Verona is one place not to miss when planning your Italy itinerary. If you love Italy and are looking for a new place to visit, Verona is a fantastic city to visit, if only for a day. The city will enthrall you with the vestiges of its Roman heritage that bring to life the tales of the glorious era. The city even inspired the famous William Shakespeare, who based two of his plays including Romeo and Juliet. To entice you further, here is a list of things to do in Verona. We are pretty sure that after reading through it, you will be including Verona for your Italian vacation.
A Roman settlement since 89BC, Verona was known as “little Rome” and became an influential city because of several roads converging along the Adige River. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site with a pedestrian-friendly and compact old town. Verona has incredible architecture and an ancient history that will keep you in awe. This is one of those cities you want to stay longer and return to again and again. So, let’s get started with the history of the place.
History of Verona
The earliest reference to Verona goes back to 500 BC as the city of Euganei. In 89 BC, it became a Roman Colony. Palaces were built, wars were fought but Verona stayed with the Romans right past Renaissance. It became a part of the Napolean’s conquest in the late 1700s and ultimately passed onto the Austrians. From then, it became a part of the Italian kingdom in the 1860s. It did suffer a lot of damage during World War II but ultimately, survived it. With centuries of this colorful history, today, Verona is a must-visit destination in Italy.
How to reach Verona?
- Verona has its own airport with flight connectivity to some of the key cities of Europe. There are plenty of low-cost airlines that operate at this airport.
- There are regular trains, especially on the Milan and Venice route that stop here. The train station in Verona is quite central to the city, making it a convenient option to reach Verona as against the airport that is 12 km away from the city.
- Verona has good road connectivity. That is one of the key reasons why a lot of people make it a day trip from Venice and Milan. You can find plenty of buses from these two cities to get you to Verona.
If you are in Venice, then make sure you go to the Doges Palace. Discover the grand lifestyle of the Doges while you explore the prison where the famous Casanova was kept. Read all about my visit to the Doge's palace here
Where to stay in Verona?
- If you want to stay in the thick of things, then the best area to stay in Verona would be the historic center. Literally, everything would be within walking distance for you. From museums to important historical sites and the best of cafes, you can explore it all while staying in Verona hotels of your choice. You can check this link for the reviews and the best hotels in Verona historic center.
- Porto Nuova is as interesting as the Historic center in terms of the Verona attractions but is a little quieter. There are plenty of Bed and Breakfast options in Verona located here. It is also, close to the Verona railway station. In case you are looking to book hotels in this area, you can use this link to do so.
Best things to do in Verona
Now that you have the basic information on how to get to Verona and the accommodation in Verona, it is time to plan your itinerary, Here is our list of the places of interest in Verona. Let’s get started!
Consider booking this Verona Card online through this link. The Verona Card gives you skip-the-line access to various museums and monuments in the city. You can choose from a 24 hour or a 48-hour option. The card also, allows you to travel free on the ATV bus network in Verona. Booking through the website will not cost you anything extra but will help me get a commission to keep this website going.
1. Find Alcoves on Castelvecchio Bridge
When you first walk through the gatehouse towards the Castelvecchio bridge, you could be mistaken, thinking you are entering the Castelvecchio Castle. But as you walk a little further, you find yourself in this unique medieval bridge constructed of red brick between 1354-1356. With its battlements and small nooks, it crosses over the Adige River.
You can climb up the alcoves for elevated views of the city or cross over the bridge for photos on the opposite bank. Here you’ll find the old steps leading to the river where boats moored. Come back in the evening as Castelvecchio Bridge is a perfect spot for catching a sunset.
2. Explore Castelvecchio Museum
Castelvecchio was a fortress built to protect the Palace of Cangrande II of the Scaliger family. On the left side of the castle is the gatehouse entrance for the Castelvecchio bridge. On the other side is the Arco Dei Gavi, an arched gate built in the 1st century AD by the Romans. There is an entrance fee for the castle museum exhibitions where you can learn more about the castle’s history and artifacts from its construction in 1354.
