Oh, the fair city of Verona. When people ask me about my favorite cities in Italy, I rarely think of places like Rome or Venice first. I usually think of smaller towns, like Soave, or even regions, like Puglia. And Verona always tops the list.
Known because of its connection to the famous story of Romeo & Juliet, Verona is the "city of love" (I mean, I guess Paris is, technically, but this is the Italian version). It's too-often overlooked by tourists making their way around Italy, but is totally worth a stop. It's a beautiful city, with fantastic restaurants, architecture, shopping, and plenty of things to do. It actually has Roman ruins just like Rome — and without the crowds! — to include a theater and yes, even its own colosseum!
If you're making your way around Italy and want something that still has a city vibe, plenty of history — that'll satisfy both war buffs and literature nerds — but is more off the beaten path, let me highly suggest Verona. You'll fall in love — with it, and maybe someone else!
WHAT WE LIKE:
- Archivio Bar: I totally love this very cool bar in the old town of Verona. Though they're easier to find in the larger cities, Italy isn't big on cocktails, so when you find a place that makes a good one, you stick to it, and Archivio is that place. They have a cocktail menu that changes often by the season, with fun, themed drink names — when we were there, all the drinks were inspired by the obscure Will Ferrell basketball movie, "Semi-Pro." Via Rosa, 3c, Verona
- Teatro Romano: These impressive Roman ruins cost just 1€ to enter, and are worth it even if you hate looking at ruins. They provide a great view of Verona from an elevated perspective, and, of course, are fun to explore! Via Regaste Redentore 2, Verona
- Giardino Giusti: I love these gardens in Verona. If you're looking for a great photo spot, it's definitely a gorgeous location, but it's also a beautiful, quiet place for a stroll. Like many spots in Verona, it has some great views of the city. The gardens are actually from the Renaissance era, of the 16th century, and include impressive walkways of cypress trees and hedge mazes. It costs 7€/adult to enter. Via Giardino Giusti, 2, Verona
- A walk along the river: We usually park near Giardino Giusti or the Roman theater (parking places included in the Google Map below!) and walk into Verona via Ponte Pietra, a great pedestrian bridge with gorgeous views of the city. It's nice to just walk along the river, people watch and take in the sites.
- Verona Arena: This Roman amphitheater is actually older than the Colosseum in Rome, built in the 1st century — 30 AD! It's a really impressive place, and it's a blast to visit because it's never as crowded as the one in Rome. If you really want to do it upright, the Arena actually hosts a number of operas, and you can even see modern day concerts there! Piazza Bra 1, Verona
- Shopping along via Giuseppe Mazzini: Even if you just want to window shop, via Giuseppe Mazzini right off the Verona Arena has a lot of great stores. Most of the stores are super upscale, like Louis Vuitton and Swavorski, but they're still fun to gawk inside. Grab some gelato and stare longingly at a bunch of expensive goods!
- Castel San Pietro: Hands down my favorite thing we've done in Verona is go up to this place. It's a castle that overlooks Verona's downtown — the river, the wall, everything. We went at ~the golden hour~, which is that hour right before sunset, when the light is nice and warm and beautiful, and saw tons of people up there snuggling and making out and just watching the sun set. It was so magical! It's definitely worth it if you want a great photo op, or just want to, you know, see beautiful stuff with your actual eyes, like back in the day.
- Juliet's balcony: So, I'm including this only because it's the biggest tourist attraction in Verona and I feel like I would be a little remiss without mentioning it. Verona is best known for being the city mentioned in Romeo & Juliet. Though the story itself is not real, it is based on facts from the Veneto region, and there is a fake "Juliet's balcony" in Verona you can visit. It's most well known for having a statue of Juliet where you rub her boob for good luck. This never appealed to me, but maybe you'll want to swing by. Via Giovanni Grioli, 9, Verona
- Christmas Market: If you're in Verona during the right time of year, they actually have a decent Christmas market. Grab some vin brulé, definitely grab a pretzel/crudo/cheese sandwich (it's amazing) and just soak up the fun Christmas atmosphere.
Photos and text copyright © 2018, Katie Currid. All rights reserved.