Many people know the city of Verona from the story of Romeo and Juliet, written in the play of the famous English playwright Shakespeare. However, neither the history nor the interest of Verona begins in the 16th century, which is the time when the fictional tragedy takes place.
Verona has been in its current location, in the northern Veneto region of Italy, for close to 2,600 years. There is evidence of settlement in the middle of the sixth century BC. Due to its central location, the city passed through many hands leading to its destruction and prosperity several times throughout history. It is so central to European history that its Old Town was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000.
However, don’t think that Verona is just history and nothing else. It may be portrayed as a place frozen in time until you really get to know it. Beautiful buildings, gardens, nature, concerts, and performances in the Arena di Verona and more, all make it a top tourist destination.
Verona is a historic city with a heritage that rivals the antiquity of European cities, including Rome and Milan. The peoples and armies that passed through here, the buildings that were built, the gardens that were designed, and the palaces where destinies were decided, all of these present to the visitor a rich and varied European history, one that will give you a deep look at the heritage of the region.
There is no doubt that the hottest tourist destination in Verona, similar to the Colosseum in Rome, is the Arena of Verona. It is a Roman amphitheater, one of the three largest in the world and one of the best preserved. It is known that it is still active, and concerts are held there every summer by the best musicians and opera singers in the world.
The arena was built in 30 AD, several decades before the Colosseum in Rome, and is better preserved than it and functions much more frequently. The Colosseum remains in ruins as a tourist attraction and nothing else, while the Arena regularly hosts open-air concerts (which is much better than the gladiator fights and bloodbaths that were held there in the past).
The arena used to be able to accommodate over thirty thousand spectators, and even today it hosts concerts on a particularly large scale. Throughout the whole year, you can come to the arena and be impressed by the building and its level of preservation, and in the summer months, you can buy tickets for the variety of concerts held there.
This square is considered one of the most important tourist attractions in the city, as it is in the heart of the old city of Verona (a world heritage site, did we mention it?), and was formerly the Verona equivalent of the Roman Forum. That is, this was the place where the inhabitants of the city gathered, here the announcements from the emperor were played, and here the trade was conducted. This is the reason for the centrality of the piazza, and this is why many of the most important historical buildings in the city are concentrated here.
Among the buildings that populate the square you can find the Lamberti Tower (see below), Palazzo Maffeia, and more. The variety of buildings together with the cafes, restaurants, and galleries of the place leads to an amazing combination of old and new. Highly recommended place.
This impressive tower, located on the market square mentioned above, is the tallest in Verona and rises to a height of 84 meters. The interesting point about the tower, apart from the fact that it is a significant landmark in the history of the city (it got its current form and underwent extensive renovation in the fifteenth century), is that you can see in it a variety of styles that dominated the city in different periods. The tower is built from several sections, each of which is built in a different style.
Like many towers of the same period, the Lamberti tower also boasts a large dial clock located on the side facing the city’s central piazza. Above the clock is the octagonal head of the tower, which can be climbed using steep steps. The marble arches that adorn the top of the tower allow for a bird’s eye view of the city, a point of view that not many visitors to Verona get.
This castle will be hard for you to miss, as it rises on a hill located on the eastern bank of the Adige river in the city’s central location, in a very prominent position. It is no wonder that it was built precisely at this point. The place, which used to have a church, dominates the city in a very strategic way, and therefore also allows for a good defense of it.
As mentioned, originally there was a church dedicated to Peter on the hill, until the castle (named after the church) was built on the hill in the thirteenth century. The castle was active for more than four hundred years, protecting the city and its inhabitants very effectively. Today it is not possible to enter the castle rooms themselves, but you can still walk around the gardens and the passages of the hill and the castle and admire this work of maritime splendor – this interim, which is still at its peak (see below regarding the cable car of Petros Castle).
In terms of views over the city, this is one of the best places. Similar to Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, also from the Castle of Peter you will look at the city from a panoramic vantage point, elevated and across the river. It is not recommended to give up.
This is another, and a probably more important, castle built on the banks of the Adige River. This is a building that was built in the middle of the fourteenth century and was an extremely important pillar in the city’s defenses and fortifications. It is considered the most significant achievement of the Scaliger family, an aristocratic family that ruled the city for about 125 years, in the 13th and 14th centuries. This castle, unlike Petros Castle, is open to the public, and you can enter it and admire the massive construction. In addition, there is a museum in the place where there are various displays and exhibitions related to the history of the city in general and the castle in particular.
Besides the castle, you can also find next to the castle its bridge (Ponte di Castelo Vecchio), a very massive bridge that crosses the river and allows access between the castle and the city. From the first glance, you can see that the bridge was built to protect the river and the castle, as the multitude of positions in it as well as its formidable massiveness strongly convey this. In order to illustrate the achievement of the Scaliger family, we note that when it was built it was the longest bridge of its kind in the world.
Scattered along the bridge are several battle towers that you can climb to get an elevated vantage point over the city and the river, and you can also get off the bridge to go to the banks of the Adige River. Don’t miss a photo session here, in one of the most photogenic spots in the city.
