“There is no world without Verona walls,
But purgatory, torture, hell itself.”
What do you think when I say “Verona”? Shakespeare, am I right? The town is the setting of Shakespeare’s legendary tragedy and today visitors flock to Verona in search of Romeo, Juliet, and all that. Everywhere you go you’ll find heart-shaped memorabilia and it seems like every second restaurant is named after the star-crossed lovers.
If Shakespeare isn’t your thing don’t let that deter you; once you step away from the hordes of tourists clustered outside Juliet’s balcony you’ll find a town brimming with charm. In fact, Verona may even be northern Italy’s loveliest town (though it’s a tough competition). With an arena older than the Colosseum, fascinating architecture and tasty local food and wine, Verona has everything you’re looking for.
Intrigued? Dive straight into this guide to discover how to spend a perfect day in Verona; what to see and do, where to eat, and where to find Verona’s best sunset bar.
Morning: Verona Arena
You’re in Verona! Kick off your day with a visit to the well-preserved Verona Arena. A Roman amphitheatre that’s even older than the Colosseum, Verona Arena dominates Piazza Bra in the heart of the historic town. In ancient times the arena housed nearly 30,000 people who came to see circus acts, processions, music, and gladiator fights.
Today Verona Arena houses a slightly more sedate event; an annual Summer Opera Festival. During the festival up to 15,000 viewers fill the amphitheatre to witness the internationally famous live performances. Isn’t it epic that this 2000-year-old arena is still in use today?
Tickets to Verona Arena are €10, and opera tickets start from €21.50.
Midday: Juliet’s House & Torre dei Lamberti
Even if you’re not a Shakespeare fan you can’t visit Verona and not check out its most famous attraction; Juliet’s House. The setting of one of the most famous scenes in the play, Juliet’s House routinely draws a crowd of fairy-dust romance-seeking visitors.
Truthfully, the house isn’t really related to the story. It was bought from the Cappello family by the city of Verona in 1905 and the similarity of their name to Capulet resulted in the site being declared ‘Juliet’s House’. Today, after that savvy move by the council, visitor’s come in droves to cluster around the statue of Juliet in the courtyard – touching her right breast is supposed to bring luck in love (not that she had much of that herself!).
Inside the house you’ll find a small museum collection, including the actual bed used in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 movie adaptation, and a well-maintained example of 14th-century architecture. Looking for love advice? Below Juliet’s famous balcony you’ll discover walls covered in graffiti, plasters, notes stuck with chewing gum and even sanitary pads all asking for guidance in love.
Tickets to Juliet’s House are €6.
Torre dei Lamberti
If there’s a tower in town, then friend, I’m going to climb it. Construction of Torre dei Lamberti began in 1172 and today the 84 metre high tower is one of Verona’s most popular attractions. Unusually for most medieval Italian towers there’s even an elevator that will shuttle you most of the way up, although there remains a few stairs to climb. But hey, the short climb is worth it for the panoramic view of the town and distant mountains that you’ll get from the top.
Tickets are €8.
Lunch: Trattoria Pane e Vino
You know me, friend; I’m a planner. When it comes to food I like to plan ahead and research spots that are off the beaten path or have great reviews. However, sometimes it’s nice to stumble across an inviting restaurant and discover a surprisingly lovely meal.
Ok, my co-adventurer was hangry and that’s why we stopped, but Trattoria Pane e Vino offered that for us; an unexpectedly great meal. The risotto special and ravioli we ordered were amazing, and the wine was definitely what we needed. If you’re looking for the perfect spot for lunch on your one day in Verona, then Trattoria Pane e Vino makes for a strong choice.
Afternoon: Roman Theatre & Castel San Pietro Funicular
By this point you’re probably ready for a lie-down but your day in Verona isn’t over yet! After lunch head away from the city centre to the Roman Theatre. The theatre was built in the 1st century BC and today lies in ruin with only partial remains of the steps and cavea visible.
While at the Roman Theatre make sure to check out the surprisingly good museum. I’m not always a huge museum fan, but you know what? I liked this one. The museum houses an extensive display of marble sculptures, bronze figurines and mosaics that give a fascinating insight into ancient Verona.
Tickets to the Roman Theatre are €4.50.
Castel San Pietro Funicular
You like a good viewpoint, right friend? Because I know the perfect place. For more stunning views of Verona head up the Castel San Pietro Funicular to the lookout. The funicular runs 159 metres in about 90 seconds, and hey, that saves you a long walk up the hill.
From the viewpoint you can see the Adige River flowing under the Ponte Pietra, the oldest bridge in Verona, and you can also spy the historic centre with its bell towers and impressive architecture. Return tickets for the funicular are €2.
Sunset: Terrazza Bar Al Ponte
Its sunset, and you know what that means? Happy hour drinks (with a view)! Make like the locals and head to Terrazza Bar Al Ponte for spectacular views across the Adige River to the castle. You’ll need to get there early as the bar is always busy, but that’s because it’s the best spot in Verona to grab an Aperol Spritz and cheeky aperitif.
Dinner: La Griglia
By now you’re hopefully feeling hungry, a little footsore and satisfied after an epic day exploring Verona. But wait, friend; you’re day is about to get better.
We had one of the best meals of our trip at a steakhouse near the Verona Arena. La Griglia offers delicious fresh pasta (maybe the best I had in Italy?!), beautifully cooked steak and tasty local wine, with lovely and attentive service. It pays to book ahead to secure a seat outside, however, we turned up at around 7:30pm without a reservation and the staff managed to find us a table.
If you’re planning a northern Italy escape then Verona should definitely be on your bucket list. Though small this picturesque town packs a punch with its rich history, Shakespearean associations, impressive architecture and flavourful food and wine. A day is enough to see it all, but stay the night and grab an Aperol Spritz while watching the sunset over the Adige River. Cin cin!
Stay: We stayed at Aurelia Rooms, a small hotel on the outskirts of the old town. The room was lovely (though quite hard to find) and the staff friendly and helpful. We paid €77.5 (€38.75 each) per night for a private room with en suite.