What to see and do in Verona
Verona was never on my travel radar. Italy was, of course, and I wanted to see as much as possible before my eventual demise, but before the era of Instagram and Pinterest, Italy was distilled down to pocket travel books and basic google searches to discover anywhere outside of Rome, Venice and Sicily.
Not to sound hoaky but it wasn't until I saw the movie "Letters to Juliet", that I became conscious of the beauty of Verona. The film captured the best of the cityscapes and countryside, and I felt summoned, I had to see it for myself.
The following year when my studly boyfriend (Note: he added that part) asked where I wanted to go that year, I immediately said Verona. He smiled and said alright, knowing that I had already planned the trip, once in my head, twice online and three times on scraps of paper. Little did I know, the real magic of Verona was beyond anything Hollywood could capture.
So far, (because I still have a lot of Italian cities to visit) Verona, is my absolute favourite. It is a perfect size and not yet overrun by anxious tourists or the cruise ship crowd. The Veronese are beyond fabulous. Northern Itay feels different from the south, they move at a calmer pace; the food and the architecture, there is so much to love about Verona.
When you are ready to visit Verona, Boutique Travel style, I have compiled some ideas to assist you. Verona is a small place, you can certainly see most of it in a day, but do not be deceived, there is more than meets the eye. I highly recommend you plan a few days and really fall in love with this Italian jewel.
Of course, while in Verona, you should experience the fantastic food that Northern Italy has to offer. Click here for: Where to Eat in Verona, Best Cafes Verona, Best Gelato in Verona, Best Pizza In Verona, Drinks with a view in Verona.
Arena di Verona:
A Roman amphitheatre built in 30 AD, the landmark is awe-inspiring. Certainly smaller than it's big brother, the Colosseum in Rome, the Verona arena is considered to be in better condition; still used for concerts and world-famous opera performances. We enjoyed a Sting concert last year, well, we endured a Sting concert sung by Shaggy as it turned out. The disappointment of having to listen to Shaggy, however, was dwarfed by the atmosphere; an eclectic mix of contemporaneous and ancient elements situated on a palpably historic site.
Piazza delle Erbe:
Erbe is a lively market square operated for centuries; dating back to the Roman empire. From food to trinkets, local merchants sell everything from jewellery to fresh produce in the middle of this historic piazza. If shopping is not your thing, pull up a seat and take in "the action" at one of the many restaurants which line the square. Depending on the time of day, enjoy a coffee or Spritz (an Italian drink of prosecco, Aperol and soda). The 2,000-year-old fountain in the middle of Erbe is a favourite meeting spot for young locals, and there is always plenty of people watching to be had.
Italian for "Old Castel" was constructed in 1354. A critical military structure of the Scaliger Dynasty which ruled the city in the Middle Ages. The multiple towers and the plain facade is a perfect example of Gothic architecture from that period. Don't forget to snap some selfies on the elaborate escape route bridge; built initially for the castle residents in the event of an attack by their loyal subjects. The views of the river are quite stunning. Today, Castelvecchio is a museum filled with sculptures, statues, paintings and weapons from the period. You can roam the grounds for free.
Located just inside the ancient gates to the walled city, this is Verona's main square. It is one of the largest piazzas in Italy and serves to welcome you to the town. Historic buildings line the square, and their ground floors are filled with coffee shops, bars and restaurants. Its a lively and colourful place, offering exquisite views of the Arena. A perfect spot to sip an aperitivo.
Torre dei Lamberti:
Situated in Piazza Della Erbe, you will find the Torre Del Lambert towering 276 feet above the city skyline and this historic square. For just a few euros you can climb the stairs or take the lift to the top for an unmatched 365-degree view of Verona and the best insta selfies in Verona.
Castel San Pietro:
Across the Ponte Pietra bridge, and a short hike or cable car ride up to the top of the hill is Castel San Pietro. The hilltop fortress was built in the 19th century. Surrounded by beautiful, towering cypress trees, this precipice offers panoramic views of Verona and the surrounding countryside. The perfect vantage point for sunset pictures and a picturesque capture of the Verona skyline. You can even sit and enjoy a Spritz or aperitivo at the Castel Cafe.
Casa di Giulietta:
Ironically, while the film inspired my visit to Verona, Juliet's balcony is more novelty than awe-inspiring. The "balcony", which was actually purpose-built for the film creates a neat little tourist trap, but you won't find yourself wanting to spend a lot of time there. It is a tiny courtyard with the bronze statue of the fictional Julliett, a wall of chewing gum love letters and a wall of what can only be described as graffiti.
The clever Veronese have capitalized on the movie concepts by placing plywood on the walls for the anticipated graffiti. They even sell various pens and markers, as well as love letter materials in shops adjoining the alleyway into this courtyard. When space on the wall is saturated with love notes, the wood panels are replaced, and the completed panels are chopped up and sold as modern art.
Piazza dei Signori:
The Piazza dei Signori was the historical centre of power in Verona. The square contained all the government buildings and courthouse. The square now is tranquil, only two small restaurant patios are located there, but the architecture is well maintained, and the square is a nice respite on a sunny day. In the centre, you will find a statue of the famous Italian poet Dante Alighieri. A name that always makes me crave red wine.
This famous bridge in Verona spans across the Adige River, connecting the city to the east bank of the river. The bridge, made from Travertine and brick, was completed in 100 BC. Sections of it were destroyed during World War II but rebuilt using original materials in 1957. You will likely walk over it a few times during your stay.