Where is the most romantic city in Italy? Some would say Rome, others claim cupid to live among the canals of Venice and then there are fans of Capri and Florence. Each one of these glorious landmark sites have their respective place in our hearts, but we can never forget where unrequited, powerful love was not only recorded but staged for hundreds of years. We spent a day in Verona and found that there is much more to love beyond a solemn balcony filled with stolen kisses. Verona is all about modern love with historic flavor.
Spending a Day in Verona
A visit here is a chance to step back in time, to capture the grandeur and splendor of a city steeped in history, with its vast Roman amphitheater, L’Arena, its churches and the Duomo Cathedral and its famous castle, Castelvecchio seized by endless invaders before Verona became a key political and economic center following the unification of Italy. Verona will, however, always be remembered for its tragic love story, Romeo and Juliet, immortalized by William Shakespeare. The city itself is compact enough to see everything in a day on foot, and here is our suggestions on how to spend a day in Verona, UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Breakfast in Verona
El Cuciar, is the perfect spot to welcome the morning with a cup of coffee and light breakfast of fresh orange juice and a croissant while you admire the Cathedral of Santa Maria Matricolare, watching as the sun’s early rays touch this historic monument and gradually light up the dark corners of the square.
If you like a rich breakfast head to Elk Bakery. Infused with a Brooklyn-meets-Copenhagen kind of spirit, this place stands out in Verona for its ultra-local’s address, hipster design and international breakfast dishes from eggs benedict to NY-style bagels, as well as vegan and vegetarian dishes. Great spot for weekend brunches.
Verona Main Attractions
A wander through the streets that were the backdrop for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet will get you acquainted with the artistic, architectural and cultural history of Verona. What’s more, the city is of an ideal size to be best explored by foot. Verona is a city with two thousand years of history, so is undoubtedly a place full of characteristic sites that are worth visiting at any time of the year.
The ideal starting point can only be the very central Piazza Bra, the heart of Verona life since Roman times. Here you can admire the ancient walls of the town’s Roman Arena, home to one of the most famous opera festivals in Europe. The other many monuments of the city can be reached with a pleasant walk that will leave you speechless at every step.
Dating back to the 3rd century and once dedicated to gladiatorial combat and hunting spectaculars, this Roman amphitheatre, L’Arena - now hosts the world famous Opera with 50 performances every season from June to September including La Traviata, Aida, The Barber of Seville and of course, Romeo and Juliet.
If you don’t get chance to indulge in one of these performances and savour an unforgettable experience, at least visit the Arena and try to re-capture its dramatic history. Climbing the steep stone terraces provides not only a panoramic view of the city but conjures up images of spectacular displays. All around the piazza are restaurants and cafes to suit all tastes at prices and well below those in Venice.
Art and Architecture
To the west of the piazza is Castelvecchio sitting astride Ponte Scaligeri, with one part providing a fortress and the other the residence and access to the Arsenale. Occupied by the Visconti family, the Hapsburgs and Napoleon’s army, it now hosts the Museo Civico d’Arte with its collections of Tintoretto, Titian and Veronese paintings. Stroll across the battlements, pose with a Roman soldier and take the opportunity to capture the beauty of this city from this wonderful panorama over the Adige River.
Retrace your steps into the piazza and stroll up Via Mazzini, filled with all the best of Italian fashion design further differentiated by the absence of prices in the windows. This leads you up to one of Verona’s most popular areas around the picturesque Piazza delle Erbe built on the site of a former Roman forum. Packed with market stalls during the day and revelers late at night, it is dominated by the Lamberti Tower rising 83 meters above the city and buttressed against the splendid Palazzo della Ragione. If you’re feeling energetic, you can walk to the top for the panoramic views over the city. Alternatively take the lift.
Descend and walk through the Arco dell Costa- the arch of the rib referring to the whale bone hanging above it – and enter one of the most important squares in Verona – Piazza dei Signori, renowned for its grandeur and its seat of government in the Domus Nova and its Loggia del Consiglio. This is a welcome retreat from the throngs nearby and provides a chance to reflect on the beauty and history of this city. Dante’s statue dominates the square. If you follow the arch to the south of the square you come to the 7th century Church of Santa Maria Antica and the extravagant and ornate Scaliger Tombs, the last resting place of this the most powerful of Veronese dynasties-the Della Scalas who ruled this city. Beyond it is the equally ornate Tomb of Consignorio.
Although Rome and Venice are considered two of the most romantic cities in Italy, a visit to Verona cannot be said to be complete without having a look at Juliet's balcony, immortalized by the pen of William Shakespeare. Having indulged in the history of this city, it is now time to relax and to escape into fiction. Slightly to the south of the Piazza delle Erbe just off Via Cappello and impossible to miss due to the large crowds outside is Juliet’s house, Casa di Giulietta.
Built in the 13th century for the family, Capello, the authorities converted it into a museum to Juliet in 1990. If you want to visit, it is best before the crowds gather to rub the bronze statue of Juliet’s breasts as a sign of good luck. For 6 euros you can enter the house and take pictures of your loved one on the balcony.