Don’t miss the beautiful San Zeno Maggiore Church, a kilometer from the Castelvecchio Castle. It is one of the oldest churches in Italy. It is also, the place where Romeo married Juliette secretly in the crypt – rather a setting in the epic Shakespearean play.
3. Walkthrough Porta Dei Borsari
City gates can be impressive with their size, height, and adornment. Usually, there is one entrance. However, when you pass through the former entrance of Verona, Porta Dei Borsari, you are taken back to Roman times.
Porta dei Borsari, built in the 1st century AD, is unusual. It is high and made with limestone block, but built with two floors, 12 arch windows, and two arch entrances. To get the best view of this impressive structure, walkthrough towards Verona Cathedral and turn around.
4. Go inside the Verona Cathedral
Many early medieval buildings of the city destroyed in the 1117 earthquake. So it’s why Verona Cathedral constructed on the site of two previous paleo Christian basilicas.
Known also as Duomo di Verona, the Cathedral is an expansive stone cathedral, built in Romanesque style. The west front entrance shows the thickness of the cathedral walls, the large double porch, and the beautiful detail carved into limestone rock. The Verona Cathedral complex also includes Santa Elena church, the Canon’s cloister, the baptistry of San Giovanni in Fonte, and the Capitular library. The library is one of the oldest in the world, from the 5th century.
The interior is just as impressive with its large central nave and side chapels. Look for the massive gold organ to the right of the main altar. And for gifts not made of gold, try Piazza delle Erbe.
5. Find Gifts and More at Piazza delle Erbe
When you enter the Piazza delle Erbe (Square of Herbs), you are walking into the ancient Roman Forum of Verona. One of the busiest piazzas of Verona, Piazza delle Erbe, will have your head spinning as you look up at the buildings surrounding this square, well actually a rectangle.
Torre dei Lamberti at 84 meters has panoramic views of Verona. Frescoes of Case Mazzanti, recognized by its green shutters. Busy cafes, restaurants and souvenir stalls. At one end of the Piazza is the fountain ‘Fontana Madonna Verona’ with a sculpture of Madonna Verona, which dates to 380AD. The other end, a 14th-century column with the Virgin and Saints Peter, Christopher, and Zeno. Even the local guild merchants, Domus Mercatorum building is here. One of our favorites. If you arrive before 9 am, you have time to take photos before the central market, just like Piazza dei Signori nearby.
6. Look around Piazza dei Signori
Fabulous architecture greets you when you enter the Piazza dei Signori. It is sometimes referred to as Piazza Dante because of the statue of Dante Alighieri, a famous Italian poet who wrote Divine Comedy. When Cangrande from the ruling Scaliger family of the 13th-14th century, hosted writers and artists at Palazzo del Podesta, Dante was often a guest.
Palazzo del Podesta is one of the buildings surrounding the square with its portal looking very similar to Arco dei Gavi. Behind the statue of Dante, Loggia del Consiglio is another impressive building with its arched columns and statues adorning its roof. And so are the two medieval courtyards leading off the Piazza – the Mercato Vecchio (Courtyard of the Old Market) with its Stairs of Reason to enter the Modern Art Gallery of Verona. The other is the Palazzo del Capitanio with the Porta Bombardiera built-in 1687. Then around the corner from the Piazza dei Signori are five impressive Scaliger tombs.
7. Lookup for the Scaliger Tombs
What makes the Scaliger Tombs a talking point is the ornate gothic style of each tomb with its statue of the deceased above. The tombs are Scaliger family members Cangrande I, Mastino II, Cansignorio, Alberto II, and Giovanni placed high up above the ground. The tombs enclosed within iron gates outside the Church of Santa Maria Antica. The Della Scala family (also known as Scaligeri or Scaligers) ruled Verona and Veneto from the 13th-14th century.
