Verona is one of those cities in Italy that are easily overlooked by travellers. Despite its fame as the city of Romeo and Juliet, tourists often favour places like Rome, Florence and Venice.
Verona was the first city I visited on this trip to Italy and I had no idea what to expect. So when I walked into the city, I was completely blown away! Verona is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and deserves a spot on everyone’s travel bucket list. It is a gorgeous city architecturally, but it also has a lively atmosphere, fantastic food and lots to do.
Here are few highlights you absolutely can’t miss on your trip to Verona:
1. Romeo and Juliet
I’ll be honest, I was under the impression that Shakespeare had made up the story of Romeo and Juliet. But in fact, he wasn’t even the first person to tell their story. The tragic tale of young love was initially written by Masuccio Salernitano and set in Siena rather than Verona and he supposedly based it on true events. Shakespeare borrowed heavily from this original tale and moved it to include the families of Capuleti and Montecchi of Verona. The palaces of these two great families of Verona still stand today. Juliet’s house is the most famous of the two and especially crawling with tourists trying to see the legendary balcony. The house is now a museum and visitors can enter the balcony. The walls of the little alleyway leading into the courtyard are scribbled with messages of love from visitors from all over the world.
2. Walk around
The best way to explore Verona is on foot. The historic city is small and pedestrian friendly with lots of hidden gems. So walk around and go into the little side streets to find all of Verona’s hidden gems. If you also want to know more about the history of the city, join the excellent Free Walking Tour that departs at 10.30 every day from in front of the McDonalds.
3. Climb the hill
The literal highlight of Verona is the hill on the east side of the river. On top of the hill lies Castel San Pietro, which provides a spectacular view over the city. At the foot of the hill, you find the remnants of the Roman Theater.
4. Attend the Opera
As you walk into the city centre of Verona, you are immediately greeted by the Arena. This old Roman Theater looks like a small version of the Colosseum. It has held impressively against the destructive forces of time and is in fact, still in use as an Opera House. It seats 3000 people, the population of Verona in Roman times. Due to its small size, set pieces are stored outside at the back of the Arena. For a night out you cannot miss in in Verona, reserve seats for the Opera, dress up and wait in line to be seated in this unique venue. Tickets are actually quite affordable, starting at 25 euro for non-numbered seats at the top of the Arena.
Castelvecchio literally means Old Castle and it used to be the home of the rulers of Verona. In 1924 it was opened as a museum showcasing Roman and Medieval sculptures and paintings. In 2015 some of the paintings were stolen during an armed heist, but all were recovered in 2016. The bridge behind the castle offers a lovely view of the Adige river.