Lunch at Osteria Caffe Monte Baldo
Osteria Caffe Monte Baldo, has been around since 1909 and is one of those places that will have you smiling while you sip your glass of wine, watching the locals gather for wine o’clock, waitresses ushering out platters of fresh Veronese tapas, and historic interiors so prominent it must mean passionately ‘Made in Italy’.
Order a glass of Veronese ‘Lugana’ (white wine) or prosecco from Franciacorta, alongside a selection of 12 tapas from all combinations and live the moment. The pace out front is relaxed and happening, the place to be, while other diners may opt for a lunchindoors at the osteria.
Afternoon Shopping at Corso S. Anastasia
It is hard to pass the window display and not notice the particular selection of items set at the window, a mix between Italian sophistication and French Riviera chic. Ensembles of lovely dresses with distinct accessories, weekend wear for men highlighted by the perfect pair of jeans and a sophisticated jacket. There is something different about the home-curated collection at CorsoQuindici, not what you would expect to see or much less find, not even in Milan. The first floor of this fashion atelier is dedicated to the men’s collection and accessories; upstairs is the women’s collection with items that will have you biting your lip with intrigue. Items here are worth the investment.
Born in 2009 with a pair of well-made culottes that took Italian market by storm, Momonì understood the importance of using soft, pleasant fabric to the everyday garment, rendering it a kind of jewel or accessory. Since then, the company launched a collection of clothing whose guiding principle is simple and refined lines. That doesn’t mean the garments lack feminine appeal, on the contrary. The soft fabrics flow so elegantly it is hard not to touch. The unexpected details are playful and hint at the designers’ passionate eyes. With shops in Paris, Florence and Bologna, this is a shop to know and keep an eye out for on the international scene.
For the final part of a sightseeing day in Verona, turn north and take in the Cathedral of Duomo and escape into its quietness, a stark contrast to the cacophony outside Juliet’s house. This took 500 years to build and is home to Titian’s Assumption. There is a calmness to this place and as you leave, you can pass under a beautiful medieval Chapter Cloister built in 1140. Pass under a vault to the left of the Cathedral to experience its beauty. Finally, end the day with a view over the Ponte Pietra, which is the only remaining Roman bridge in Verona. Stop by a wine bar, sip the local rose wine and take in the remains of the Teatro Romano on the other side of the river.
Locanda della Seconda Balena, is a quaint wine bar could not be situated anywhere more appropriate. Its location is classic Italian, along a narrow alleyway, with lounge chairs spilling out onto the narrow passage. The interiors have been restored but only delicately decorated, leaving history to speak for itself. Here, empty wine bottles serve an immediate after life as converted vases while the settled flowers emit their sweet perfumes. Experiment with the region’s wonderful wines and if pre-dinner tummy growls take over, the bar’s appetizers will definitely warm and open your palette.
Dinner at Ristorante Ponte Pietra
Classic goes far, and Ristorante Ponte Pietra, is the ultimate destination for this kind of local experience. Located at a charming corner just by Ponte Pietra (Stone Bridge) whose first stones were set 2000 years ago, the restaurant was designed with lots of mirrors, where glasses hang from every angle, from the bar to the narrow overhead shelves willing to hold up the crystal ware. Sparkling lights twinkle everywhere, and setting are elegantly set up with plush seating and restored furniture from the 1800s. Relaxed romance is the order of the day. Under the direction of Veronese chef Michael Silhavi, guests get a taste for traditional cuisine with ingredients sourced by local suppliers, and yet, the well experienced chef manages to infuse a sparkling spirit into his dishes. Start with the Shrimp tartare with smoked Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes confit or go for Risotto with Peas, Ginger and Black Cuttelfish or the Guinea Fowl with Peas, Goat Cheese and Wasabi.
Late Night Drinks
‘The cure for everything’, the business card reads. There is a reason The Soda Jerk are doing good in running their affairs, too. The barmen at this secreted establishment know cocktails down to the last shot, and put their creative masterpieces on display on a long slab of marble stone, illuminated by minimal lighting. The hidden lounge bar behind the restored walls is intimate, cozy and intriguing, for you get a glimpse into Veronese nightlife. While most are lingering by the gates of Romeo and Juliet’s famous balcony, locals here have gone to the cave in search of something to call their modern own. Soda Jerk in Vicolo Quadrelli 5 marks the spot.
Looking to get a glimpse into local nightlife? Terrazza Bar Al Ponte, is indeed what it claims that itself to be – but with much more edge. If you can get a spot outside at the bar, overlooking the Adige River, there is not much need to move, unless you want to casually dance in and out of the lounge area to order a second round of drinks.
Planning on visiting Verona?
Located in the northeast of Italy, the city setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a popular choice for a day tour from Venice. If you are planning to visit Verona just get in touch with our local travel experts! They can help you plan your perfect day trip to Verona.
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