Home of the most famous love story / three-day romance in the world, Verona owes much of its glory and name recognition to Shakespeare. Naturally, many of the things to do in Verona have something to do with Romeo and Juliet – you can take photos under Juliet’s balcony, in addition to visiting the homes or the tombs of the two tragic lovers. But Verona is not the kind of city to rest on its laurels and milk the Shakespeare thing ad nauseam. Quite the contrary. Known as “Little Rome”, Verona leads a rich and varied cultural life of its own. In the city’s ‘Arena’, a gorgeous Roman amphitheater, you can experience opera the way it’s meant to be experienced – in a venue more storied and more ancient even than the numerous gorgeous churches and enchanting little bridges over the Adige. Impressive art, marvelous regional wine, and amazing locally sourced food make Verona one of the most attractive destinations in Italy, even if we ignore the appeal of the famous tragedy and the unparalleled beauty of the city’s hinterland, including the stunning Lake Garda, just a stone’s throw away.
WHAT’S THE BEST TIME TO VISIT VERONA?
No matter when you choose to visit, you will always find things to do in Verona. That said, most travelers agree that the best time to visit Verona is between late May and early October. Naturally, summer is the most popular season, with tourist flooding all of the most popular places in the city. If that sounds like something you would like to avoid, then plan your visit either in spring or fall. September is always a good choice due to lower room rates and consistent warm temperatures. However, one of the reasons why the period from June to August is so popular is the Verona Arena Opera, with spectacular evening performances in the Roman era amphitheater. If you are a fan of classical music (and even if you just want to experience something special on your Verona day trip), then the best time to visit Verona is definitely during the Opera season.
A FEW FACTS ABOUT VERONA
Verona is a relatively small city on the Adige river in the Veneto region in Italy. Like the rest of the region, Verona was under Venetian rule between the 7th and 18th centuries, and still remains one of the seven provincial capitals, alongside Padua, Vicenza, Treviso, and others. Verona’s history, however, predates the Venetian Republic: it was founded sometime in the 1st century BC, as evidenced by the four prominent Roman remains in the city. These include the amphitheater, the Arco dei Gavi, the Porta dei Borsari, and the ancient theater on the left bank of the Adige river. The numerous attractions have made Verona a popular tourist destination. In spite of that, it is still not as overrun by tourists as Venice. There are still several areas and small squares in Verona where you can slink away and avoid the crowds. Find a secluded trattoria and try the amazing food the city is famous for, especially the risotto, gnocchi, and bigoli. Follow it up with a couple of glasses of wine. The entire region is famous for producing some of the best wine in the country – especially the famous Amarone, which is made of raisins and was once reserved exclusively for kings.
ONE DAY IN VERONA ITINERARY
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do on your one day in Verona.
Start Your Trip by Visiting the Verona Cathedral
Start your day early, around 8 or 9 AM, which should hive you plenty of time to see all of the major attractions in Verona in a day. The first of these attractions is the Verona Cathedral, officially called Duomo Cattedrale di Santa Maria Matricolare. It is located on Piazza Vescovado, between two bridges next to a prominent bend on the southern bank of the Adige river. It is a gorgeous Romanesque cathedral with a striped façade, notable for its beautiful wall paintings and preserved artwork by Titian, the most prominent member of the 16th-century Venetian school. The present cathedral is the third one built on the same spot. The first edifice was built in 380 AD, and the second one in the 8th century. Both were destroyed by an earthquake. The structure we see today was built in 1138, but it also underwent major remodeling in the 15th and 16th century, when the prominent Gothic elements were added, changing the cathedral’s appearance. The entry fee is 3 EUR, and touring the gorgeous church takes up to 50 minutes (with an audio guide included). If you plan on visiting other prominent churches in Verona, pay 6 EUR instead and get the ticket that includes all of the 4 main churches in the city.
Follow It up with the Basilica Di Santa Anastasia
Another beautiful church that tops the list of things to see in Verona is the 13th-century Basilica di Santa Anastasia, located just 350 meters from the cathedral. You can get there in 4 minutes if you just go straight down via Duomo. The biggest attraction in Sant’Anastasia is the famous fresco by Pisanello, “St. George & the Princess,” although its gorgeous red Veronese marble pillars and the 72-meter bell tower are equally impressive. You will notice that the building’s façade was never quite completed. Still, you can see what the church would have looked like inside, in a painting above one of the altars. Also make sure to check out the wonderful terracotta figures, unique works of art by Michele di Firenze.