In these tombs were buried a number of kings from the famous Scaliger dynasty of Verona (and of the Veneto province as a whole, with the exception of Venice), whose influence on the city exceeds that of any other ruler. The tombs are built in a distinctly Gothic style, on the black iron lattices, the many pointed towers, and their strangeness among the classical Verona buildings.
There are five tombs in total, where Cangrande I, Mastino II, Alberto II Cansignorio, and Giovanni are buried, all of the Scaliger family. In the tomb of the latter, you can see a coffin and a death mask of Giovanni, designed shortly after his death.
If you are not yet tired of comparisons to Rome, you will surely be happy to know that Verona also boasts a triumphal arch built in the first century AD (yes, similar to Titus’ triumphal arch in Rome, and the much later Constantine’s Gate, which is located near the Colosseum). This arch was built by the Gavi family, a Roman noble family, and was an important landmark in the city. In ancient times it stood at the end of Via Postorium or Via Sacra, and in the Middle Ages, it formed the main entrance gate to the walled old city.
During the Napoleonic conquests, the arch was severely damaged, and only in the twentieth century was it restored to its original form. Today it can be easily admired, as it is right next to the old castle mentioned above. At night the arch is tastefully lit, which makes strolling near it especially romantic.
If you want to see the real thing, i.e. a gate that is between houses and used to be one of the main entrances to the city, then Bursari Gate is the place for you. The gate with the double arch was the entrance door to the Roman street of ancient Verona, which stretched along the city from east to west. Its importance in ancient times explains its height (it is the height of the neighboring buildings, which are three stories high) and the many decorations that adorn it.
Similar to other cities in Italy (such as Padua), Verona also has the Piazza della Signoria, which is close to the beating heart of the old city and contains many of the homes of the most important people in the city. In Verona, this piazza is close to the aforementioned market square, which illustrates how central it is.
The square began to be built in the Middle Ages, also during the time of the Scaliger dynasty. At its center is a statue and fountain dedicated to Dante Alighieri, the famous Florentine poet who wrote the Divine Comedy (among other things) in the thirteenth century and laid the foundations for the modern Italian language. However, the statue was only placed there in the seventeenth century, while many of the buildings in the piazza are much earlier. Examples of important historical buildings that still stand today in the area of the piazza are the District Palace (Piazza della Regione), and the Cansignio Palace which was the center of control of the Scaligeri dynasty, the Mayor’s Palace (Palazzo del Podestà) and many more.
In addition to the enormous historical value of the square, it is currently used as a place where street performances and organized concerts are held with a relatively high frequency. It is recommended to find out in advance what is happening in Piazza Adonis during the time you are visiting Verona.
Jews lived in Verona starting from the ninth century AD. They experienced upheavals and crises, ups and downs, and today the community in Verona is one of the smallest in Italy. However, and in accordance with its glorious past and the large and prosperous community that was once here, you can visit the synagogue (the only one that survived out of four that were once here) and get an impression of the history of one of the oldest Jewish communities in Europe.
The current synagogue began to be built in the middle of the nineteenth century, and its construction was only completed towards the middle of the twentieth century due to the lack of a budget and the rest of Bishin’s capital. It is currently located in Via Portici 3, a large, impressive, and representative building, where you can pray on Saturdays and holidays, and in its museum, you can learn about the community’s heritage.
This is one of the most recommended palaces to visit in Verona, both for the building itself and for its gardens, which are one of the most impressive and authentic examples of Italian gardens. This renaissance building was built as an extension of an existing building during the sixteenth century, and it was built in the shape of an H that allowed the existence of concerts and performances in the inner garden of the palace. It became the permanent residence of the Philharmonic Academy of Verona, and its walls were decorated with paintings in the Rococo style.
The gardens of Giusti Palace are Italian gardens and are considered the most beautiful gardens in Europe in the Renaissance style. They are especially recommended for garden lovers, as their beautiful design has attracted famous visitors from all over the world. Among these, we can name Mozart, Goethe, Emperor Joseph II, and many more. The gardens are designed around eight separate squares, with each square having its own style, design, and fountain. In addition, the gardens are an ideal place to view hanging terrace gardens, as well as a labyrinth garden that was once a place, and was restored in the mid-twentieth century.
Those who visit Verona will discover quite a few points of interest and attractions, which make it an unusual destination and a place not to be missed. They tell its long-standing story and make the visit even more special. Some of them are very popular and may, especially in the summer months, be crowded with visitors and some, to our delight, a little less.
This is the largest piazza in Verona, and together with the market square and the piazza of the lords, it completes the triangle of the most important piazzas in Verona. This is one of the main attractions of the city, partly because this piazza is next to the Arena of Verona. This is the reason why many come to Piazza Bra in order to take pictures against the photogenic background of the Arena and the buildings next to it.
Besides the arena, you will find several other historical buildings in the piazza that you will not want to miss. The huge Gran Guardia Palace, whose arches challenge even those of the nearby Arena and which has been a gathering place for soldiers for centuries, and the neo-classical Palazzo Barbieri, which is now the City Hall, are examples of beautiful buildings in the square. On top of that, the piazza is full of restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and more. In short, it is one of the perfect places to spend a particularly touristy afternoon in Verona.
