Verona preserves wonders rich in history, among the bends of its river, Adige. A walk through the historic city center, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, allows visitors to admire the majesty of these works: Arena, Castelvecchio, Duomo and Roman Theater. Making Verona even more fascinating are the enchanting views that can be admired walking along the river or in its squares, where taverns and local restaurants offer a wonderful opportunity to stop and savor a good glass of wine from the nearby Valpolicella.
Verona is a small city, full of charm that deserves being visited strictly on foot, without haste, without timetables, following the itineraries that define its history, by getting lost in the streets, which draw the historic center and that contain the most beautiful views and the most interesting buildings.
Piazza Bra and Arena
Passing under the Bra Arch, there is a bright, wide square, called Piazza Bra, where ancient and modern blend together in a unique work. On the right is the paved Liston, the promenade that runs near restaurants and cafes with the new cast iron structures designed by Franco Zeffirelli.
On the left side, the square is bordered by the Gran Guardia, home to important exhibitions and events for the city. A little further on is the neoclassical Palazzo Barbieri, now the Town Hall, whose shape recalls that of a Greek temple.
The Arena, symbol of the Augustan Verona, erected in the first century AD, was for centuries the scene of gladiator fights. Today it hosts numerous concerts and shows, first and foremost the Lyrical Festival, which takes place every year during the summer period and stages works such as Aida, Carmen, Nabucco, the Barber of Seville, always renewing its titles and productions every season.
Built in the mid-fourteenth century by Cangrande della Scala, Castelvecchio had mainly defense and military functions until its last restoration in 1926, when the architect Paolo Scarpa made it the most important city museum.
The museum, arranged on three floors, includes 29 rooms of paintings, sculptures, weapons and archaeological finds. You cross all the Veronese art from the High Middle Ages until the eighteenth century: Pisanello, Girolamo dai Libri, Paolo Veronese are some of the most famous painters here hosted.
Leaving the museum of Castelvecchio, after admiring the Gavi Arch and walking along Corso Cavour, you reach the Roman gate of the Bórsari, main access to the city center, of which today remains only the spectacular external façade, which once passed, leads onto Corso Porta Borsari, frequented by tourists and Verona people strolling through shop windows, typical shops, elegant bars and quaint palaces.
Along the Corso there are the small church of San Giovanni in Foro and a little further on the left the Sgarzerie Arch, a beautiful courtyard with an archaeological area with Roman remains from the 1st century BC.
Piazza delle Erbe
The Forum, centre of city life during Roman times, was situated here. Piazza delle Erbe has continued to fill this same role for centuries: meeting place, home to the market, and also home to the city’s administration.
The square by day is animated by lively stalls, the legacy of an ancient market, where you buy typical food and wine products of the area, fruit, fresh flowers and souvenirs and the bustle of tourists who crowd it at all hours, want to take photographs, admire its beauty or to enjoy a coffee or an aperitif in one of the many bars surrounding the square.
The centre of the square contains the monuments that symbolise the different rulers of Verona: the most famous is the fountain, built using a Roman statue during Scaligeri rule and later known as the “Madonna Verona“. On the far side of the square are the 14th century Gardello Tower and the Baroque Palazzo Maffei. The courtyard of the Palazzo del Comune leads on to the Lamberti Tower with its suggestive panoramic views over the city.
Casa Mazzanti, which occupies the right side of the square is, instead, a set of houses whose construction dates back to the Middle Ages and is the largest example of houses decorated with frescoes, many of which are still visible, which let you imagine the wonder and glitz of the past.
This building, originally dating back to the 12th century, was owned for a long period by the Dal Cappello family, whose coat-of-arms is carved into the keystone of the courtyard inner archway. Identification of the name Cappello with that of Capuleti began the popular belief – already widespread during the last century – that this was the home of Juliet, mythical heroine of the Shakespeare play, set in Scaligeri Verona. Its current appearance is the result of radical restoration work (1936-1940), during which the windows, gothic-style doorway and famous balcony were all added to the interior facade.
Inside the house are furnishings from the 16th-17th centuries, frescoes, and paintings – all relating to the story of Romeo and Juliet – as well as Renaissance ceramics from Verona. A bronze statue of Juliet by sculptor Nereo Costantini stands in the courtyard.
Torre dei Lamberti
Built in 1172 with its 84 meters high and 368 steps, the tower is the tallest building in the city. Built in the ancient Roman forum, Piazza Erbe, it offers a truly incomparable 360 degree view of the entire historic center of Verona and its surroundings; a truly unique panorama.
Piazza dei Signori
The monuments in this square are linked to important periods in Verona’s history.
Entering from Piazza Erbe, to the right is the Palazzo del Comune (built in the 12th century), and the Scaligeri palace that was once the Tribunal. On the far side is the Palazzo del Governo, also built by the Scaligeri; while to the left is the loggia by Fra’ Giocondo (1476-1493), an elegant example of Renaissance architecture and home to the Council during Venetian rule.
The basement of the ex-Tribunal provides a suggestive archaeological journey, with remains that date from Roman times up to the 14th century. It also houses the temporary exhibitions held by the International Photography Centre, inaugurated in 1996.
Between the Church of Sant’Anastasia and the luxurious Hotel Due Torri, a small road leads to what is simply call Sottoriva. A cobbled street, whose sides run porches where taverns, restaurants and antique shops can be found; on the left side the arcades are interrupted by small passages that lead to stretches of Lungadige, from which you can see magnificent views of the Roman Theater and Castel San Pietro. The street ends in the Piazzetta Pescheria with the crenellated building that housed the old slaughterhouse, then Pescheria (today a small supermarket) and with the tables of some famous restaurants that animate the square.
The Theater is the oldest monument in Verona, built around the first century. BC. Originally it was used to attend performances of comedies and tragedies. Today the theater (of which only the auditorium, the steps, the arches of the lodges and remains of the scene remain) still hosts performances during the Veronese theatrical summer (Shakespeare Festival, Jazz Festival and several ballets). Next to the theater you can visit the Church of Santi Siro e Libera which stands on the steps and the Archaeological Museum of Verona.
Almost hidden by a small square, the Cathedral (“Duomo“) is undoubtedly the most beautiful and precious church in the city, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta. The façade is characterized by the fusion of the two Gothic and Romanesque styles, while the interior is solemn, majestic, full of works of art and frescoes. In the chapel Nichesola is preserved the altarpiece Assunta by Tiziano, which is also the only work of the artist present in the city. From inside the cathedral you can access the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Fonte, a small Lombard church, where a 12th century baptismal font is preserved. Next to it there is another church, that of Santa Elena, chosen by Dante for the public reading of his work Quaestio de Aqua et Terra. Also inside the Cathedral Complex, you can visit the Cloister of the Canons and the Canonic Museum, as well as the famous Capitolare Library, with its interesting collections of old books and codex kept on its shelves.
Events not to be missed at different times of the year
- Verona Antiquaria
- Verona in Love
- Carnival of Verona Bacanal del Gnoco
- Squares of Flavors
- Opera season of the Arena
- Veronese Theater Summer
- Festival of Beauty
- Fiera Cavalli
- Nuremberg Markets in Piazza dei Signori and the Mercato Vecchio courtyard
- Santa Lucia Markets in Piazza Bra
- Cribs Review from the World
- Verona Christmas Run
- New Year’s Eve in Piazza Bra
- Verona Marathon
- Giulietta & Romeo Half Marathon