Take a Short Walk to Arche Scaligeri
If you belonged to a wealthy and influential Italian family in the Middle Ages/Renaissance, it is likely that your life was immortalized in a gorgeous work of art in a square somewhere. Still, not even Cangrande I, the founder of the powerful Scaligeri dynasty (also known as Della Scala), could have imagined that his “tomb” would be admired by millions of people from all over the world. Members of the prominent family ruled the city as Lords of Verona in the 13th and 14th century. Cangrande himself is today perhaps most famous as the main patron of Dante Alighieri. Arche Scaligeri, which is located just 200 meters south of the Basilica Di Santa Anastasia, is a burial site with 5 gorgeous Gothic monuments behind a wrought iron gate. Also make sure to check out the nearby Torre dei Lamberti, the tallest medieval tower in Verona. You can actually climb the 83-meter tall tower and enjoy amazing, sweeping views of the city, just like the noble members of the Lamberti family when the tower was constructed in 1172. If you don’t feel like you can climb the 368 stairs to the top, worry not – there’s also an elevator inside, allowing you to save some energy for all the other things to see in Verona.
Spend Some Time at the Piazza Dei Signori
The large public square between the Torre dei Lamberti and Arche Scaligeri is called Piazza dei Signori or the Lords Square in English. When the Scaglieri family ruled Verona, this square was the heart of the city and a major gathering place. Owing to that fact, Piazza dei Signori is one of the most beautiful squares in Verona to this day, with magnificent 14th-century arches and beautiful old palaces surrounding the space. Notable buildings include the council Lodge or Loggia del Consiglio (dating back to 1476), the Palazzo del Podesta (home of the famous Della Scalla family), Casa della Pieta, Palazzo dei Tribunali, Palazzo del Comune, Palazzo dei Giudici, Palazzo della Ragione, and others. The square is also sometimes called Dante’s Square because of the large statue of Dante Alighieri lost in thought occupying the center of the square. The statue was erected in 1865.
Explore the Charming Produce and Flower Market at the Piazza Delle Erbe
One of the largest and most vibrant squares in the city, Piazza Delle Erbe is a veritable Verona must see, literally less than 100 meters west of the Piazza Dei Signori. Just head west and walk through the Arco della Costa and you’re there. It’s a beautiful gate with a real whalebone (rib) hanging in the arch. This is just one reminder of the time when exotic items and rare spices were sold in the square beyond, their unique fragrances spreading in every direction. Even today, Piazza delle Erbe still serves as Verona’s Market Square, with a produce and flower market held there every day apart from Sunday. Feel free to tour the square and peruse the colorful goods, just like the locals and their ancestors all the way back to Roman times. As you explore the area, you will come across numerous monuments to the square’s age and significance, such as the gorgeous statue of Madonna Verona, dating back to 380 AD.
Take a Well-Deserved Lunch Break
The only problem when it comes to eating in Verona is choosing the right restaurant among hundreds of quaint, authentic establishments lining every street and square in the city. If you want to be able to tour Verona in a day, you’ll want to plan in advance and make a reservation so you won’t have to spend an hour or more going from place to place unable to decide where you want to eat, or, even worse, unable to get a seat. Among Verona’s very best trattorias, Trattoria al Pompiere stands out with its long tradition (it first opened in the first half of the 20th century), warm, welcoming atmosphere, and delicious local dishes. They have an impressive cheese counter with almost a hundred types of cheese. When it comes to main courses, they serve only the best of local Veronese and Veneto cuisine, such as the excellent horsemeat stew with polenta and the Vicenza-style salt cod. Trattoria al Pompiere is located just off Piazza Delle Erbe, in a charming little side alley to the south (Vicolo Regina D’Ungheria). For pizza, consider Pizzeria Du De Cope, located southwest of the Dante statue in a straight line down Via Pellicciai (300 meters). The pizzeria, occupying the space of the old Du De Cope Tavern, serves authentic Neapolitan pizza, with a great selection of Italian craft beers (from Piedmont, Tuscany, Umbria, and Veneto), and amazing wines from the Veronese hills.
Ask the All-important Question from Giulietta’s Balcony
Just like all the other things to see in Verona, Juliet’s House (Casa di Giulietta) is also very close to the city center. You can get there in under a minute from Piazza Delle Erbe via Via Cappello. Located in a small courtyard, the iconic balcony is unmistakable as it protrudes from the large 14th-century house. Likely one of the most famous attractions in Verona, the house is said to have inspired Shakespeare, even though there’s no evidence that the Bard ever visited Verona. But that doesn’t stop thousands of hopeless romantics from visiting the house, which is also a museum, and proclaiming “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” from the balcony as they stare longingly into the distance. The house’s charm is undeniable, heightened by the 14th-century exhibitions and the original bed used in the 1936 Zeffirelli film.
