For most people, Verona is the setting of one of the most famous love stories ever told - William Shakespeare's making it one of the most popular holiday destinations for lovers and romantics. Shakespeare said, 'There is no world outside these walls...' and tourists will indeed feel like they are lost inside another world when they enter the gates of the historic city of Verona.
With beautiful red-tiled rooftops juxtaposed with leafy green trees and the sparkling Adige River that flows through this UNESCO World Heritage Site, Verona is one of the most picturesque destinations in the country. Sadly though, much of the exquisite ancient architecture and ancient Roman monuments were destroyed by a powerful earthquake that rocked the city in 1117, which led to a massive Romanesque rebuilding (evident in structures like the ancient parish of San Giovanni in Valle).
Visit Juliet's house and balcony and rub her statue for good luck; stroll across the Ponte Pietra bridge to admire the views over the Adige River; visit the remains of a 3rd-century Roman gate at the historic Porta Borsari; visit the statue of famed poet Dante Alighieri in the Piazza dei Signori; or marvel at the crumbling but still functional Arena di Verona, an enormous Roman amphitheatre dating back 2,000 years and still boasting the largest opera stage in the world. The best time to visit the Arena is during the 'lyrical season', in the summer, where operas take place inside this ancient theatre on balmy summer nights.
The areas surrounding Verona provide some of Italy's most breathtaking scenery. Wine-lovers will not want to miss out on a trip to Valpolicella or Soave; while nearby Lake Garda to the west of Verona is a popular tourist destination, whose shores are home to a number of exclusive hotels and resorts.
After a long day of enjoying the romance, history and splendour of the city of Verona, climb the steps on the hill above the Roman Amphitheatre to the Castell San Pietro (St Peter's Castle) for spectacular views over the city - the perfect setting for a romantic sunset picnic.
Also known as the Castelvecchio Bridge, the Ponte Scaligero spans 160 feet (49m) across the Adige River, the largest span in the world at the time of its construction. Originally built between 1354 and 1356, the bridge was completely destroyed during World War II by retreating German troops in April 1945, but was reconstructed faithfully, using as much of the original materials as possible, between 1949 and 1951. The bridge's upper part was built with red bricks, as are all Veronese landmarks from the Scaliger era, while the lower part of the bridge is made up of white marble. The bridge is open all day, every day and is one of the best places to enjoy spectacular views over the city of Verona, as well as views of the adjoining Castelvecchio Castle, a 14th-century red-brick structure of considerable grandeur. The bridge can get very crowded, a testament to its popularity and appeal, but also an annoyance to some visitors, particularly photographers; it is a good idea to arrive early or late in the evening to avoid crowds. There are benches on the river banks where you can enjoy views of the bridge itself. On weekends there is often a delightful market spanning the length of the bridge.
The Piazza delle Erbe is a square in Verona which was once home to the city's Roman Forum during the days of Empire. The piazza contains the Britney Verona fountain, the ancient town hall, the Lamberti Tower (which affords breathtaking views over the city for those willing to climb the stairs), the 14th-century Gardello Tower, the Baroque Palazzo Maffei, adorned with statues of Greek gods, and a pretty daily market that draws tourists by the bus load. The markets are famed for their fresh fruit and vegetables but there are other things on offer, like Venetian masks and beautiful shawls, and some wonderful bargains can be found. Despite the crowds, the square is still worth a visit for its marketplace and its lovely eateries, where weary tourists can grab a bite to eat and dine al fresco in the picturesque Roman Court. The Piazza delle Erbe is the heart of Verona and its central gathering place. Street artists add to the festive atmosphere and the clash of ancient and modern is interesting and picturesque. Be sure to take your camera along, and to look up at the buildings surrounding the square rather than just at the bustle of life that surrounds you. The piazza is also lots of fun at night, when its numerous bars beckon visitors.
