The city of Verona is rich of Roman antiquities (the city is also known as little Rome), nevertheless it is mostly famous as the setting of the love story Romeo and Juliet.
The symbol of the city is the great Roman Arena (Arena di Verona). Located in the biggest square, Bra Square, this Roman amphitheater dates back to the 1st Century AD and is the third largest of the world. Extremely well-preserved and every year it still hosts concerts and operas between July and August.
Juliet’s House with its Balcony is a must-see. It is a mystery if this house has ever belonged to a Capulet family, nonetheless this lack of evidence only increases its romance and attraction. A short distance away you can also visit Juliet’s Tomb.
The oldest square of the city is Piazza delle Erbe (Square of the Herbs) former Roman city’s forum which still maintains a lively atmosphere. On one side of the square, a Venetian lion stands on a column as an everlasting reminder of Venice supremacy and influence over Verona. In the square the medieval Torre dei Lamberti (Lamberti’s Tower) is also located. Close by is situated Piazza dei Signori (Lords’ Square) which used to be an important center for politics and administration, nowadays especially at night, it is a lively students’ meeting point.
Castelvecchio (Old castle) which was both a residence and a fortress, built by the Scaligeri’s family who ruled the city between the 1262 and 1387, is nowadays a museum. Outside the fortress the Castelvecchio or Scaligeri Bridge crosses the river Adige.
Relevant and worth a visit are also Arche Scaligere (Scaligeri Tombs), located in a small court of the Church of Santa Maria Antica, are outstanding example of Gothic art: these tombs are encircled by wrought-iron fences.
Nearby the Pietra Bridge is located the Duomo (Cathedral), started in the 12th century, the construction lasted hundred years and encompasses gothic and roman style.
The biggest church of the city is the Basilica di Sant’Anastasia which has been built between the 13th and the 15th century therefore many artists have worked to its decoration, its facade is unfortunately incomplete. It represents a great example of gothic architecture, worthy of attention is also the Giusti Chapel with a fresco of Pisanello.
The Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore consecrated to the patron saint of the city presents a Roman style, its great Bell tower has been built between the 9th and 12th century. The rose window in the facade is decorated with statues depicting human sequences and it’s known as Ruota della Fortuna (Wheel of fortune). The main altar hosts a great Renaissance triptych of Andrea Mantegna.
Located inside the oldest city walls the Roman Theatre dates back to the 1st century AD, but has been discovered only in the 19th century, it includes a Roman museum and, such as the Roman Arena, it also hosts plays during the summer months. Nearby the marvelous renaissance garden Giardino Giusti is also located.
What/where to eat
Verona offers many small restaurants and places to stop for lunch to taste the local specialties, including potato gnocchi, the bolliti con la pearà, the pastisada de cavalo, the risotto con l’ Amarone and a wide range of excellent cured meats such as the soppressa and Venetian cheeses. To stay in the area near Piazza delle Erbe you can opt for:
La Bottega della Gina, where you can taste excellent fresh pasta in a home or even takeaway setting;
The Osteria Antica Verona, historical place where you can taste excellent Veronese specialties a few steps from the Adige;
Maffei restaurant, ideal if you want to have lunch in the suggestive setting of an 18th century building;
La Piazzetta Enoteca, a small restaurant-wine bar where you can also have lunch outdoors, with excellent Italian and Venetian dishes and a wide choice of vegan dishes.
Locanda di Castelvecchio. An ideal retro environment to taste the dishes of the Venetian cuisine, in particular the boiled meat.
12 Apostoli. A restaurant with a century-old history, one of the most famous in the city, which proposes the Venetian tradition revisited in a modern version in a dream location.
The Bottega del Vino. A historic shop, which has now become a delicious wine bar-restaurant, excellent for a complete dinner based on Veronese specialties or an aperitif with wine and “cicchetti”.
For a dessert or a coffee, we suggest you the Caffè Wallner or the Pasticceria Barini, which offer various sweet and savory dishes at moderate prices. In addition to the classic croissants, you can take advantage of them to try the typical Veronese sweets, such as the Russian cake (also called Verona cake), the risini, the “sfogliatine di Villafranca” and the “Sanvigilini”.
What/where to buy
Verona has a long artisan and gastronomic tradition that offers many ideas for shopping, for example:
1. Pandoro and other sweets. Verona is the city of Pandoro but there are also other specialties such as the Russian Cake or Torta di Verona, the Mandorlato, the Sanvigilini biscuits, etc. In the patisseries, including the well-known Pasticceria Cordioli, you will find many delights;
2. Wrought iron household items. The surroundings of the city are full of artisan shops where wrought iron is still worked with the techniques of the past;
3. Wines. The Veronese hills offer some of the best national wines, such as Bardolino and Amarone.
Verona is not only museums and historical attractions, but it is also a perfect destination for shopping. You will find shops of all kinds, from historical realities to contemporary stores, in particular concentrated along Viale Mazzini and Corso Borsari, but there are also large shopping centers outside the city. Among the shops that I recommend not to miss are:
Lazzari is a very famous brand in Italy and abroad for its 100% made in Italy and high quality clothing. The peculiarity of this brand is its history: it is still a small family business that has become a mini-chain where you can rediscover the atmospheres of the past thanks to a collection with a bon ton and romantic style. The shop is located in Piazza Erbe.
Drogheria Emaldi. Inaugurated in 1864, it is particularly striking for the atmosphere given by the original furnishings and utensils still present today, with the vintage vases that once housed products and medicines and today contain candies and spices. It stands on the opposite bank of the Adige, not too far from the Arena.
Fil Good. A shop with a modern style but where clothes and bags are handcrafted and also using very special fabrics. A stone’s throw from Piazza Brà.
Adigeo. A mega newly created shopping center located in the industrial area of the city, a short distance from the fair. Recommended if you are by car and it is easy to reach as it is located on the road that leads from the center to the highway exit.