8. Romeo, Romeo – Juliet Calls from the Balcony
Even if you’re not a fan of Shakespeare, Juliet’s balcony of Shakespeare’s tragedy is a popular place to visit in Verona. The courtyard Casa di Giulietta, in the summer months, is busy with people posting love notes, having a photo with Juliet’s statue, or queuing for a place on the balcony. You can pay for a ticket to re-enact your own Romeo/Juliet experience on the balcony. What a great memory of your holiday that would be. The buzzy and uplifting atmosphere is giving you the courage to perform.
We could easily have spent longer here, watching people having fun in this small courtyard. That’s another reason Casa di Giulietta is a must-see when you are in Verona.
9. Walk over the Ponte Pietra
The other famous bridge of the city is Ponte Pietra. A stone arch bridge, the oldest bridge in Verona, was built by the Romans in 100BC. The bridge was used to access the Roman Theatre now part of the Civic Archaeological Museum. Today it is a pedestrian bridge, and walking up to the middle of the bridge, you have a perfect spot for photos. You’ll have views along the river, Verona old town, and Castel San Pietro.
10. Travel up to Castel San Pietro
From Ponte Pietra, Castel San Pietro (Castle of Saint Peter) looks down on you. Hidden behind the row of conifer trees, where there was a once a church dedicated to St Peter, a castle was built during the 1300s to fortify Verona. If you don’t fancy a steep walk up the hill for a closer look, take the funicular up for panoramic views of the Verona and Ponte Pietra.
11. Step back in time at Verona Arena
One of the iconic things to see in Verona is the pink-tinged marble Arena built in the 1st century AD. During summer months, the Roman Arena, with its capacity for 30,000, comes alive for the summer opera festival. But if opera is not your thing, then Piazza Bra around the Arena is full of energy as people enjoy one of the many cafes and restaurants before or after a concert. Make sure to look for the pink marble pavement, which was also used to build the Arena and the interior columns of Verona Cathedral.
Look at the other buildings in Piazza Bra, in particular, the 13 arches of the Palazzo della Gran Guardia and the Palazzo Beriberi. And during the summer heat, you can escape for shade in the nearby garden.
12. Enjoy Verona At Night
Wandering through Verona’s old town at night with a tasty gelato gives you a new perspective on this ancient Roman city. Take in a sunset on Castelvecchio bridge, admire the lights of the Verona Arena and wander across the ancient Ponte Pietra. Enjoy shopping along Via Mazzini or find a table at Piazza Bra or Piazza delle Erbe for delicious pasta and red wine.
So, are you tempted: Is Verona worth a Visit? Just over an hour from Venice, is an ideal stop on your tour of Italy. With a pedestrian-friendly area full of historic buildings, ancient sites, and Roman ruins, this is a fantastic city to explore. Whether you decide to spend a day or three days, staying in one of the boutique hotels in the old city is perfect. In fact, if you are staying over in the city, make sure you keep aside a day or so for one of the many day trips from Verona. Consider the list below for the Verona day trips. You can, in fact, use the links given to book one online.
- Lake Garda –Book this half-day tour to the largest lake of Italy. Explore the small town or Sirmione by the lake and also, enjoy a boat ride along the lake.
- Amarone Wine Tasting tour – You can explore the Italian vineyards and get a taste of the famous Amarone wines while enjoying the lush green countryside. Click through this link to book your wine tasting tour in the Valpolicella Valley
- Chapel of Madonna della Corona – This is a delight for hikers and history lovers. Set atop a mountain, this 16th-century church promises a generous dose of architectural beauty along with breath-taking views of the valley below.
We are sure that you are convinced to add Verona to your list of must-visit places in Italy. So go on and pin this.
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This post and its images have been contributed by my guest authors - Terry and Maura. Terry and Maura (TravelKiwis) left the corporate life at 50 to have a lifestyle of Slow Travel. Currently based in Europe, they travel extensively seeking out lesser-known places to stay and mingle with the locals, making friendships along the way. They hope to inspire you to realize you can travel often, stay longer and experience more when you Slow Travel.