This enormous Ancient Roman theatre dates back 2,000 years, is the third-largest surviving theatre in the world, and is Italy's largest opera theatre. The exterior may be crumbling, but it only adds to the character and authenticity of the place. The very fact that this theatre is still fully functional after 2,000 years and has withstood a devastating earthquake makes it an attraction not to be missed while on holiday in Verona. In recent times, the Verona Arena has played host to popular music artists such as The Who, Kiss, Pearl Jam, Muse, Elton John and Tina Turner. Seating up to 15,000 people, the best time to visit the Arena is during the lyrical season, in the summer, when operas take place inside this ancient theatre on balmy summer nights. For details on what is showing and ticket bookings check the official website listed below.
You can visit the Verona Arena as a tourist attraction without seeing a show and for a small admission cost explore the ancient structure. There is very little information available at the site unfortunately but there are some wonderful views from the top levels of the theatre and it is a thrill to be in such an old structure. Catching an opera or concert is first prize, but strolling around when it is empty is still exciting and worthwhile.
One of Italy's most renowned wine regions, the valley of Valpolicella is located just east of Lake Garda, and makes a fabulous day trip for those visiting Verona. Ranking just after Chianti, Valpolicella wines are made from three grape varietals, namely Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara. Winemaking here has existed since at least the time of the ancient Greeks and the region is famed for its Recioto, Ripasso and Amarone wines. A visit to Valpolicella will reward you with not only some of Italy's finest wines, but also fine food and dining in the quaint, picturesque villages of San Pietro Incariano, Fumane and Negrar. Tourists should note that Valpolicella, despite its wine pedigree, doesn't have as many tasting rooms and wineries open to the public as one might expect having explored other famous wine regions, but what they do have rewards a visit. If you feel the need to work off some of the good food and wine you've sampled in the valley, or want to see more of the natural landscapes of the region, the nearby park of Cascate di Molina showcases Italy's countryside at its best, and boasts beautiful natural waterfalls and hikes for adventurous visitors to enjoy.
Verona has a humid subtropical climate with hot summers and cold winters. Relative humidity is generally high throughout the year, especially in the winter months when it causes early morning fog. December to February are the coldest months of the year, when temperatures rarely reach above 59°F (15°C). The summer months of June and July are hot, with average high temperatures around 84°F (29°C), while August usually experiences frequent thunderstorms. The spring and summer months are the best times to visit Verona.
Central Verona is fairly compact and easily navigated on foot. City buses operate from the central bus station to most areas of the city. It's better to buy a ticket before boarding the bus (at a bus station, tobacconist or newsagent) as it can be more expensive to buy a ticket on board the bus. Car hire is available in Verona, and driving is a viable option for exploring the city, especially if wanting to visit attractions outside the city limits. Bike hire is also available through a city bike hire scheme.
A trip to Verona means plenty of sightseeing, history and romance, and travellers will have their hands full deciding where to begin. The beautiful architecture around the city, most of it rebuilt in Romanesque style after the 1117 earthquake, is simply breathtaking.
For many, a holiday in Verona isn't complete without a visit to Juliet's balcony. But there is more to the city of Verona than just following the trail of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers. In actual fact, 'Juliet's balcony' was only added to the so-called 'House of Juliet' in 1936, and named as such to attract tourists. While the house is open to visitors, it has no connection to the characters. Discovering Verona's treasures is a much more rewarding experience.
Visit the bridges of Ponte Pietra and Ponte Scaligero for some of the best views of Verona. The 14th-century Castelvecchio houses Verona's Art Museum. See the ancient Roman gate of Porta Borsari, which dates back to the 1st-century AD. Explore the church of San Fermo Maggiore, which unites the Romanesque and Gothic styles of architecture, and the magnificent Verona Cathedral ( ), which features a marble Romanesque façade by the Veronese architect Nicolò. The ancient Roman Theatre, which is also home to the Archaeological Museum, still hosts operas on warm summer nights.
Travellers set on seeing a good variety of sights in Verona should purchase the Verona Card for either one or three days to get discounts on attractions and access to public transport. The cards can be bought from retailers participating in the initiative, tobacconists in Verona and tourist information offices.
No direct flights from Heathrow to this Destination