Verona – a charming city in north-eastern Italy and one of the most beautiful cities in the country. With its 260,000 inhabitants, Verona is the capital city of a province of the same name in the region of Venice. Only about 30 kilometers from the popular Lake Garda, which lies in the western half of the province, Verona is visited by large numbers of tourists from around the world. It’s no surprise since this city has quite a few sights to offer. For all who have not yet visited or are wanting to go to Verona, I’ve put together a couple of interesting facts!
Arriving in Verona
Many tourists visiting Venice use this opportunity to travel to Verona, which only about 100 km away. But numerous other visitors, mainly from Europe, come here just to visit this fascinating city in north-eastern Italy. This place can be reached easily by many different routes. Verona’s airport, the Aeropporto di Verona-Villafranca (also called the Valerio Catullo Airport), can be reached by flights from Dublin and Shannon. Should you arrive via the airport, you can take the Aerobus towards the city centre. Between 6am and 11pm the bus stops here every 20 minutes and the journey is about 15 minutes long. There’s also a whole load of taxis and rental car stands.
Exploring Verona’s attractions on foot
Those of you who have been to Verona already probably noticed quite early on that the city can comfortably be explored on foot. It literally invites you to take a stroll along all the most important sights of the city and impresses with its historic buildings, beautiful squares as well as magnificent churches and museums.
The arena on Piazza Brà
Verona has something to suit every taste: from exciting history, art, and even religion. Starting at the Piazza Brà, which is regarded as the foyer of Verona, you’ll first notice the magnificent Verona Arena, a landmark of the city. The Verona Arena is a well preserved Roman amphitheatre, built in around 30AD. It’s the third biggest amphitheatre in Italy and is often regarded as Verona’s main attraction. Every year opera festivals, concerts as well as theatre plays are organised there. The impressive Roman amphitheatre can fit around 20,000 visitors. Alongside the arena you can also marvel at the Palazzo Baribieri, the Verona city hall and various beautiful townhouses from 16th to 18th century.
Romeo and Juliet
Verona is also known as the city of lovers, among other things. And there’s a good reason. After the Verona Arena, the starting point for many tourists, many follow the famous shopping street Via Mazzini up to Via Cappello, where you have to turn right and pass underneath an archway to the famous House of Juliet. This famous house, called Casa di Giulietta in Italian, is also one of the main attractions of Verona and every year it attracts a load of tourists, eager to admire the supposed setting of Romeo and Juliet’s tragic love story. Couples of all ages come here to swear eternal faithfulness to each other, inspired by the story of Romeo and Juliet, and write down love oaths to fix on the wall – whether it’s on a piece of paper or a chewing gum wrapper. Another highlight is the bronze statue of Juliet. A huge queue is often lined in front of the famous statue since almost every visitor wants to be photographed with it. Plus stroking the right breast is supposed to bring luck.
The bronze statue of Julia, the famous balcony of the inner courtyard and the myriad of love proclamations on the wall – all of this makes the setting of Shakespeare’s play so extraordinary, even if the main characters never really existed and William Shakespeare never visited it once in his life. It’s simply an attraction that you have to see when you visit Verona.
Squares, churches and museums
During a casual walk, a visit to the picturesque Piazza delle Erbe with its artistic, historic façades is also an absolute must. It was once a significant gathering place as well as a location of economic and political debates. Even today it’s a place of lively activities. The Piazza delle Erbe is the central market square of Verona and attracts many tourists with its impressive monuments. Some examples of these sights are the baroque buildings such as Palazzo Maffei and Torre del Gardello built in 14th century. Additionally, the viewing platform of Torre Lamberti town hall is very popular and visitors can catch a magnificent view of Verona from up there.
