Known as “Little Rome”, Verona has a rich cultural past but is mostly known for Shakespeare’s famous love story Romeo and Juliet. Verona was founded sometime in the 1st century BC, which is evidenced by the prominent Roman remains in that you see in city. These include the amphitheater, the Arco dei Gavi, the Porta dei Borsari, and the ancient theater on the left bank of the Adige river. We stopped in Verona during our fall trip to Northern Italy. Located between Venice and Lake Garda it was perfect for a one night stop to explore the city and check out the Christmas markets. You could easily spend 3 or 4 days here exploring the nearby wineries but if you are short on time this is how to spend one day in Verona.
What is in this Post
One day in Verona Itinerary, Things to do and places to see!
Start with a Visit Juliet’s House (Casa di Giulietta)
We arrived in the evening and the first thing Ms. Peachy wanted to visit was Juliet’s House (Casa di Giulietta). It is also very close to the city center and closed when we got there but we took a peek from outside the gates. (More photos of Juliet’s House and the lesser known Romeo’s house here). Located in a small courtyard, the iconic balcony is unmistakable as it protrudes from the large 14th-century house. Probably one of the most famous attractions in Verona, the house is said to have inspired Shakespeare, even though there’s no evidence that he ever visited Verona. But that doesn’t stop thousands of hopeless romantics from visiting the house to rub on the bronze statue of Juliet for luck and love!
Start the morning with a visit to Verona Cathedral officially called Duomo Cattedrale di Santa Maria Matricolare. Located on Piazza Vescovado, between two bridges next to a prominent bend on the southern bank of the Adige river, it is another site you can’t miss. It is a gorgeous Romanesque cathedral with a striped façade. Don’t miss the beautiful wall paintings and preserved artwork by Titian, the most prominent member of the 16th-century Venetian school.
Basilica Di Santa Anastasia
Next walk over about 5 minutes to the beautiful church that tops the list of things to see in Verona – a 13th-century Basilica di Santa Anastasia. The biggest attraction in Sant’Anastasia is the famous fresco by Pisanello, “St. George & the Princess”. Its gorgeous red Veronese marble pillars and the 72-meter bell tower are equally impressive.
Walk on the Stone bridge (Ponte Pietra)
The arched Ponte Pietra (pietra means stone in Italian) is the oldest bridge in Verona, built during the years of Roman rule. It has been damaged and rebuilt more than once due to floods and war. Two of its arches (the white stone arches in the photo) are of original Roman material. The brick arches date from a reconstruction during the 1500s. Ponte Pietra links the old part of Verona, between the Duomo and the church of Sant’Anastasia on the city side with the Roman Theater, Castel San Pietro, and the churches of Santo Stefano and San Georgio on the far bank. Walk on the bridge for the beautiful views of towers, church domes of the city of Verona.
Dante’s Square (Piazza Dei Signori)
Make your way back to Piazza dei Signori, which is one of the most beautiful squares in Verona. The square is also sometimes called Dante’s Square because of the large statue of Dante Alighieri in the center of the square erected in 1865. The large public square is between the Torre dei Lamberti and Arche Scaligeri is called called the Lords Square in English. When the Scaglieri family ruled Verona, this square was the heart of the city and a major gathering place. Magnificent 14th-century arches and beautiful old palaces surrounding the space – buildings include the council Lodge or Loggia del Consiglio (which dates back to 1476), the Palazzo del Podesta (home of the famous Della Scalla family) among others.
Torre dei Lamberti, the tallest medieval tower in Verona. You can actually climb the 83-meter tall tower and enjoy amazing, sweeping views of the city, just like the noble members of the Lamberti family when the tower was constructed in 1172. If you don’t feel like you can climb the 368 stairs to the top, worry not – there’s also an elevator inside.
Arche Scaligeri is a burial site with 5 gorgeous Gothic monuments behind a wrought iron gate.
Piazza Delle Erbe
Piazza Delle Erbe, is another Verona must see, literally less than 100 meters west of the Piazza Dei Signori. It’s a beautiful gate with a real whalebone hanging in the arch. Exotic items and rare spices were sold here in the square. Today, Piazza delle Erbe still serves as Verona’s Market Square, with a produce and flower market held there every day. There is a gorgeous statue of Madonna Verona in the center that dates back to 380 AD. You can find many stores and cafes here.