Check out the Verona Arena
After touring Juliet’s House, take a short walk to Via Stella and then continue in a straight line until you reach Arena di Verona, a gorgeous, immaculately preserved Roman amphitheater located on a large square (Piazza Bra) with a monument to Vittorio Emanuele II in its center. The whole walk should take 10 minutes tops, down a charming street lined with remarkable historic buildings such as the beautiful Chiesa di San Nicolò all’Arena, whose front resembles classical Greek temples. The Arena itself, just a few meters down the street, was built in 30 AD, when it was capable of accommodating 30,000 people who came from far and wide to attend theatrical performances and major sports events of the time. It was badly damaged in the 1117 earthquake (the same that destroyed the old cathedral), and it was mostly abandoned until the Reneissance period, when it was finally renovated. The opera performances first started in the early 1900s, and have since evolved to become some of the most brilliant productions, performances, and concerts in the world. This goes without saying, but if you visit Verona between June and August, try to snag a seat at one of the performances and soak in the mystical, reverential atmosphere.
Continue to Arco dei Gavi
Since we’re already touring ancient Roman architectural marvels, it would be a sin to skip Arco dei Gavi, a massive white-marble triumphal arch from the 1st century, built to honor the Roman Gavia family, ancient residents of the city. The arch is located on the bank of the Adige river, overlooking the gorgeous Castelvecchio Bridge. You can get there in less than 5 minutes from Piazza Bra, simply by following Via Roma. The arch was part of the fortified city walls during the Middle Ages and served as a gate entrance. It was disassembled by the French after the Napoleonic Walls, only to be finally reconstructed in its current location in 1932. Take some time to admire the remarkable structure, made of Veronese marble, especially the ornately decorated capitals.
Visit the Castelvecchio Museum
Right next door to Arco dei Gavi, you see a well-preserved medieval castle overlooking the river, with tall red-brick walls and monumental turrets at each of the corners. Built by the Della Scala family under Cangrande II in 1356, the castle primarily served as a utilitarian military structure, which explains its somewhat plain appearance. But don’t let the exterior fool you. The interior hoses a museum with a vast collection of medieval sculptures, paintings, and ancient weapons. With 2,500 paintings and 8,000 prints, its assortment of art covers the period between the Middle Ages and the 18th century. The castle itself is a notable example of Gothic architecture, used by Napoleon himself and later by Austrian soldiers when the Austro-Hungarian Empire ruled the region. The museum closes at 6:45 PM, so make sure to come at least an hour prior to have enough time to take a tour of the castle and admire the most important exhibitions.
Cross the CastelVecchio Bridge
Another beautiful landmark built by the Della Scala family, CastelVecchio Bridge is a part of the castle complex, built in 1354. It is a beautiful brick construction across the Adige, a monumental remnant of a different era, with stairs leading down to the river (great for taking pictures), and a gorgeous nearby garden. If you peep inside, you will notice that the bridge houses the Civic Museum of Verona, although staying on the outside and taking in the sights is a much more worthwhile experience. As a relevant historical side note, it is worth mentioning that the bridge was destroyed by the Germans as they retreated in 1945, but was luckily rebuilt in 1951.
Treat Yourself to a Real Veronese Dinner
As you will hopefully notice, the CastelVecchio Bridge is even more beautiful in the evening, especially when the sun is setting. Spend some time enjoying the sights and exploring the area around the river before choosing a nice restaurant or a trattoria for dinner. As per usual, it is advised to make reservations in advance. Ristorante Maffei, located on Piazza Delle Erbe in the historic Palazzo Maffei, is an excellent choice, reminiscent of the millenniums of history that the whole Piazza is steeped in. The setting is absolutely unbeatable, from the palace (built somewhere between 1623 and 1663), to the beautiful statues surrounding the terrace balustrade. The staff speak very good English, which is in itself kind of irrelevant compared to the excellent food and the gorgeous courtyard setting. Between the appetizers and the main course, you can actually tour the Roman ruins in the basement, a real treat. If you haven’t already, try the Amarone and pair it with one of the meat dishes, such as the steak or the lamb. If you want something a bit simpler, such as a quick bite followed by a couple of cocktails or a beer, you can’t go wrong with La Tradision, located on Via Guglielmo Oberdan, not far from the Arena.The ambience is very friendly and relaxing, with an assortment of snacks, sandwiches, cold cuts, cheeses, salami, and sausages.
