Verona, Italy has captured my heart. I went to the city daydreaming about the story of Romeo and Juliet and left knowing that the city is so much more than the setting to a fictional romance play. I’m not sure why this city is not on more people’s buckets lists. In my opinion, it is a city that should not be missed if you have the opportunity to visit. The lovely streets of Verona are filled with upbeat people and beautiful scenery throughout. Not to mention, the streets are remarkably clean compared to other places we have been to and the buildings were colorful and just so picturesque. Visiting Verona was definitely a trip we will remember and without a doubt, one of the most successful spontaneous trips we have journeyed on.
If you are traveling by car, Verona is super easy to navigate through. Here is a nice parking lot that is not too far from the city center and wasn’t too expensive. We only spent one day in Verona, but we easily could have made a weekend out of it. I will warn you now: Verona will steal your heart. You will never look at any city the same way again after visiting here. At least, this is my experience with it.
Here is how it happens:
Verona will be far better than what you expected. (aka way more than Romeo and Juliet)
I’ll come right out and say it – I was one of those people. I thought that seeing Romeo and Juliet related sights would be the highlight of our trip to Verona. However, I am here to tell you that visiting Juliet’s house was probably the least exciting part of our trip. Now, I wasn’t disappointed with our visit to Juliet’s house per se; it just was not what I expected it to be. The sight was jam packed with tourists and the lines were ridiculously long to take pictures with the statue of Juliet and on her balcony. Perhaps, if you go early in the morning you may miss the crowds but when we visited in the late afternoon on a Saturday, there were so many people there that it really detracted from our experience. Besides seeing the statue and balcony, there is a small museum that displays some props from the Romeo and Juliet movie. It was only a slightly interesting exhibit and we breezed through it in about 10-15 minutes.
Overall, we spent about a half hour at Juliet’s house and the majority of that time was waiting on line to get in. There are a few other Romeo and Juliet related sights to see in Verona, but nothing that interested us enough to visit (especially after the experience at Juliet’s house). By all means, if you are interested in Romeo and Juliet, you should plan to take a trip to Juliet’s house or another one of the Romeo and Juliet sights. However, plan for it to be a get in and get out experience since there is so much more that Verona has to offer besides these sights.
You will discover that there is a lot to do. (Buy the Verona Card.)
I love when a city offers a pass so that you can see all of its activities for one price. However, these passes are not always worth it if you do not plan on doing everything they offer (72 euro for the Firenze card and 113 euro for the Rome and Vatican City pass). When we went to Verona, we were shocked to see that the Verona Card only costs 18 euro for 24 hours of access, or 22 euro for 48 hours. Purchasing the Verona card gives you free access to many attractions across the city and access to a few more attractions at a reduced value. Not to mention, the card also allows you to use the city buses for free which is totally awesome.
I did the math for the Verona card – if you visit about 3-4 of the attractions it gives you free access to, the benefits of purchasing it outweigh the cost of purchasing tickets at each site. Additionally, the card gives you lots of ideas about what to visit in the city. It was convenient and ended up saving us money in the end. Paying 18 euro to visit a couple of different attractions seemed like a great deal to us!
We purchased our Verona Cards at Castelvecchio. With the Verona card, we visited 3 of its locations including Castelvecchio, The Arena, and Juliet’s House. The main thing to remember is that the card is activated 24 or 48 hours after it is scanned for the first time at the place you visit, not the time of purchase.
You will be able to shop til you drop!
There were so many great shopping stores in Verona. Starting from Piazza delle Erbe and ending at Piazza Bra there is a street called Via Mazzini that is filled with all kinds of shops both well known and unique. We stopped in a few of them as we strolled down the street, including the first Disney store we have seen in Italy. Odds are you will end up traveling down this street by chance if you are visiting Verona’s main attractions since it connects two of the cities main squares. The shops and street became more crowded by the afternoon. There are also many restaurants on the side streets in this area.
If you are more interested in shopping for souvenirs than personal items, then I suggest you visit Piazza delle Erbe where there is a decent sized market with vendors selling all kinds of Verona memorabilia. There are also quite a few cafes in this area as well. The market is fun to walk around and experience even if you are not planning to buy anything. We really enjoyed this area and the vendors are there everyday except Sunday.
You will feel like royalty when you visit Castelvecchio.
