Verona is a medieval city in Northern Italy, well-known for being the setting of Shakespeare’s most famous play, Romeo and Juliet. It is also home to the third largest amphitheater in Italy, suitably named the Verona Arena. My family visited Verona almost two years ago, and we stayed for only a day. Despite the fact that Verona does get quite a decent amount of tourists each year (apparently over a million), I would still consider it a “hidden gem”/overlooked because it deserves much more attention than what it gets! In my post today I will be guiding you through Verona, informing you on everything about the city, from must-see attractions to where to stay during your visit.
We came to Verona from Venice, the nearest major city to Verona, only about an hour’s drive away. If you’re planning on coming to Verona from Venice (or any major city for that matter), I would recommend taking advantage of Italy’s great train system, which can get you to and from one point in Italy to the next in a fast time and for a good price.
As for transportation within Verona, you won’t really need this since Verona is a very walkable city and most of its main sites are within walking distance of one another. Although, if you are staying outside of the city centre or if you are planning to go somewhere a bit farther from the centre, Verona has a very reliable bus system. You can buy tickets for the bus at the main bus station, located in front of the train station, or at kiosks which can be found all throughout the city. Bus stops can also be found all throughout Verona, and they are in operation almost all day. All city buses are now run by a company called ATV, which you can check out here.
For accommodation we stayed at the Corte Ongaro Hotel, a five minute drive from Verona’s main train station. It is a really great hotel for anyone planning on visit Verona, and you should definitely look into staying there. The staff were very kind and the rooms were also very nice. However, the hotel is about a 40 minute walk from most of the city’s main attractions, but thanks to Verona’s bus system (mentioned above) we were able to easily get to and from the city centre.
A great place to start your adventure throughout Verona is the Piazza Bra. It is largest plaza in the city, and possibly (?) the largest in its country. This plaza can get quite crowded at times, yet due to its large size it won’t easily get overcrowded. Piazza Bra is home to many restaurants, cafes, and bars, and it is a great place to stop for a meal.
The Piazza Bra has a lot surrounding it, and it will easily keep you busy for hours. On the south side of the square you will find the Barbieri Palace, Verona’s town hall. On the north side you will find all the restaurants and shops I was mentioning earlier. On its west side you will find the entrance to the plaza, called the Portoni Della Bra, as well as the interesting Gran Guardia Palace, a palace built in two different eras. Finally, on the east side you will find the most well known building in all of Verona, the Arena!
Arena di Verona / Verona Arena:
Next up, the Verona Arena! The Verona Arena was built in the first century, and it is actually older than Colosseum in Rome. Back in ancient times, the arena could hold up to 30,000 people, however it now holds a maximum of 15,000 at a time. Verona’s Arena is still in use, and it holds massive concerts from popular artists of today. The most famous event held in the arena is the yearly Arena Opera Festival, which hosts some of the most famous and popular operas in the world.
Here is a closer look at the stage of the arena. This is the stage any artists coming to the arena would perform on.
The arena was definitely my favourite place we visited in Verona, because I thought it was very impressive how well the arena has been preserved over the thousands of years it has existed. I didn’t see any concerts or performances in the arena (although it would’ve been cool to do so) but I still found it really fun to explore the arena myself and climb up the steps. It also wasn’t at all crowded when we came, so I guess we were lucky!
Piazza Delle Erbe:
Another well known plaza in Verona is the Piazza Delle Erbe, just a 10 minute walk from Piazza Bra. This plaza, however, is slightly different from the last one. Everyday, a market is set up in the plaza, which attracts both tourists as well as locals. At this market is where you will find any souvenirs you’d like to purchase while in Verona, and many other interesting pieces.
Many side streets and alleys throughout Verona lead to the plaza, so there are no excuses for not visiting on a trip to the city. As is the case with Piazza Bra, there are many restaurants and shops lining the plaza. The buildings surrounding the main market are also stunning, one in particular being the Torre dei Lambertei!
Torre dei Lambertei / Lambertei Tower:
The Torre dei Lamberte is the tallest tower in Verona, towering over the city at 84 meters (275 feet) tall. There is an €8 fee to climb up (or take the elevator) to the top of the tower, where you are met with stunning views over the city. Unfortunately, my family wasn’t able to reach the top of the tower, though I do really wish we had been able to. If you have the time, definitely make sure to go to the top!
Casa di Giulietta / Juliet’s Balcony:
Down the street from the Piazza Erbe and the Torre dei Lamberti, you will find possibly the most touristy place in Verona, Juliet’s Balcony! Also known as Casa di Giulietta, Juliet’s home, here is where you will find the supposed home of the famous Juliet from Romeo and Juliet. In the square you will find a statue of Juliet (which is said to give you good luck if you touch her breast), and of course the famous balcony.
Yes, the story is fiction, and yes, this isn’t her actual home, but it is a beautiful balcony in the city that was said to inspire the famous Shakespeare play. As I mentioned earlier, the area is extremely touristy, which you can see from the immense amount of people in the small square. Many people say it’s not worth visiting, but as it is free, I myself would go just to say I’ve been. Just make sure not to get your hopes up too high as the balcony and square really isn’t too special.
Ponte Pietra / Stone Bridge:
Just a ten minute walk away from the Piazza delle Erbe, you will find the most famous of the many bridges in Verona, the Ponte Pietro (Stone Bridge in English). These bridges connect both sections of Verona, divided by the Adige River, the second longest river in Italy. It is one of the most charming and oldest bridge in Verona, and is definitely worth a visit.
Here’s a photo of the view from Ponte Pietro, which shows San Giorgio in Braida, a Roman Catholic Church.
Castel San Pietro:
Across the Ponte Pietro you will find the Castel San Pietro. This is the exact location that the city of Verona was founded, atop a hill overlooking the city. The Castel San Pietro is not open to the public, due to its bad condition, so you cannot go inside it. You can, though, hike up the hill to see a remarkable view over Verona.
Castel Vecchio / Old Castle:
Castle Vecchio (Old Castle in English) is a small yet important castle located in Verona. It is a 20 minute walk down the Adige River (with beautiful scenery, by the way) from the Ponte Pietro. The castle was first built by a Lord of Verona, back in the 14th century. Castle Vecchio is now home to a museum (with a €6 entry fee) filled with paintings, sculptures, and many other pieces of art. Sadly my family didn’t get to actually go into Castle Vecchio, but we did get to visit the outside of it.
Ponte di Castelvecchio / Bridge of Castlevecchio / Ponte Scaligero:
The Castle Vecchio Bridge, aptly named after the castle it is next to, is one of many bridges in Verona. I thought the bridge was really interesitng because when I was walking across I really felt like I was transported back into medieval times. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of what the bridge looks like when walking across it, but I can assure you it is really beautiful!
That’s all for my guide to Verona. I hope that this was interesting to you, or, if you’re planning on visiting Verona anytime soon, helpful! Have any of you been to Verona? If so, let me know what your favourite place you visited there was. Leave me a comment below letting me know 🙂
Thanks for reading!