Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene… The city that inspired perhaps the greatest love story of all time, (Romeo and Juliet of course) is, without a doubt one of the most beautiful towns in all Italy: it’s not for nothing that thousands of star crossed lovers visit the town year after year. But perhaps you’re not sure where to start? Here from Civitatis, we bring you the best of what to see in Verona, a little bit of its history, and some of the most typical dishes you can enjoy once you’re there!
The History of Verona
Located in the Italian province of Veneto, the old town of Verona has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Monuments of ancient times with thousands of years of history, links with Napoleon and other figures of note are testament to the heritage of this city.
Verona was at the axis of four of the main routes of the Ancient Roman Empire: the Via Gallica, Via Augusta, Vicum Veronensium and Via Postumia. In fact, given its privileged position, it was one of the favourite resting places of Julius Caesar himself.
A glorious period for the town of Verona between the 13th and 14th centuries was followed by the dominance of the Venetian Republic over the region, but it that was not the only time the city changed hands. It was occupied by Napoleon and his forces in 1797 and then following a popular uprising and the expulsion of the French, Verona then fell under the control of the Austrian empire. It would take until the end of the 19th century for these lands to officially become part of the Kingdom of Italy.
Of all these fascinating historical chapters, an stunning legacy has been left behind, amazing visitors to this day.
The Verona arena, an incredible Roman Amphitheatre
In its day, up to 30,000 spectators were able to pack the Verona Arena -dimensions that make it one of the largest Roman amphitheatres in Italy. It is second only to the Colosseum in Rome and the amphitheatre in Capua.
Unusually, the monument was about to fall into ruin after a terrible earthquake in 1117. However, restoration works that begun in the Renaissance period mean it’s a monument that can still be enjoyed today: a worthy first entry on our list of what to see in Verona.
Juliet’s house: a must-see in Verona
Verona is synonymous with Romeo and Juliet. The famous Shakespearean tragedy has made this city a perfect place for a lovers’ getaway. And, although the play didn’t exactly have a happy ending… the love story remains one of the best loved of the bard’s works, and a tale known around the world.
If you’re not sure what to see in Verona, and there’s just one thing you take away from this guide, it should be this: Juliet Capulet’s house is unmissable. Near the Piazza delle Erbe, this 12th-century building that belonged to a family with the surname “dal Capello”. Given the similarity, it is believed to have been the inspiration for the English playwright. However, it must be said that the famous Balcony wasn’t built until the 20th century… Suspicious, but you can get to the bottom of it on the free tour of Verona.
Castelvecchio, Verona’s castle
Another of the essential monuments to see in Verona is the castle, known as Castelvecchio: without a doubt, the most spectacular medieval building in Verona. Visiting this fortress will tell you everything you need to know about the Scaligeri family: the noble line that dominated this city between the 13th and 14th centuries. In fact, the castle itself was built by order of Cangrande II della Scala with the aim of defending his city.
The church of Santa María Antica, the ‘home’ of the Scaligeri
And we continue around the city with the lords of Scala: in the grounds of the church of Santa María Antica you can discover the private cemetery where the mortal remains of this family rest. The Gothic-style funeral monuments are known for their great variety of sculptures and ornaments: an artisitc legacy at home in Verona!
The Verona Cathedral
As you might expect from an Italian city with such history, Verona has a beautiful cathedral that is well worth visiting. Built in honour of Santa María Matricolare, like the Arena in Verona, it was seriously affected by the 12th century earthquake, which is why it has undergone several renovations.
Inside the temple, keep your eyes open for the painted vault reminiscent of Agrippa’s Pantheon in Rome.
Piazza delle Erbe, one of Verona’s most beautiful squares
The Maffei Palace with its exquisite Baroque decoration, the Gardello tower with one of the oldest mechanical clocks in Europe, the House of Merchants and its solemn brick exterior, the Madonna Verona fountain… These are just some of the monuments that you will find in the piazza delle Erbe: a must-see!
And what’s more, this is where you’ll find the Lamberti Tower, the highest point in the city at 84 metres high. If you’re asking yourself what to see in Verona, from here you can see it all!
Food in Verona
If there’s one star product in the city’s cuisine, it’s the pandoro. This sweet treat, typical over Christmas, was invented in the area back in the 19th century. Did you know that its name comes from the word for ‘gold leaf’? Do not hesitate to visit one of the many restaurants in Verona specialised in this delicious sponge sprinkled with icing sugar.
More of a savoury person? Well, the area is also know for its risottos, there’s hundreds of kinds to try!
Population: 257.943 inhabitants.
Size: 206 km2.