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When I mention Verona, I’m sure you’ll think of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers.
And who can blame you? Romeo and Juliet made the city famous throughout the world.
I would have said the same thing ten years ago.
But, after spending so many years in this extraordinary city, I can say that Verona’s attractions go beyond the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.
Consider that the historic center of Verona has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its architecture and fascinating urban structure.
It’s ideal for a day trip from Milan or Venice, which are both about an hour away by train.
Alternatively, if you have enough time on your Italy trip itinerary, you can spend two or three days in Verona exploring the main treasures of Lake Garda and attending one of the many summer concerts held in the Roman arena.
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Verona, look no further; here’s a quick guide to exploring Verona like a local.
12 Best Things to do in Verona, Italy
The main and largest square in Verona is Piazza Bra.
To enter the square from Corso Porta Nuova, go through the Portoni della Bra.
This city gate features two massive arches and an impressive 19th-century clock in the center.
The gate is part of the medieval walls that were built to connect the square to the suburban countryside in ancient times.
The square is surrounded by several buildings that date back over 2000 years. The neo-classical Palazzo della Gran Guardia, visible from the city walls, is now used for exhibitions and conferences. The Palazzo Barberi, Verona’s town hall, is located to the southeast of the square, and the Arena rises to the north.
A garden shaded by cedar and pine trees surrounds a monumental statue of King Vittorio Emanuele II in the center of the square.
Check out this private tour to visit Verona with an English-speaking local guide!
The Arena Di Verona
The Arena is one of Verona’s most well-known landmarks. It is one of the most well-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. It is still used during the summer for important music events and festivals.
Join the crowds at Juliet’s House
Continuing along via Mazzini, the main shopping road in the city, you arrive at Juliet’s House. A medieval building located in the historic center of Verona.
People believe that Verona is the setting for Shakespeare’s tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, despite the fact that the two main characters never existed and that William Shakespeare never visited Verona during his lifetime. Nonetheless, Juliet’s balcony is one of Verona’s most photographed locations.
There is also a bronze statue of Juliet in the house courtyard. The statue we see today was designed and built in 2014 to replace the original, which was built in 1969.
The original statue is now on display inside the house to protect it from contact wear. Since rubbing your hand over Juliet’s right breast brings love and fertility.
The courtyard where Juliet’s statue stands is free to enter. If you want the full experience, go inside the house to the museum and stand on the balcony. Tickets cost € 6, free with Verona Card. More information can be found here.
Piazza delle Erbe is Verona’s oldest square, and it served as the town’s forum during the Roman Empire. It is one of the world’s top 100 most beautiful squares.
The square is surrounded by historic buildings, including the 14th century Mazzanti house and the Baroque Palazzo Maffei, which is adorned with various statues of Greek gods.
The Tower of Gardello, a clock tower built in 1370 by the Scaliger Cansignorio, is right next to Palazzo Maffei. On the side facing the square, it has the city’s oldest clock.
The square’s oldest monument, however, is the beautiful fountain with the sculpture of Madonna Verona, one of the city’s most popular images.
Piazza dei Signori
Piazza Dei Signori is located next to Piazza Erbe and is also known as Piazza Dante due to a large statue of the writer that stands in the center of the square. Dante Alighieri was one of the greatest writers in Italian literature history.
Every entrance to this square is adorned with arches and statues dedicated to major figures in Veronese history.
On one of these arches stands the statue of Girolamo Fracastoro, a 16th-century doctor holding a ball in his hand. According to legend, if an honest person who has never committed a sin walks by this arch, the ball will fall. It is still there!
Enjoy the view from Torre Dei Lamberti
The Lamberti Tower, Verona’s only private tower, was built in 1172 by the Lamberti family. It is the city’s tallest tower, thanks to its 84 meters in height. It is famous for its clock and two bells, the Rengo and Marangona.
The tower is open to the public, and from its observation deck, you can enjoy a spectacular view of Verona. You can reach the top by climbing approximately 400 steps or by lift (elevator) for an additional € 1 on the ticket price.
While admiring the view, keep in mind that the bells still ring every half hour. I forewarned you 😉
Opening days and more informations can be found here.
The Scaligeri Tombs are located in the courtyard of the Church of Santa Maria Antica, near the Piazza dei Signori. The Della Scala family built this massive Gothic-style funerary complex.
The tombs are surrounded by wrought iron fences decorated with a stair motif, the family’s symbol. The sarcophagi are either on the ground or on elevated surfaces.
If you continue your walk along the Adige river, you will come across the Basilica Di Santa Anastasia. It is a Gothic church from the 13th century with an impressive bell tower.
Walk across Ponte Pietra
Ponte Pietra is the city’s only Roman bridge, consisting of five arches, four of which were blown up by the Germans during World War II. It was then partially rebuilt with stones recovered from the river. The use of various materials does, in fact, give it a picturesque appearance.
Take in the view from Castel San Pietro
San Pietro hill is clearly visible from Ponte Pietra, you can either walk up or get there by the cable railway. Going on foot you will be able to admire the ruins of the Roman Theater. At the top of the hill you will find the square of Castel San Pietro, it provides a bird’s-eye view of Verona.
You have two options at this point. You can either walk backwards along the same route or take the road that leads to the Castel San Pietro square exit.
Continue along the road after the access arch and take the cobblestone road that goes downhill at the crossroads. A pleasant path will lead you to the valley, passing by stone walls and ancient villas surrounded by greenery.
Along the way, you’ll notice the Pieve di San Giovanni in Valle, a Romanesque masterpiece that’s not well-known to mass tourism.
Verona’s Porta Borsari is an ancient Roman gate. It was built in the first century B.C. and marks the southern entrance to ancient Verona. Its current name comes from the Bursari, who were customs officials who taxed the goods.
Continuing along Corso Cavour, you will walk along a 2000 years old road. Along this road, that will lead you to Castelvecchio, you will notice many buildings of particular interest.
Palazzo Bevilacqua and the Palazzo Canossa were both built by Michele Sanmicheli in 1530. They are considered to be the most architectonical masterpieces of the city.
Arco dei Gavi
Next to the Castelvecchio monumental building, overlooking the Adige River, stands the Arco dei Gavi. Built in the early 1st century CE ( or AD) by a noble Roman family.
This lovely arch is a rare example of a celebratory arch dedicated to a family of private citizens rather than a condottiero.
Scaligeri Bridge with Castelvecchio Fortress
Castelvecchio, a well-preserved medieval fortress, is one of the most important monuments to see in Verona.
In the 14th century, the Scaligeri family built this fortress on the banks of the Adige river, along with the Scaligeri bridge.
The unpopular family moved there not to protect themselves from enemies, but to protect themselves from their own people.
And, ironically, the fortress was conquered from the outside when the Milanese Visconti ended the Scaligeri’s reign.
Their residence now houses The Civic Art Museum, where important paintings can be viewed. To get to the museum, you must first cross the drawbridge and enter the internal courtyard.
The Scaligeri bridge, which connects the old and new cities outside the Adige river, is located next to the fortress. The bridge is also in good condition.
More informations on opening day and tickets here.
Do you have any questions or comments about visiting Verona, Italy? Leave a comment below!
Planning a trip to Italy? Read my post on how to plan a trip to Ialy
Ciao and safe travels!