Museo di Castelvecchio is by far my favorite place that we visited in Verona. This is an amazing castle experience. Whether you enjoy learning about history, art, weapons, architecture or seeing some amazing views of the city, this place has it all. The fact that you are wondering through a medieval castle is pretty awesome in itself. However, castelvecchio is also filled with endless rooms of Renaissance paintings and artworks. As you go through the museum, you can read about the paintings in various different languages. There is also a medieval weapons exhibit inside the castle that my husband really enjoyed.
After traveling through many rooms of artwork, you will gain access to walk along the walls of the castle. Here, there are plenty of amazing photo opportunities and outstanding views of the city. Additionally, if you have time do not miss the opportunity to walk along Ponte Scaliegro or to take a look around the courtyard. We spent a lot more time than expected at Castelvecchio. It was probably about 2 hours or so. This was definitely one of the coolest castles I have been to.
You will hear beautiful music (or imagine what it’s like, at least) when you visit The Arena.
The Arena is another one of Verona’s most popular attractions. In the center of Piazza Bra, the Arena is a Roman amphitheater that, believe it or not, is still used as a concert hall today! Most of the concerts held at the Arena are operas, so if you are interested in seeing one, this is an amazing venue for it. We visited during the off season which meant that there were not any concerts to be held that day. The views from the top were breathtaking – literally, walking up those stairs was quite the workout. All jokes aside, the views were incredible. On a nice clear day, you can see all the way out to the mountains in the North.
I walked around the entire perimeter of the Arena and took so many wonderful pictures. On the other hand, my husband found a nice spot in the sun and took a nap and said it was one of the best naps of his life! In total, we spent about an hour here. Whether you go to see a show, enjoy some views, or take a nap, the Arena is an experience that should not be missed while you are in the area.
You will feel at home in the Piazzas.
There are two main piazzas in Verona: Piazza Bra and Piazza delle Erbe. These two piazzas are connected by the main shopping road. They both hold some of the main tourist attractions of the city. I found both piazzas to be spacious and surrounded by beautiful buildings. In Piazza delle Erbe there is a market where you can shop around as well as a fountain where many people sit and hang out. In Piazza Bra, you will find many restaurants and a lot of open space. Additionally, there are many places to sit down and relax including a small park with a fountain and benches to sit on. There is no doubt that these piazzas are both beautiful and welcoming to visitors and locals alike.
Verona will be sweet.
If you read my post about Florence, you are probably wondering if I am going to add eating gelato to every itinerary I create about somewhere in Italy. The answer? Most likely. The gelato in Verona was so creamy and amazing. I think this might have been the best gelato I have ever had. How could you not get some while you are here? We stopped at an adorable little shop on Via Mazzini which is filled with so many gelato shops. Many of these little shops accept cash only. We did not know this until after we ordered our gelato (oops!). Luckily, there was an ATM nearby so we were able to enjoy our treats anyway.
You will have fancy beverages. Try the Spritz drink.
We decided to eat lunch in Piazza Bra near the Arena. Eating lunch right near a major tourist attraction? Yes, that sounds like a nightmare for our wallets but, the prices were actually reasonable. While we were eating, we saw that almost everyone around us was drinking this orange drink from a wine glass that also had orange slices in it. After asking the waitress what it was, we decided to order it. Turns out, this drink is called Spritz and it tastes really good! Like all alcoholic beverages in Italy, this was pretty strong. However, it is very popular in the region and I recommend having a taste while in the area. Silly me, I took pictures of everything in Verona except for this! Instead, here is a link that explains more about the drink.
You will see beautiful cars..at Museo Nicolis!
While walking down Via Mazzini, we saw a sign for a car museum. Museo Nicolis is the only place we visited that was not included on our Verona cards so we had to pay a separate entrance fee. The museum is outside of the city center so you will either have to take the bus (free with the Verona card) or drive to it. Even for someone like me that knows very little about cars, this museum was interesting and fun to visit. It features three stories of cars, motorcycles, bikes, and special hobbies. I even found my dream car while I was there as pictured above! 😉 Overall, we spent about an hour or so looking through this museum. I loved seeing all of the old cars from all over the world. The old bikes made from wood were also particularly interesting. It was a magnificent exhibit and a nice refresher from all of the medieval attractions near the city center.
You will be able to relax.
Walking around a city all day can be exhausting. Luckily, there were quite a few beautiful places in Verona that made for great opportunities to relax and catch your breath- a rarity in some other cities that we have visited. I particularly loved sitting near this fountain in Piazza Bra just outside of the Arena. There were many other beautiful places to sit down and relax as well. From my eyes, Verona was absolutely beautiful and a joy to visit. If you have the opportunity to visit yourself, take the chance and do so!