy your dinner, have some Verona wine. If you love dry reds, Bardolino is a great choice, while those who prefer a sweet white should choose Soave. Buon Appetito!

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