Located in Italy’s northern region of Veneto, Verona is nothing short of beautiful and captivating. Famous for being the town of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, this city has built up a romantic reputation as being a destination for couples. In love or not, Verona is a great location for anyone to relax on weekend getaway or to stop for a day trip along your tour of Italy. With vined balconies overhanging cobblestone streets and historical sites hidden around every corner, Verona is easy to enjoy. Here is a list of things to do in Verona. You’ll be surprised to see that there are many charming attractions in addition to Juliet’s balcony!
1/ Piazza Bra
First on the list is to walk around Piazza Bra, Verona’s largest piazza. Piazza Bra is a picture-perfect square. In the middle, you can find a small, cozy park decorated with flowers and a fountain. Then, colorful old palaces (now housing bars, restaurants and pizzerias) line the main sidewalk. Tourists often stop here to delight in their surroundings and enjoy lunch or aperitivo. On the opposite end of the square, Palazzo Barbieri stands tall with an impressive exterior, architecturally inspired by Roman temples. Here, you can also peer at the Arena of Verona, an amphitheater built in the first century. This is the third-largest Roman amphitheater still standing today, and in the summer months, it continues to function as an entertainment center.
2/ Verona Arena
As stated above, the Arena of Verona dates back to the first century, and this grand structure still functions today, holding thousands of people at one time. At least five different productions alternate nights in the summer varying from operas, classical concerts and ballets. If you’re visiting Verona in July and August, we highly suggest attending one of these performances in the amphitheater. Twenty-first century lighting and sound combined with the abstract fascination of the ancient arena creates a truly memorable experience.
3/ Torre dei Lamberti (Lamberti Tower)
Torre dei Lamberti is Verona’s tallest tower, making the view at the top a must-see site. Built in the late twelfth century and elevated over the years, this tower now stands 84 meters tall. Visitors are treated to a panoramic view of the city center, the surrounding mountains as well as a glimpse of Lake Garda. Amidst the multiple elevation renovations, a lift was also installed, so visitors have the option to take the lift or climb stairs to the top.
4/ Piazza Erbe markets
Back on the ground, we recommend visiting Piazza Erbe to experience a busy, authentic Italian market. To tourists, these markets are a favorite pastime, but to Italians, chatting with vendors is a part of everyday life, making it a fun place to people-watch and experience the local culture. At the Piazza Erbe market, you can find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to special cheeses and local pasta such as bigoli. If you are there during the holiday season, there is a large Christmas market in the neighboring piazza: Piazza dei Signori. Warm, melted cheese slathered on pretzels, strawberries dipped in creamy milk chocolate and mulled red wine will have your taste buds salivating as you navigate through the booths.
5/ Porta Borsari
The Roman Empire ruled Verona for a few hundred years; therefore, Roman structural remains are scattered throughout the city. Porta Borsari is one of the few ancient Roman structures still intact. This gate served as the main entry to the city in during the first century AD. Today, two old palaces sandwich Porta Borsari, highlighting the gate’s ornate facade and white limestone.
6/ Palazzo and Giardino Giusti
During the changing seasons of spring and fall, Giardino Giusti is a perfect place to explore. For a small entry fee, you can tour the garden on your own. The ticket office provides a map with historical descriptions of each section of the lawn and its decor. Distracted by the colorful plants and flowers, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the view when you reach the garden’s highest point. Visitors are also welcome to tour the L-shaped palace protecting this serene garden. The wealthy Giusti family build the palace in the late 1500s, and it houses seventeenth century frescoes by famous Veronese artists.
7/ Sant’ Anastasia Basilica
The Basilica of Saint Anastasia is a Gothic-style church found near the Ponte Pietra, the oldest part of the city. Upon entering the brick church, you are immediately captured by the bright, colorful ceilings. Red designs pop against the white background and fifteenth century frescoes depict the holy trinity and the Dominican pilgrimage to Verona. Marble columns separate the church’s aisles, leading your eyes to three chapels, the center one with stained glass windows and floral Gothic vaults. This basilica is majestic, and visitors leave awestruck by its beauty.
8/ Castel San Pietro
Castel San Pietro offers another breathtaking view, focused on the Verona’s city center. From this vantage point, you can look down on the Adige River and see charming old churches, palaces and bell towers, which comprise Verona. Unlike the Lamberti Tower, there is not a lift transporting visitors to this spot, but the stairwell is not steep and is comparatively mild to other Italian bell towers or domes. There are benches to rest at the top, so bring a snack, sit back, relax and take in Verona’s landscape.
9/ Casa di Giulietta
Casa di Giulietta, Juliet’s house, is Verona’s most famous attraction. Tourists flock to the small courtyard, snap a picture with Juliet’s bronze sculpture and marvel at the power of love. To the right of the courtyard, you can admire a reconstructed balcony from which, as tradition states, Juliet Capulet looked down to secretly talk to Romeo. After buying an entry ticket, one can also walk through Juliet’s house and even look out from the balcony, posing as the young lover. Many people have high hopes for this site but you should be aware that the courtyard is oftentimes crowded, especially during the summer, so be prepared for a claustrophobic experience. Also, tourists have left their own marks of love by covering the walls with chewing gum and graffiti. To some, this is not the most romantic form of expression, but it does give the traditional legend a modern twist.
Text by Torie Gray