Visit the ancient Arena
Verona’s ancient Arena is a gorgeous Roman amphitheater, where you can experience opera the way it’s meant to be experienced. It is capable of accommodating 30,000 people who came from far and wide to attend theatrical performances and major sports events of the time. Built in the 1st century AD it has also hosted live concerts by Ms. Peachy’s favorite One Direction… Whitney Houston, Paul McCartney and other stars. Arena di Verona is a gorgeous, immaculately preserved Roman amphitheater located on a Piazza Bra along with a monument to Vittorio Emanuele II. Shouldn’t take tou more than 15 to 20 minutes to explore. Then walk down the charming street lined with other remarkable historic buildings such as the beautiful Chiesa di San Nicolò all’Arena, whose front resembles classical Greek temples.
Stop for lunch at Piazza Bra
With so many great choices you can’t go wrong with a lunch stop anywhere in one of the squares in Verona but since we are on Piazza Bra, Ristorante Olivo Pizzeria is where we stopped.
See Porta Borsari
Located at the end of Corso di Porta Borsari, is an ancient Roman gate that once marked the southern entrance into Verona. It’s a beautiful example of Roman taste for theatrical scenes, even in civil buildings. During Roman times, you would have to enter the city of Verona through these gates after paying your their tolls.
Photo source David Bramhall via Flickr
Visit Castelvecchio Museum and Bridge
After lunch make your way to the well-preserved medieval castle overlooking the river, with tall red-brick walls and monumental turrets at each of the corners. Built by the Della Scala family under Cangrande II in 1356, the castle primarily served as a military structure. The interior houses a museum with a vast collection of medieval sculptures, paintings, and ancient weapons. This castle was build using distinct red-colored bricks and has an adjoining bridge that connects the two sides of the city divided by the Adige River. This bridge is also referred to as Ponte Scaligero and is reminiscent of castle fortifications. Once you’ve crossed the bridge, stroll along the river until you reach the next bridge over, Ponte della Vittoria. You can walk along the bridge to head back to Verona and explore if you have more time.
Photo source Kosala Bandara via Flickr
Walk down the Lungo Adige (the banks of the River Adige)
If you have more time walk along the banks of the River Adige and enjoy the beautiful hills and colors of Verona. It was a beautiful fall day when we were there and loved the splashes of yellow everywhere. Maybe it was the romance in the air, the ancient structures or those yellow walls, I fell in love with Verona in a day!
Enjoy a traditional Veronese Dinner
Visit a traditional Osteria under one of the old porticoes. Every Italian region has its own culinary heritage, and Verona is no exception. Traditional dishes in Verona include the Baccalà – salted cod served with polenta and pasta e fagioli (pasta with beans). We had local risotto, rich bowls of stew with polenta, and soft potato gnocchi.
Explore the Christmas Markets (if you are visiting during Christmas season)
Christmas Markets in Italy are popular both with the locals and visitors from Europe and the UK. The markets known in Italian as Mercatino di Natale are not as numerous or on the same grand scale as the network of Christmas markets in Germany. Nevertheless, a visit to an Italian Holiday Market is one to remember, if you are in during November or December months you don’t want to miss Christmas Market in Verona. It is usually held at Piazza dei Signori. Photos from our Italian Christmas Market visit are here.
Best time to visit Verona
Summer is always a popular time to visit anywhere in Italy. June to August is a great time to visit Verona when you can experience the Verona Arena Opera. They have such spectacular evening performances in the Roman era amphitheater during the Opera Season. We visited during November and the crowds were less and the weather was still great. And a bonus we got to visit the Christmas markets.
Where to stay in Verona
If you find yourself in Verona, I highly recommend a stay at the Escalus Luxury Suites. Named after the character Escalus, the Prince of Verona, in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Escalus Luxury Suites Hotel is an all-suite hotel located steps from the Roman amphitheater in the center of Verona. Each apartment suite at Escalus Luxury Suites Hotel is chic and elegant with colorful accents and luxury linens. The suite was spacious and accommodated our family of four and we woke up to a scrumptious breakfast in the morning before setting out to explore the city of love. We spent two nights in this boutique hotel part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World Collection. See here for other family friendly hotels in Verona.
You might like – Why Northern Italy in November is a great idea, How to see Beautiful Bergamo in a day, Getting lost in Venice and other posts from Italy.
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