I was drawn to visiting this city, known as the city of Romeo and Juliet’s love story. I was staying in Venice for multiple days and decided to take one day to do a day trip to Verona. In addition, Casa Perbelinni, a 2 Michelin Starred restaurant nestled in this little town. We made lunch reservations in advance, and took the train from Venice to Verona (only an hour ride!)
After visiting much larger ruins in Rome and more impressive buildings in other Italian cities like Florence, Verona is a quiet humble half-cousin. I would probably only visit if you had an extra day to spend. Maybe it was the gloomy rainy weather, and maybe it was the hoardes of tourists in small enclosed spaces, but Verona did not as much evoke the “romantic” imagery I was expecting.
But if you need a break from Venice or somewhere else, or you want to watch a real concert in a beautiful archaeological site (the arena), then perhaps this is the place for you. I probably won’t visit again unless there is a special reason to do so.
Piazza delle Erbe
After passing through an area of shopping full of recognizable brands (Sephora, Louis Vuitton), there will be a plaza with a nice market full of vendors for artisanal goods and produce. Take a moment to admire the fountain Madonna Verona, a Roman sculpture from 380 AD.
Possibly the most well known attraction in Verona is Juliet’s House. There is a small enclosed courtyard where the surrounding walls are plastered with love letters. You can pay a small fee to enter the house and take a picture on the balcony, but based on other reviews saying it was lackluster, I decided to skip this experience too.
I had a hard time enjoying this attraction due to the large volume of crowds/tour groups packed within the small courtyard. There is a small bronze statue of Juliet which is another popular photo-op. You can see many men groping Juliet’s breasts as part of their pose. Rumor has it that stroking her right breast will bring good fortune.
Besides the arena, there are several other beautiful and preserved Roman ruins to visit. The Porta Borsari was an ancient Roman gate built around 1st century AD. This was the city’s main gate and Via Postumia (large ancient Roman road running from east to west) went through here.
How to get here?
From the train station, you can either take a cab or walk to the main town center. Since it was a nice day, we walked for about 20 minutes to get to the actual town area. We thought we would bypass some nice local scenery, but instead it was not very scenic and in some parts not pedestrian friendly (busy streets with lots of cars). To save money, I would still walk next time but if you have less than mobile members in your group or short on time, just take a cab next time.
Roman amphitheater built in 30 AD, still used today to hosts concerts. It is preserved in beautiful condition, and is remarkable that visitors can still sit inside and listen to operas and even pop concerts (Adele, One Direction).
We waited in line to purchase a ticket (10 euros each) to enter the arena. However the inside wasn’t too impressive (rows of stone seating). We spent about 5 minutes inside and left. I think you can look up images on google to see the interior and see if it piques your interest. Younger children would probably like this.
Scaliger Family Tombs
The Scaliger family ruled Verona from the 13th to 14th century. They erected five Gothic style tombs, each with a sarcophagus under a baldachin. On the top of each tomb is a statue of the deceased family member.
There is a iron fence that surrounds the tombs, making it hard to see some of the details close.
Basilica di San Zeno
One of my unexpected favorites was a minor Basilica which is supposedly the site of the marriage of Romeo and Juliet. This Romanesque style church has a bell tower which was mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The stone gives off a lovely color during a sunny day and the round rose window is fashioned in the style of Wheel of Fortune. In medieval times, the wheel of fortune was a symbol of a person’s unexpected fate.
You can see this church if you plan a visit to Casa Perbellini which is located across the courtyard.