The legendary city of Romeo and Juliet
While most people know Verona and know of Verona due to Shakespeare’s famous play – Romeo and Juliet, that’s set in Verona, this romantic city in the Veneto region – one of the two richest regions of Italy – has a lot more to offer. I’ve visited this city not just once but twice, however it’s charm and romantic appeal makes me want to visit it many more times in the coming years. Most tourists cover Verona as a day trip merely to visit the Juliet’s house, however, this city has many more interesting landmarks to offer, with something for everyone.
For the romantic souls – Casa di Giulietta or Juliet’s house and Castel St. Pietro:
Casa di Giulietta – the city is popularly known for the iconic Shakespearean play of Romeo and Juliet, that’s set in this city and depicting the story of the romance of two star crossed lovers from the rival families. The play is so popular that it has been adapted in various languages, cinemas and theatre around the world that I dare to state that there won’t be many people who don’t know the basic plot of this story. Thus, if your reason to visit Verona is your love for Shakespearean literature or because you’re a die-hard Romeo and Juliet fan or simply as a romantic soul in town for visiting The Juliet’s house, I’d like to share some things about this unmissable landmark of the town.
Juliet’s house is situated in the heart of Centro Storico – the old town of Verona. The best time to visit it would be in the morning, when the first fleet of day tourists haven’t yet arrived or have just arrived, i.e before 1000 A.M.. Do visit the official website for the latest opening hours and entry ticket prices – https://casadigiulietta.comune.verona.it/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=42703&tt=m_museo . Personally, seeing the walls of the house (for free) covered in poetries, prose, simple messages and declarations of love fascinated me more than seeing the interiors of the house (worth a nominal fee) and posing at the iconic Juliet’s balcony. However, I can imagine the fixation for that balcony pose for a die hard Romeo and Juliet’s fan. While leaving the house, it made me wonder how often these walls were being repainted to make way for new declarations of love that people in future would scribble about😉.
Castel St Pietro – this landmark is one that cannot be missed, whether you’re a romantic soul looking to surprise your partner with a nice date, or a hiker, or just looking for the best panoramic views in town – the castle has it all! It is located just outside the old town of Verona on the other side of the river. It can be reached by car, elevator or foot – for people who’d like to have an easy to moderate hike up and down the castle. The best part about the castle is the panoramic view of the river Adige, Ponte Pietro over it and the old town of Verona. The hike up and down the castle with a mat and a picnic box filled with bites and prosecco can make up for an ideal picnic or a date without having to pay through the nose for this charismatic experience. And then head over to one of the scenic spots atop the castle to enjoy the panoramic views while toasting your prosecco! Alternately if you’re willing to spend a bit, you can also reach the castle by car or by the elevator for a small fee and enjoy the panoramic views while brunching with your partner with a wine or prosecco at the terrace restaurant situated there. Feel free to mix and match these options based on your taste.
For the Roman history buffs and architecture lovers: Verona for you is like a kid in the candy shop.
Here’s why – Piazzas, Roman amphitheatres and tombs with gothic architecture – Verona is an architectural delight and a feast to the eyes!
Piazzas: Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza dei Signori, Piazza Bra
Verona Centro Storico has abundant piazzas – squares, which are a testimony to this statement. The piazzas, some of which are centuries old and stand strong even today, serve as the main meeting and shopping points of the town for the chatty Italians. It is here that the city comes to life, with locals looking to buy their weekly stock of fruits and vegetables or meeting up with their friends and family for an espresso or a fiesta. So head over to these piazzas to witness the magic of this city and experience it like a true local!
Piazza delle Erbe – the main piazza of the town, just a stone’s throw away from Casa di Giulietta, is dotted with many restaurants, cafes and gelaterias. So whether you want to sip on an espresso or a cafe latte to start your day, or have a hearty meal to get you going for the rest of the day or just a gelato while you stroll through this piazza to the quieter scenic nearby piazza – Piazza dei Signori, there’s no dirth of options. Just around the corner of Piazza dei Signori, is another landmark symbolizing the gothic architecture – the Scaliger Tombs or Arche Scaligere. This one’s worth a stop for the intricate carvings on the tombs.
Heading onto the next Piazza – Piazza Bra. This is a nice big square in the town where you can sip your coffee at one of the restaurants on the sides, or simply sit at a bench in the mini park while you watch people pass by, or to just catch a breath here before popping in the Arena di Verona.