Have a Few Drinks at a Nearby Cocktail Bar
If you’re not sure what to do in Verona apart from sightseeing and attending concerts, here’s an idea: wine, cocktails, and beer. Pick your poison. All of that and more can be found at the Grande Giove Cocktail bar, a beloved, cozy bar east of the river on Via Seghe S. Tomaso. In addition to outstanding precision cocktails, the bar serves local wines and craft beer. The bar is frequented by locals, which is saying a lot about the great atmosphere and the staff, especially the owner Giovanni, the warm and welcoming heart and soul of the place.
WHERE TO STAY IN VERONA?
Due Torri Hotel
The large rooftop terrace and amazing, sweeping views of Verona’s historic center are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes what Due Torri Hotel has to offer. Luxurious and elegant, the property features a gorgeous lobby that is highly sough after for cultural events and exhibitions. The Art-Nouveau restaurant is another highlight, as are the large, comfortable rooms with free Wi-Fi access and satellite TV. The hotel’s supreme location at the very heart of the city, near the Basilica di Santa Anastasia and less than 5 minutes from Juliet’s balcony, serves as the perfect starting point for travelers looking to see as much of Verona in a day as possible. The gorgeous period furniture in the rooms and suites perfectly complements the recent refurbishments and the fresh façade that has breathed a new life into the historic 14th-century palace that houses the Due Torri Hotel.
Another centrally located property, Hotel Accademia is a bit closer to the Arena (350 m), housed in a historic building that was once owned by Giovanni Zenatello, a world-renowned opera singer who was instrumental in making the Verona Arena one of the greatest opera venues in the world. As if this remarkable pedigree isn’t enough, the hotel’s rooms were also frequently occupied by Maria Callas. Even today, the marble-paneled interiors and spacious rooms decorated in red and gold speak volumes about Hotel Accademia’s storied past. In spite of all that, the facilities that the property offers are unmistakably modern, including the up-to-date fitness center with Technogym equipment, the outdoor sun terrace with loungers, and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel.
Hotel Bologna has everything you can possibly need for an unforgettable stay in Verona, starting with the gorgeous historic building a stone’s throw away from the Arena. The rooms are comfortable and classically decorated, with air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs with satellite access, and free Wi-Fi. To make sightseeing even more convenient, free bicycles are available at the hotel’s reception, while the staff are all warm, accommodating, and helpful. In case you want to try the best dishes Verona has to offer, you can heat to the on-site Rubiani Restaurant, a renowned establishment serving Venetian specialties and other Italian dishes, complemented by an extensive wine list – with both French and Italian labels.
Beautiful, comfortable, and welcoming, The Hostello stands out as one of the best hostels in Italy, with a beautiful garden, a modern shared lounge, and cozy rooms, some of which feature a balcony. Located only 2 km from the Piazza delle Erbe, The Hostello regales its visitors with a free continental breakfast, friendly and helpful staff, beautifully designed bathrooms, inviting common areas, and charming little quirks, such as the doors that open using a password. The rooms will make you feel you’re home, with the only downside being the fact that you will eventually have to leave.
DAY TRIPS FROM VERONA
In case you ever run out of things to do in Verona (very unlikely), you will still have a million different options to spice things up and make your vacation one to remember. First and foremost, Lake Garda, the largest and one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy, is less than an hour away. The lake’s crystal-clear waters are lined by fairytale towns and villages, magnificent palaces, and towering mountains. Speaking about mountains, perhaps a day trip from Verona to the Dolomites is more up your alley? How about an epicurean Soave wine tour with tasting? If you’d like to know more about what the broader region of Verona has to offer, make sure to check out this related article.
EXTRA TIPS FOR VISITING VERONA
-If you find yourself near the Porta Nuova railway station, pick up a free map of Verona from the nearby tourist office, useful for its public transport routes & extensive list of upcoming events.
-Don’t bother driving – you can get to almost all of the major things to see in Verona on foot. The historic center is pedestrian anyway. As a bonus, you’ll avoid the frequent traffic jams.
-Verona is quite safe compared to some European cities. Even so, try to follow some basic security precautions and protect your valuables.
PIN FOR LATER!
If you have any other propositions for this One Day in Verona Itinerary, feel free to share them in the comments below!