Top Things to do in Verona
Romance, politics, passion, drama – they all come as second nature to Verona. No wonder countless writers and storytellers have revolved their tales around this historic Italian city. You’ll be pleased to know that we collaborated with Henry at Berridale Travel to tell you about the history of this beautiful city along with the top things to do in Verona.
Life in Verona started way back in the 3rd century BC. It first emerged as a major trade centre for the Romans and was home to a large arena, which surprisingly is still known to be one of the best opera venues in the world. After the decline of the Roman Era, Verona fell under the influence of the Scaligeri, famous for their devotion to art and culture. The city saw a number of changes at its helm until a shift in power finally put it under the control of Napoleon in the year 1797. It later emerged as a Fascist control centre, which was one of the key locations for breaking the renaissance movement. Eventually, the city once again changed its identity after the war, as it struggled to come to terms with the new world. However, true to its chameleon-like nature, it once again perfectly adapted to the new rules and emerged as a major international centre, while keeping its status as one of the top World Heritage Sites.
Today, the city is as famous as the home of Romeo and Juliet as for the iconic Roman Arena, which has been hosting shows and operas for centuries. Located in the north-eastern region of Italy, the city is truly magnificent, as well as one of the most ancient corners of Veneto. It’s surreal location between Lake Garda and Rover Adige ensures that there is no shortage of natural beauty, and the countless attractions, shops and cafes and always offers more than you can possibly see or do. Verona is one of the best cities to visit in Italy as it has a great history and lots of sites but without the crowds in better known cities. For those lucky enough to visit, we have selected our favourite things to do in Verona.
Piazza delle Erbe, Verona
The Piazza delle Erbe is way up there in the list of things to do in Verona. It is an ancient Roman structure that was once famous as a Roman Forum, but now hosts a number of medieval-era buildings, several shops, a fruit and vegetable market and all sorts of street artists. It isn’t short on historic attractions such as the Madonna Verona fountain (1368) or the Arco della Costa, but what makes this square so famous is that it is one of the best places to people-watch and experience Verona’s culture. The ideal time to visit Piazza delle Erbe is during the weekends, when the locals gather here to enjoy an aperitif.
Roman Arena, Verona
The Roman Arena, also known as the Arena, is one of the most popular symbols of Verona. The arena was built way back in the 1st century, and like most other ancient amphitheatres around the world, it has laid witness to countless gladiator battles. The gladiators may have thankfully vanished over time, but the arena’s popularity hasn’t dimmed one bit. It may not be able to host those gory spectacles anymore, but it still plays host to some great operas and musicals. The arena’s structure has been created using red marble and bricks to bring about a unique chromatic effect, and its centre stage manages to give it a sense of grandeur and magnificence.
Casa di Giulietta, Verona
Casa di Guilietta, also known as Juliet’s Balcony, is a must-see for any romantic visiting the city. It really doesn’t matter that Romeo and Juliet were figments of Shakespeare’s imagination, because Verona is one of those cities where imagination merges with reality to create a fantasy-like atmosphere. Romantics believe that if there was a real life Juliet, this 14th century balcony is where she would be seen. The courtyard also features a bronze statue representing Juliet to celebrate one of the most famous love scenes from the world of literature. Other highlights of the Casa di Giulietta are its breath-taking façade and the Gothic front door.
Castelvecchio, which simply means Old Castle, was built by the family that controlled Verona in the Middle Ages. The castle was built in the 14th Century in a distinctive gothic style. One of the most notable elements is the heavily fortified bridge that was originally designed as a means of escape for the ruling family in case of rebellion. Over the years the castle has been attacked many times, including during the Napoleonic Wars, and was damaged during WWII. The castle is thought to have been built on the site of an old Roman fort.
Lake Garda is a little over an hours’ drive from Verona but is absolutely worth the journey. Set against the Dolomite Mountains, Garda is the largest lake in Italy and its’ most iconic. The shoreline of the lake is dotted with traditional Italian towns and villages separated by sloped forest that provides a dramatic backdrop.
The lake is over 30 miles long and the best way to explore it is by boat – there are numerous options for this, from public ferries to private charters. You can stop off at some of the beautiful towns around the lake, highlights included the 13th Century town of Sirmione, or the small fishing town of Torri del Benaco.
The spring and summer seasons are certainly the best times to visit Verona, because there’s the popular Roman Theatre Season and the Opera Season to experience. You may also enjoy a trip to the city in the winter months, particularly during the Christmas holidays, when the weather is nice and the Christmas spirit makes you feel as if you’ve really managed to travel back to old-world Europe.
Henry works at Berridale Travel, a bespoke luxury travel company. He has spent a lot of time travelling around Italy, with a particular focus on smaller cities that played key roles in the Medieval and Renaissance periods.
Did we miss anything in our list of ‘Top Things to do in Verona, Italy’? if so, share your top tips and best experiences in the comments below.