Once there, you might as well check out the nearby Piazza del Sigiori with the impressive government palace and the statue of Dante Alighieri perched in the middle of the square. Immediately next to Piazza del Sigiori is the Santa Maria Antica church, built in 8th century. To the west of the church, a bit secluded from the hustle and bustle and about 25 minutes away, you’ll find the renowned Basilika San Zeno Maggiore. It’s all about the very significant Romanesque church here, which is regarded as one of the masterpieces of Roman art in Italy. Two more ecclesiastical buildings worth visiting can be found near the basilica – these are the Chiesa di San Lorenzo and the Chiesa San Bernardino. Alongside numerous churches and palaces the city has one more highlight, the Ponte Pietra. It’s used by many on their way from the Old Town to the Roman theatre. This fortified bridge crosses the Adige River – with 415 km it’s the second largest river in Italy – and from it you’ll have a wonderful view of the Adige and a part of the city. But Verona has something to offer the passionate museum frequenters too. For example, you can visit the Museo di Castelveccio, a former medieval castle and one of the most important museums in the city, or the Museo dei Fossili di Bolca. One more interesting museum, which is not yet fully completed, is the Areno Museo Opera, devoted to the opera. Since 2012 you can learn more about the nearly 100 years old history of the famous opera festivals in Verona here. As you can see, Verona has a lot more to offer than just the famous Casa di Giulietta.
Stroll, shop and enjoy
If you’re looking for a diversion from all the sightseeing, I recommend taking a stroll along the famous shopping street Via Mazzini. You’ll find it between Piazza Brà and Piazza delle Erbe and it’s lined with Italian boutiques as well as other tempting shops. It’s Verona’s largest pedestrian zone and at the same time the busiest street in the city. Here you can not only check out one shop after another but also visit one or two great restaurants. Shopping combined with relaxation and enjoyment in between – that’s what I’d recommend. And if you haggle in expensive Italian brand shops for a bit, you might come accross some generous shopping opportunities. I think the ladies among you will be especially excited. :)
Culinary Verona: enjoying Italian delicacies
A lot of sightseeing can make you hungry. And what could be more appropriate than a typical Italian meal? In other words, if you’re there, you just have to try the delicacies of Verona. Some examples include the famous gnocci, small Italian potato dumplings which are also quite well known in our country. They’re served with various sauces. Another traditional dish is polenta, often served with sauce and game or with cheese for vegetarians. Also popular is the bean soup with pasta or the classic meat dish brasato di manzo all’amanore – beef sautéed in wine. But what would a delicious meal in Italy be without a glass of wine to go with it? There are some wine press houses near Verona and it’s here, as in all of Italy actually, that most of the vine is ordered. If you want to test the culinary delicacies yourself, you’ll strike it rich at the Piazza delle Erbe or directly opposite Castelvecchio Museum. The latter is especially attractive with a small old-fashioned restaurant where many traditional dishes are served. The Piazza Brà is also known for its attractive restaurants, which are a bit more costly but definitely worth a visit. Of course you can also order some typical Italian pizza or pasta dishes here. If you want to combine your restaurant visit with a couple of cocktails in the evening, the slightly out-of-town Berfi’s Club is the place for you – it’s a restaurant and a disco all in one. Generally you can meet over a glass of wine during the day in Verona, though there are of course various bars and clubs for the old and the young, which are sometimes slightly outside the city. In the summer, the night owls meet outside on one of the squares and from there go to one of the bars. I find that there’s something to suit every taste here!
Since you probably want to explore most of the sights from the inside as well and experience more, I recommend that you equip yourself in a Verona Card. Thanks to this card you’ll gain not only reductions, but also a free entry into more sights. There are two different options: the €15 Verona Card, valid for 24 hours, as well as a €20 Verona Card which is valid for a whole 72 hours. You can use the card to explore actual sights, for example memorials, churches, museums as well as some hotels and tobacco shops. The tourist attractions which you can explore for free with the card include the Anfiteatro Arena, Basilica di San Zeno, Casa di Giulietta, Chiesa di San Ferno, Museo Castelvecchio and also Torre dei Lamberti. You’ll get a reduced entry fee in Museo Africano as well as Arena Museo Opera for example. Additionally you can also use the public transport operated by ATV. You’ll find more information here.
Numerous impressive monuments await you both inside and outside Verona. Whether it’s a church, a museum or one of many beautiful squares, you can experience it all yourself. Feeling the wanderlust yet!?
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