Roman amphitheatres: Arena di Verona, Teatro Romano
Arena di Verona – is a Roman amphitheatre built in 30 AD. It is in use even today and is internationally famous for the large-scale opera performances given there! While in the ancient times, the arena was used for the classic Roman fights and performances, today it hosts concerts and performances all year round. In ancient times, the arena could host nearly 30,000 people. It is now open to public viewing during the day with a fee, even without the concerts. It’s worth a visit for its magnanimity, stark similarity to the Colosseum and for the Roman history and architecture lovers. This is also a bonus for the posers, as the arena receives much lesser footfall compared to the Colosseum at any given time of the year. So click away all the Instagram pictures to your heart’s content while you soak in the sun sitting at the steps inside the arena! Another Roman amphitheatre in town, situated at the foot of Castle St. Pietro is Teatro Romano. This is a rather small one, but worth a quick stop on your way back from the castle.
For seekers of panoramic views and Instagram worthy pictures – Castel St. Pietro, Torre dei Lamberti and Castelvecchio Bridge:
Torre dei Lamberti – this tower is Verona’s oldest medieval tower and the only such remaining in the Centro Storico now. It’s built by the Lamberti family, as used to be the case in Italy in the olden days, when such towers were built by aristocratic/ wealthy families to display their wealth and affluence in society. Today, this tower is accessible to the public for a nominal fee and offers captivating panoramic views of the old city centre. As this tower is overshadowed by other interesting landmarks of the city, it receives a fairly few number of visitors – thus making it worth a visit for the panoramic views of the town. Between Castle St. Pietro and Torre dei Lamberti, it’s tough to say which one has better views. My personal favourite though, is the castle.
Castelvecchio Bridge – this beautiful arched medieval bridge over the Adige river offers a wonderful rustic backdrop for that perfect #gram, as it receives relatively few number of visitors. And the cherry on the cake is it’s free access to the public! All in all, no reason to miss this one.
For the fashionistas, influencers and leisure lovers: via Giuseppe Mazzini and Giardino Giusti
Via Giuseppe Mazzini – whether you want to window shop or spend an entire day shopping here – this shopping street has brands ranging from H&M, Calzedonia, United Colors of Benetton to the higher end ones like Valentino, Gucci, Louis Vuitton etc., all nestled into one pedestrian street. Bonus – as you walk through this street, you’ll come across a fountain from where you may see people refilling their water bottles! Yes there’s a mini fountain on this street from where you can get free tap water which is healthy to drink! The street also happens to be the connecting street between Casa di Giulietta and Piazza Bra.
Giardino Giusti – is a well planned garden with some maze like lawns, lush greens and conifers. Visit this garden to take some nice pictures, enjoy a picnic or a leisurely stroll.
While I’m about to conclude this post, I’m wishing that this article has convinced you to not only visit Verona for a day trip but make it a stop to stay over and enjoy slowly. Thus I’ll sign off with some tips on how to reach Verona and where to stay.
How to reach Verona:
Verona, being situated in the North of Italy, is well connected by roadways and railways. The two closest airports with international connectivity to Verona are Venice Marco Polo (~120km) and Milan Malpensa (~160km) airports. There are various options to reach from these airports to Verona Porta Nuova (main train station of Verona); and can be found on https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowTopic-g187871-i409-k2870378-Train_from_Venice_to_Verona-Verona_Province_of_Verona_Veneto.html or https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187849-i143-k7013696-Train_tickets_from_Malpensa_Aeroporto_to_Verona-Milan_Lombardy.html. Since neither of these airports have a direct train connectivity to Verona, you can also rent a car from the airport to get to Verona.
Where to stay in Verona:
Verona Centro Storico – while staying in the heart of the old town provides easy access to all the historical monuments and landmarks, it can get quite crowded during the day with hoards of day-trip tourists, and yet be an expensive accommodation option. Staying anywhere around Piazza delle Erbe is a good option, if you prefer the bustling vibe of the centre. Another option is Veronetta – a lively yet budget friendly neighbourhood just across the Adige river from Centro Storico is Veronetta. Personally I liked this neighbourhood as it is just a comfortable walk away from the Centro Storico, well connected by city buses and is inhabited by a mixture of locals, immigrants and youngsters. The neighbourhood is lively and dotted with bars frequented by locals and youngsters at night, and has a relaxed vibe in the morning and during the day, with plenty of restaurants and bar/cafes in the neighbourhood. Another advantage of the Veronetta neighbourhood is it’s proximity to Castle St. Pietro, Teatro Romano and Giardino Giusti.