“In fair Verona, where we lay our scene…”
One of Italy’s most popular cities for tourists, Verona is perhaps most famous as the setting of the romantic legend of Romeo and Juliet. But this beatiful Italian city offers so much more than shrines to Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers. Enveloped by the River Adige, Verona’s historic centre and its many attractions also reflect a city rich in architectural, artistic and cultural heritage.
Casa di Giulietta
A small medieval palazzo in a courtyard not far from the Piazza delle Erbe in the old town centre is Juliet’s House, which is said to be the former Capulet home and site of the balcony from which she proclaimed her love for Romeo in the famous tale. Romantics flock to this sight, leaving declarations of love in the form of notes and graffiti on the surrounding walls.
Tomba di Giulietta
Housed in a small dark crypt in the former convent of San Francesco al Corso is the sarcophagus that is said to be where Juliet was buried. One can only access Juliet’s tomb by purchasing an entry ticket to the adjacent Frescoes Museum, but the beautiful grounds alone make a visit to the complex worthwhile.
Piazza delle Erbe
Surrounded by beautiful examples of medieval and renaissance architecture, the Piazza delle Erbe is a stunning square in the centre of Verona, lined with cafes, restaurants and bars and home to a daytime market selling produce and souvenirs. Just beyond the Piazza lies the Arche Scaglieri, a wonderfully elaborate gothic funerary monument dedicated to the Scaglieri family, who ruled Verona during the 13th and 14th centuries.
Arena di Verona
The Arena Di Verona is one of the largest and best preserved Roman amphitheatres. Built in the 1st century AD of pink marble, the amphitheatre is now a legendary open-air opera house with seating for 30,000 people. During our May visit, preparations were already underway for the annual summer opera festival, with giant props already on site for the first production of the season.
The arena sits along one side of the Piazza Brà which is the largest piazza in Verona and lined with cafes, restaurants and majestic buildings such as the Gran Guardia Palace and the neoclassical Barbieri Palace which serves as the city’s Town Hall. The entrance to the square is the Portoni della Brà, which features an impressive clock and double arches which are also the gateway to Verona’s old town.
Castelvecchio and Ponte Scaligero
Built in the 14th century as a defensive fortress, the Castelvecchio sits on the edge of the Adige River. From the castle’s main tower and ramparts one can view the castle-like Ponte Scaligero, a beautiful fortified bridge which is great for a leisurely stroll with breathtaking views of the Adige and surrounding hills, best enjoyed with a gelato in-hand.
The Ponte Pietra bridge, like Verona’s other bridges, was blown up during World War II, but its stones were retrieved from the river after the war and carefully sorted and reassembled into the bridge that it is today. A stroll across the Ponte Pietra leads to the Teatro Romano, the Roman theatre which was unfortunately closed to visitors during our stay. Instead we enjoyed the theatre of the Verona streets which offered plenty to see and admire – from colorful building exteriors and hinged windows, to charming street art and the day-to-day goings-on of locals.