A visit to northern Italy would not be the same without a trip to romantic Verona. Even Shakespeare knew that!
We decided that half a day in the city would suffice. We combined it with a few hours in Brescia. Read more about our trip to Brescia here >>
Back to Verona. During our visit the city was boiling because of the heat. Maybe it would have been a better idea to go there during spring or fall. Nonetheless, the city with its ancient architecture, delicious gelato, cozy alleys, and tasty food left an impression. Sometimes I felt like I had gone back in time. I would definitely go there again!
Verona: A Short History
With its early history remaining very much in the dark, its territory became Roman in about 300 BC. Verona became a Roman colonia in 89 BC, and then a municipium in 49 BC. Verona’s importance grew because it was at the intersection of several roads. As is the case with northern Italy in general, Verona has a very long and colorful history. Here are some of the main peculiarities:
- The Plague killed around 33,000 people (over 60 % of the population) in 1630–1631.
- There is something called Veronese bell-ringing art. Developed in eighteenth century, this is a specific way of ringing church bells.
- The Verona Trial took place on 8 and 10 January 1944. During the trial six members of the Grand Council of Fascism were sentenced (five of them to death, one to 30 years in prison). They had voted for the removal of Benito Mussolini from power. One of the sentenced was Mussolini’s son-in-law Galeazzo Ciano.
The city is one of the main tourist destinations in Italy. It is famous for its artistic heritage, several annual fairs, shows, and operas. Verona is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Three of Shakespeare’s plays are set here: Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Taming of the Shrew.
Top Things To Explore In Verona
We suspect that there are a lot more things to experience in Verona than what we saw during our few hours in the city. Here’s a list of the attractions that we enjoyed the most.
This Roman amphitheater was built in the first century and it is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind. In ancient times nearly 30,000 people fit in the arena. It is still in use today and it is famous for it large-scale opera performances.
Admission to the arena was 10 € per person. We don’t think it was worth the price, as a stage was being prepared inside the arena and we couldn’t really see or feel the history of the place.
Piazza delle Erbe (Market’s square)
During the time of the Roman Empire this was the town’s forum. Nowadays it is a colorful fruit and vegetable market that bustles with activity. Historic buildings and monuments surround the square. These include the the ancient town hall, the Torre dei Lamberti, the Casa dei Giudici (”Judges’ Hall”), the frescoed Mazzanti Houses, and the Baroque Palazzo Maffei.
In the center of the square there’s the fountain with a statue called “Madonna Verona”. The fountain dates back to 1368.
Castelvecchio And the Scaligero Bridge
Somehow we managed to miss this impressive bridge that was built most likely in 1354-1356. It is annexed to a castle. The story goes that the ruler of the time, Cangrande II della Scala, had the bridge built because he wanted to be able to escape angry citizens in the event of a riot.
The bridge remained untouched and in good condition until French troops destroyed the tower on the left bank in the late 18th century. The Germans destroyed it completely on April 24, 1945. A faithful reconstruction finished in 1951.
Ponte Pietra (the Stone Bridge)
The oldest bridge in Verona was completed 100 BC. Not far from the bridge lies the Roman theater of Verona. A big part of the bridge was destroyed by German troops in 1945. The bridge has since been rebuilt.
The streets leading to Ponte Pietra were very quaint indeed with an old-fashioned atmosphere. This is also where we found our dinner. At the Cappa Café we digged into typical Italian dishes: Jesper had ham and melon, Susann enjoyed a caprese salad with a glass of apreol spritz. That’s about as much holiday as it gets!
The One You Can Avoid: Juliet’s Balcony
Imagine crowds of people. And a fairly normal (albeit old) balcony. Is that enough to let the masses squash you? If not, then you can avoid Juliet’s balcony and house. We just took a quick look at the courtyard. It is actually possible to enter the house that dates back to the 13th century. If you want to pay for it.
Getting There And Back
Verona lies where the north-south rail line from the Brenner Pass to Rome intersects with the Milan-Venice railway. Therefore there is rail access to most of Europe. International, regional and local services serve the city. We took a direct train from Brescia.
The city also has an airport with many domestic and international flights.