Shakespeare chose Verona as the setting of his most famous play Romeo and Juliet. Not a bad choice as this small city is known for the value and importance of its historical buildings. Most people visit Verona as a quick side trip when they go to other cities such as Venice, Padova or Ravenna which seems a bit unfair taking into account the amount of Roman, Medieval and Renaissance monuments that the city has. Verona is also well connected. It’s got its own airport and it can be easily reached by train from other Italian cities. We decided to go from Bologna (another place I should write about soon!) and in about one hour we arrived on a hot summer day in Verona!
Why should you visit? Here is why…
Verona has Roman edifices. The Arena is a Roman amphitheatre situated in the Piazza Bra. It was completed in the 30 AD and it is one of the largest in the world.You can visit the building for about 10 euros but you can also enjoy different operas and shows which tend to be very affordable. The only problem when we visited was the heat. Watching an opera with no shade and whith 39 degrees outside…not pleasant!
The Porta Borsari is a well preserved 3rd century gate which was part of the original city walls.
The Porta Leoni is a ruin from the 1st century BC than can be seen as an open archeological site.
The Castel Vecchio Bridge or Ponte Scaligero is another landmark in Verona. Its red brick makes it very unique. It was finished in the 14th century but it was destroyed in 1945. Nowadays you can see a faithful reconstruction.
Verona’s narrow streets lead you to impressive squares, the most important one being la Piazza delle Erbe. It is the place where the Romans built their forum. Nowadays there is a market where you can try local food and buy souvenirs. There are also lots of restaurants where you can try the specialties of the region.
Not so interesting but anecdotic is Juliet’s balcony. In my opinion it is just a tourist trap as Juliet was a fictional character but if you are in the area in doesn´t hurt to go and have a look at it as the house is quite beautiful!
The Ponte Pietra crosses the Adige river offering you some incredible views of the Duomo and the Castel San Pietro. The bridge was completed in 100 BC and gives you access to the Roman theatre (unfortunately closed when we visited).
Also, this bridge will lead you the already mentioned Castel San Pietro where you will get the best panoramic view of Verona. Make sure you walk up the hill because all the effort will be compensated with a beautiful contemplation of the city.
There are many other squares like Piazza dei Signori and hundreds of churches and basilicas worth visiting but if I mentioned them all I would spend days writing. Verona invites you to go for a stroll and discover all this treasures without a map. Two days should be enough to explore it but you can always stay longer and enjoy its amazing local food and the best drink from Northern Italy…the spritz!