Visiting charming Verona

Posted on: 23 February 2010 by Mark O'haire

If music is the food of love then Verona during opera season is the perfect romantic getaway.

As the setting for William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the 14th century, Verona has since become one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. However, beyond Verona’s literary notoriety, this stunning city has plenty more to offer.

For every Shakespearean-inspired landmark, such as the Romeo and Juliet balcony, Veneto’s largest city boasts another breathtaking building from the Roman and Medieval Ages when opulence and wealth, and how to display it, was everything. The Arena di Verona, perhaps the most famous of all its landmarks, is a remarkable monument sitting in the Piazza Bra. Built in 30AD with seating for 20,000 people, it is now one of the world’s largest, surviving ampitheatres and continues to host concerts and operas throughout June, July and August. Outside of these months, for a minimal change, it is still possible to pay this remarkable monument a visit and take in the breathtaking views from the top.

Other monuments & landmarks

The 15th century Loggia del Consiglio in the Piazza dei Signori is a stunning example of Renaissance architecture. Former home of the Verona’s City Council, it now displays statues featuring some the city’s most famous former residents.

Piazza Delle Erbe was the centre of Verona in Roman times and is now home to numerous market stalls, monuments and its remaining medieval buildings. Restaurants and bars are in abundance; locals can be found dining here in preference to the more popular tourist haunts around the Piazza Bra. It is quite possible to while away an afternoon simply absorbing the frescoes which adorn the numerous, colourful buildings, such as the Casa Mazzanti which is a surviving reminder of the old Scaglieri Palace. Other monuments here include the Madonna Verona fountain, the Gardello tower and Palazzo Maffei.

The courtyard outside Juliet’s House, built in the 12th century, is another popular attraction. Hoards of tourists regularly gather here, hoping for a photograph with the bronze statue of Shakespeare’s heroine or to reenact the infamous Romeo and Juliet balcony scene. In keeping with the Shakespearean theme, visit the Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore, where the marriage of Romeo and Juliet supposedly took place.

Just outside the main town, on the north banks of the River Adige, is the Teatro Romano and Museo Archeologico. It is possible to visit the remains of the Roman Theatre, which date back to 1 AD, and concerts are still occasionally held here. Its neighbouring museum, set within a converted monastery, exhibits a number of statues and mosaics from the Greek and Roman times.

When to go

It is no coincidence that Verona attracts millions of visitors every year. It is well-situated, located close to Lake Garda and Venice, and serviced by a number of low-cost airlines with Verona International Airport nearby and Brescia Montichiari Airport within an hour’s drive.

Buses run regularly from Verona International Airport to Verona’s bus and train stations, the journey taking approximately 30 minutes. The main town itself is pedestrianised so hiring a car is only really necessary for accessing and exploring other parts of Northern Italy although there are direct trains from Verona Station to Venice and Desenzano on Lake Garda.

To avoid the crowds, and escalated prices, it is advisable to enjoy the city at a slower pace during spring and autumn. The bars, cafes and gelatarias are open all year around and the temperature, which can reach 86ºF during June and July, is much more comfortable.

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