This iridescent and colorful street connects two of the most important piazzas of Verona – Piazza Bara and the market square. Three-story buildings border this narrow street on both sides, with the lower floor containing stores of a variety of well-known international brands and boutiques. This street used to be the beating heart of the old city, and public access was only widened after several palaces here were destroyed during the 14th century.
Although it is a crowded tourist experience (certainly in the summer months and around the Christmas period), it is one that should not be missed. In any situation where you feel overwhelmed by the rush, you can slip into a side alley and hope to meet a stylish Verona walking with his tiny puppy.
So here we are at last. The famous house, with the famous balcony, where one of the famous scenes in Shakespeare’s tragic play, Romeo and Juliet, takes place. It should be noted that the story was first written by the writer Luigi da Porto, and only later was it adapted into a play by Shakespeare. The tiny stone balcony, which comes directly from the room and stands out on the face of the empty building – from balconies with the exception of it, has been inspiring for hundreds of years in loving couples visiting the place, Via Cappello (Via Cappello 23).
If you also received inspiration for your relationship from the romantic Italian couple of the 16th century (which did not exist and was not created), you are invited to come here, enjoy the many items displayed in the building, touch the right breast of the statue of Julia placed in the place (virtuous, somewhat disturbing, for true love ) and see the hundreds of love inscriptions engraved on the spot. There is no doubt that this is one of the hottest points of interest in the city.
If you’re already in the mood, a private house located near Juliet’s balcony is considered by fans of the couple to be the home of Romeo’s family (the Montague family). There is no real basis for this among the researchers of the period, but this does not prevent many fans of the genre from visiting the place. In any case, today there is a restaurant on the ground floor of the building, so you can even enter the house itself.
In the past, Petros Castle hosted the art students of Verona, and in order to help them climb to the classrooms that are up the hill, the cable car leading from the bottom of the castle to the top was built. During the Second World War, its use was stopped, and it returned to operation only about three years ago, in 2017. The carriage made of glass will take you 55 meters high at a very steep angle, to the very top of the castle. The ascent (about 160 meters long) takes about a minute and a half, during which you can watch Verona unfolding towards you in a spectacular panoramic view.
You can purchase a round-trip ticket (costing about two euros per person), or alternatively purchase a one-way ticket and go down the hill at ease, with Verona looking at you from different angles. It is the perfect combination between a classic Verona experience and a fun attraction that both adults and children can enjoy.
Verona is close to many sites, which can be combined when visiting it (whether you choose it as part of a star trip or not). You can spend the night there for a few days and from there you can go to cities, lakes and special sites, and you can also come to it for a short visit when traveling to another, more distant destination.
Many Israelis are familiar with Lake Garda, as it is considered one of the favorite destinations for family trips in Europe (similar to the Black Forest). Although Italy in general and the province of Veneto, in particular, are dotted with countless lakes, Lake Garda has a place of honor at the top of the list. First, it is the largest in Italy. Verona is southeast of the lake, and a not long drive from there will bring you to it. A lake is a perfect place for a day trip outside of Verona, both for history buffs, nature-buffs, and attraction buffs.
We will mention here only the famous town of Sirmione, which is the most well-known of the towns that live on the shore of the lake, and also one of the closest to Verona. The historic quarter of the town protrudes into the lake, as it sits on a kind of peninsula and is surrounded on all sides by the water of the lake. Among the many historical sites and points of interest in the town are Scaligeri Castle (yes, the same family), a wide variety of attractions, shops, healing springs, and more, as well as the ancient wooden houses in the old quarter of the city, recognized as part of a world heritage site of UNESCO.
Ella is a charming little town north of Verona, one that would make a perfect day trip for you if you’re tired of the crowds of tourists that visit Verona. You can reach it by train (fast or suburban), with the journey taking a maximum of 45 minutes. It is a not-so-well-known destination, which makes it ideal for those who seek peace and non-touristy places. In addition, it is a perfect place for shopping, as the silk produced here is one of the most famous in the world.
If you decide to take a day trip to Ella (whether you visit only it or other towns in the area), there are quite a few things to see. Of course, this is not the place to expand, but we can mention a few of them. Its many baroque palaces are a direct product of the city’s wealth derived from its famous silk production. These palaces are worth a visit, and there is no doubt that you will be most impressed by them. The Museum of the Ancient Piano (Museo del pianoforte Antico) is a must-see for music lovers, as it houses the pianos of Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and Schubert. The ancient center (Centro Storico) of these is one of the best preserved in northern Italy, so it is also worth a special visit.
Many cities in northern Italy – Venice, Trento, Bologna, Milan, Padua, and many others, are all within driving distance from Verona and can be reached as part of a day trip. It is recommended to choose one topic, region, or city, and focus your efforts on them. There is so much to do in the area of Verona and these cities, that you probably won’t have time to do it in one day or even in one trip. Choose the things you want to focus on, and save the others for other times you will visit the area.