Verona was the first of two stops on this trip, the next one being Venice (read our tips from venice here). We visited during the peak of Carnival celebrations, so the city was very lively!
Top things to do in Verona
One of Verona’s more famous attractions, the Castelvecchio is a medieval castle dating back to 1354, built by the della Scala family as a defense against outside forces. Connected to the castle is the Castelvecchio Bridge (Ponte di Castel Vecchio), a fortified arch bridge over the Adige River. Walk over the red brick and white marble bridge and visit the museum located at the castle.
Arco dei Gavi
Located next to the Castelvecchio, the Arco dei Gavi is an ancient structure built by a Roman noble family at the beginning of the Via Postumia, the Roman road leading to the city. In the Middle Ages, it was used as a gate within the city walls. Notice the bottom floor of the gate and how it is worn down from the wheels of horse drawn carriages.
Verona Cathedral (Duomo di Verona)
Verona Cathedral is a must-see in Verona. It is a Roman Catholic cathedral, built in Romanesque style in the early 10th century. The church has a beautiful interior, ornately decorated with red Verona marble columns lining the aisles.
Tips: Buy the Verona church pass, to gain access to Verona Cathedral and the three churches below for a discounted rate (€6 instead of €10 total). You can purchase at any of the locations, whichever one you visit first.
Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore
The Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore is known for the marriage of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in its large crypt, housing the body of St. Zeno in a sarcophagus. It has an exterior made of tuff, a volcanic ash rock, but the interior is unique and beautiful. The Presbytery is raised and sits above the crypt, an interesting layout that we have not seen in many churches.
Tips: Walk around and enjoy the nearby Piazza San Zeno, full of small shops and cafes to have lunch at.
Chiesa Santa Anastasia
Located in the most ancient part of the city, the Chiesa Santa Anastasia is a Gothic style church full of beautiful frescoes and red marble columns. Make sure to look both up and down in this church. The detailing on the ceiling is quite amazing, and the tiled flooring is mainly original.
Chiesa di San Fermo Maggiore
The fourth church to visit in Verona was built in Romanesque style, with parts of the site dating back to the 8th century. The church houses an altarpiece of St. Francis of Assisi and has an amazing wood carved ceiling (look for the people). There are actually two parts to this church that you can visit: the superiore above, and the inferiore below.
Porta Borsari (Borsari Gate)
The Porta Borsari is one of multiple ancient Roman gates in Verona, dating back to the 1st century. The gate is made of ornately decorated white limestone and was once the main entrance to the city. Walk on either side of the gate to see the variances in the different sides.
Piazza Bra & Verona Arena
Piazza Bra is Verona’s largest piazza, comprised of various cafes and restaurants mixed with notable buildings, such as the Gran Guardia, Palazzo Barbieri (Town Hall) and the Verona Arena. The Verona Arena was originally built as an amphitheater in the 1st century, but it now used as a music venue, hosting numerous contemporary performers and even some operas. It is a great example of Roman architecture - a circular shape with stacked arches.
Tips: Visit Piazza Bra earlier in the day for smaller crowds and better picture opportunities.
Via Giuseppe Mazzini
Pedestrian shopping street located off the Piazza Bra. Here you will find the main shops and boutiques, including the many designer and high fashion brands. A nice area to walk through to do some window shopping with a gelato in hand ;)
Casa di Giulietta
Although overrun with tourists, the Casa di Giulietta is said to have inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and is still a must see when in Verona. People have taken to writing “love notes” on the walls leading into the courtyard of the 14th century house.
Tips: For €6, you can visit the museum, but a peak into the courtyard to see the balcony is probably all you need.
Piazza delle Erbe & Torre dei Lamberti
Piazza delle Erbe is a nice square, centrally located in Verona and hosts a market most days of the week (trinkets, food, souvenirs, etc). During the times of the Roman Empire, Piazza delle Erbe served as the town’s main forum. To the square’s north lies the Torre dei Lamberti, a bell tower dating back to the 10th century. You can ascend to the top of the Torre dei Lamberti, offering great views of the city.
The Ponte Pietra (“Stone Bridge”) is an arch bridge crossing the Adige River, made of brick and travertine. It is the oldest bridge in Verona and was completed in 100 BC, and the Via Postumia also passed over it.
Roman Theatre & Archaeological Museum
The Roman Theatre is an ancient Roman outdoor theater, dating back to the end of the 1st century. The theatre is located just north of the Adige River, offering amazing views of Verona from the top. The Archaeological Museum now located on the site is definitely worth a visit -- it is full of ancient Roman artifacts and findings from Verona’s history. The museum is built into the hillside, so be mindful there are many stairs to climb, but the far reaching views are totally worth it.
Food and Drink in Verona
Pasticceria Bar Cordioli
Located near Piazza delle Erbe, Pasticceria Bar Cordioli sells all kinds of delicious pastries and treats and makes some of the best frittelle, fried dough delicious-ness, in the city.
This cute and cosy wine bar serves local wine and beer as well as a large variety of bruschetta (from bologna and cheese to tomato mozzarella) and a local polenta dish. They have a large outdoor terrace for enjoying a drink and some light bites, making it a nice evening spot.
Osteria Il Bertoldo
Osteria Il Bertoldo is located off the main tourist drag and is great place to enjoy an intimate dinner. The restaurant has a nice ambiance and serves authentic and delicious Italian (Neapolitan, actually) cuisine. You won’t be disappointed at this restaurant!
Located right next to Verona Cathedral, this cafe serves fresh and healthy food. We tried some amazing wine from sustainable vineyards here as well. They have a nice patio to enjoy a glass of wine or an aperol spritz and some light bites alfresco.
Terrazza Bar Al Ponte
This wine bar has a really nice outdoor terrace, perched above the Adige River near the Ponte Pietra. We enjoyed fresh panini sandwiches here with views of the river.
Located near the Borsari Gate, this cafe is a nice spot if you are looking for a coffee or tea and a croissant in the morning (seriously, one of the best croissants we've ever had).
Where to Stay in Verona
Hotel Due Torri
The Hotel Due Torri is a great hotel to stay in Verona, nicely decorated with a well known lobby restaurant and a terrace eatery that offers panoramic views of Verona. The rooms all have character with wood furniture and nice linens. The breakfast that is included has a great selection with delicious coffee and tea, and takes part in a lovely breakfast tea room.
The next stop on our trip was Venice. Read all about it here.