Romantic, and beautifully preserved, Verona is a UNESCO World Heritage City and one of the most sought-after destinations in Italy.
It was once a Roman colony, was conquered by the Goths, and was the site of several battles. The French, under Napoleon, occupied the city, as did the Austrians.
Verano has also been featured in literature. It was the setting for three of Shakespeare’s plays – Romeo & Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Taming of the Shrew, and was also mentioned by Goethe and Stendhal.
All this has given Verona a colorful history, making this city of just under 80 square miles, a walking museum of cathedrals, monuments, and architectural gems from Ancient Rome, the Middle Age, Scaliger and Austrian periods.
A bustling center for the arts, Verona hosts an opera festival and classical music concerts year round.
And from its location in the Veneto region, one of the most prestigious producers of wine in Italy, the city offers food and wine lovers an enogastronomic experience.
If you’re planning to visit Verona, here are the top things to see and do:
- Verona Arena – Every night from June to September, 14,000 opera lovers flock to the opera festival at the Verona Arena. Built by the Romans in about 30 AD, of pink marble, the Arena is a World Heritage Site. Its excellent acoustics make microphones unnecessary. Although the schedule changes each year, Aida is always performed. Worth a visit even if you’re not an opera lover.
- During the Roman Empire, Piazza delle Erbe was Verona’s forum. From here you can see the ancient town hall, the Casa dei Giudici, the Palazzo Maffei, the Casa dei Mercanti, the Lamberti Tower, and other historic buildings.
- In addition to being the location of the monument to Dante, Piazza dei Signori is surrounded by buildings and monuments of significant historical importance, like the City Hall, the Loggia of the Council, and the palace of the government.
- The Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore is dedicated to Saint Zeno, who was born around 300 in North Africa. The basilica is also said to be the place where Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet were married.
- Juliet’s Balcony, house and statue - The most popular travel site in Verona, Juliet’s balcony overlooks a courtyard where a statue in her honor can be found. The balcony is a 20th century addition but that doesn’t seem to turn away visitors who flock there to pay tribute to the lovers. Rub the breast on her statue for good luck.
- Located in the Piazza delle Erbe is the 83-meter high Lamberti Tower, which was built to watch over Verona and to warn of attacks by the Venetians. It dates to the 12thcentury.
- The Duomo di Verona is a cathedral that was erected following earthquakes that destroyed two other churches on the same site. It was consecrated in 1187.
- Castelvecchio and the Scaligero Bridge – This castle was built by the powerful Lord Cangrande II della Scala to deter against attack by the Venetians. The fortified Scaligero Bridge nearby was built over the River Adige to facilitate escape.
- Giardino Giusti is named after the family who has tended the mansion and gardens since it opened to the public in 1591. Check out this oasis of beauty that also offers breathtaking views of the city.
No trip in Verona would be complete however without a tour of the vineyards that produce Soave (white), Valpolicella (red), Bardolino (red of Lake Garda), Amarone (red) and Prosecco. If you don’t have time for a tour, be sure to check out some of the wine bars or enoteche that serve local wines.
So what’s the best time to visit? Verona has four distinct seasons but spring and summer offer the most activities.
Where to Stay? Since the city is small, look for residences in Verona that are easily accessible to its center.
Verona is easily accessible from North America and all major European cities by car, bus, train or plane.
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