If you just have 24 hours to explore Verona, Italy then you are in for a treat! That is the perfect amount of time to wander around its old streets, taste the local dishes, and see some of the sights.
Verona, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the setting for Romeo and Juliet, is one of the most enchanting cities I have had the pleasure of wandering. Verona appears to be frozen in time. When I first arrived via train from Rome I walked into Piazza Brá, and was face to face with the Verona Arena, a Roman amphitheater built nearly 2000 years ago.
The weather was sadly quite gray and chilly. I feel like I have a dark cloud following me, I haven’t had a bright sunny day which traveling in a long time. Living in England I have learned to just deal with it and be happy it isn’t actually raining!
To go inside of the Verona Arena it is €10, which to be honest, wasn’t worth it for me. I didn’t even take a single picture inside! I found it nice to admire from the outside, but the only way I would recommend someone to go inside is if they had the chance to see a performance there.
Piazza delle Erbe
Most of the day was spent wandering around the city, exploring the various piazze, churches, and beautiful buildings. Below is a picture of Piazza delle Erbe, at the heart of Verona there is a lot to see in this area. There were markets, other nearby points of interests (Juliet’s balcony, Scaligeri Tombs, Torre dei Lamberti, and Piazza dei Signori)
Torre dei Lambert
Of course, I went in a tower. When don’t I? Well, this beauty is called Torre dei Lamberti and is 84 meters high and was first built in 1172. It offers 360 degree view of Verona any day of the year besides Christmas. Check the official site about visiting times and costs.
Also known as Scaliger Bridge, is a fortified bridge built around the 1350’s. Normally bridges are not that exciting, but this one is different. Cangrande II della Scala was a Lord of Verona at the time and had the bridge built to help him escape to Germany if his people decided to revolt.
Why would they do this? Well, he wasn’t a very nice ruler. His nickname Can Rabbioso (“Raging Dog”) should be a good indicator. He impoverished the city and was eventually assassinated by his own brother.
While it is actually not known if Shakespeare ever visited Verona, he did use it as the setting of Romeo and Juliet. This building is known as Juliet’s House and the balcony was a later addition. Many tourists flock here to see the balcony and to give a bronze statue of Juliet a bit of a rub on her left boob (it is meant to give you luck in finding your true love).
One of my favorite parts of the day was crossing the river to Castel San Pietro, which unfortunately was undergoing renovations, but you could still climb the stairs to get breathtaking views of Verona.
After too many stairs and a delicious gelato later I continued my wandering. I decided to end my sightseeing at Giardino Giusti (Giusti Gardens). The property where the garden and villa are today was once used to dye wool.
In the 16th century, Agostino Giusti, a very well connected wealthy patron of the arts, began having the land transformed into what you can see today. The villa was built from existing buildings and the Renisance garden transformed. Even Mozart visited the grounds when traveling through Italy in the 1700s.
Visitors can visit on a self-guided tour any day of the week while guided tours happen every Saturday. Check the official site for the latest news.
Trying local delicacies
The evening with dinner at Ostaria Vecchia Fontanina (Piazzetta Chiavica, 5). I had a ragu made with horse meat (sorry Mom!) that was really delicious. I also tried a pasta made with nettles, which let’s just say two bites was adventurous enough for me.
Have you ever been to Verona? What was your favorite experience? Share your recommendations in the comments so I can add them to the map for others to enjoy!
Traveling around Italy?
Italy holds a special place in my heart as the first European country I visited and lived in. Verona is very strategic location and gives you a lot of options for what to explore next. If you plan on driving around the country don’t forget your International Driver’s License. If the idea of driving in a foreign country scared the beads out of you then you will be happy to know that the trains are affordable and my favorite way to get around.
If you are heading east after Verona, I highly recommend a stop a Venice (of course) as well as Trieste (especially for castle lovers).
Food lovers who plan on heading south of Verona, don’t miss out on at least a day in Bologna. Try the food, wander the streets, climb the towers, and live like Italians in one of the most underrated Italian cities.
Verona is also a great stop before heading north to Lake Garda. If traveling this way, don’t forget to keep an eye out for castles dotted along the highway as well as a quick stop in Riva del Garda. I would reserve more of my time for Trento which is a stunning city along the southern end of the dolomites.