A walking tour to discover in one day the top sights and attractions of Romeo and Juliet lovely town
Few cities in Italy and in the world can be as romantic as Verona, arguably a perfect destination for lovers of all ages. Verona is incredibly charming, and offers everything you may desire from an Italian top destination. Glorious past, beautiful setting, amazing monuments, delicious food, the story (legend?) of Romeo and Juliet… you name it, you’ll get it! Oh, Verona is also listed among Italians UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Travelers just need slightly more that one hour to reach Verona from Venice by speed train (one hour twenty minutes from Milan): this makes it a perfect destination for a day trip from one of these cities. Of course, if you have enough time you can spend there two or three days and even more, exploring Garda lake main treasures and (why not?) attending one of the many summer concerts held in the Roman arena.
Said so, since few travelers dedicate more that one day to Verona, in this post I’m sharing a short walking itinerary aimed at discovering Verona in less than a day. The city center is fairly small, and most of it is pedestrian, so it’s really easy and enjoyable to discover it by feet.
Unfortunately, unless you arrive very early in the morning, you may not have the time to explore also the other notable destinations such as the Roman theater, Castelvecchio (the old castle), san Zeno church and the Giardino dei Giusti (from which you can have a really nice view on the old center). But never mind, once you have discovered Verona for the first time, you won’t help coming back to spend there the time it deserves!
You walking tour starts from Porta Nuova and Piazza delle Erbe. In front of you, the massive Roman arena stands out in the lively square. Still remarkably well preserved, today it’s home to Verona’s summer opera and jazz festivals.
From piazza delle Erbe, the lively via Mazzini will lead you to the city center. In a small street on your right (via Scudo di Francia), pay attention to the historical Bottega del Vino, a perfect place to sip a glass of wine or to reserve your lunch.
A few meters ahead, turn right and follow the signs for what is known to be the house and balcony of Juliet (of course no historical evidence, just popular belief). The house is in a courtyard off Via Capello. You will also find a statue of Juliet and according to the tradition you can rub Juliet’s breast for good luck! The 13th century house is a good example of Gothic architecture. That are the good news. The bad new is that this is probably the least romantic place in Verona, due to the masses of tourists that mill around the courtyard.
Nevertheless, I find really funny to look at the many ways tourists express their love, from writing it on the walls (note that walls are covered with drawing paper, changed from time to time and sold as souvenir!), on the tiles (yes, you can purchase a tile and have it engraved, for just 75€!), on the padlocks, and even on chewed chewing gums (do their beloved really deserve it???)!!!
Getting out of crowded Juliet courtyard, a hundred meters away, lays beautiful and lively piazza delle Erbe. Once the Roman Forum, it is still home to a market (fairly touristic indeed) and in the evening, it fills with locals and tourists sipping their Aperitivo at the outdoor cafes. It’s an excellent place for a rest, before climbing up Torre dei Lamberti.
The Torre dei Lamberti (Lamberti Family tower) is a medieval bell tower just off Piazza delle Erbe. It was started in the 12th century and was raised a few times after that until it reached its final height of 84 meters (…and 238 steps to climb – but you can cheat and take the elevator).
The entrance is just near Palazzo della Ragione (look for the small passage way in Piazza delle Erbe) . On top of it you will have fantastic views of the city and of the surrounding hills.
Just after Piazza delle Erbe you will find the second most famous ancient square: Piazza dei Signori (square of the lords), a small square surrounded by monumental buildings. In the center is a statue of Dante and perched atop buildings around the square are more famous signori. This square was once the seat of the city’s public institutions.
Just around the corner from Piazza dei Signori you will discover one of the most famous monuments of Verona: the Arche Scaligere. The Arche Scaligere are five elaborated Gothic funerary monuments, considered some of the best examples of Gothic art. They belong to members of the Scaligeri family, who ruled Verona in the 13th and 14th centuries. Take ten minutes to visit the nearby Santa Maria Antica tiny church.
After visiting looking to Arche Scaligere turn right and head to the Lungo Adige. You will pass in front of what is “reportedly” the house of Romeo, a nice restaurant (Osteria del Duca) and many old palaces and streets. Here you will hardly see any tourist, and you can enjoy the Off the beaten path side of Verona.
Walk down the Lungo Adige (the banks of the River Adige) and enjoy the beautiful hills aroound Verona.
In this area, you will find many nice restaurants (look for typical Verona Cousine!), especially in delightful old via Sottoriva street.
Choose your preferred restaurant under the old porticos. Traditional dishes in Verona include the Baccalà (salted cod served with polenta, ie mais pudding) and pasta e fagioli (pasata with beans).
After your lunch, you can visit some really astonishing churches: Sant’Anastasia and the Duomo.
Sant’Anastasia is my preferred church in Verona, and you will find it very close to via Sottoriva. Despite its unfinished façade, its interior has some amazing artwork, including renaissance frescoes, paintings and sculptures.
Begun in 1290, but not completed until 1481, it’s Gothic/Romaensque in style and Verona’s biggest church. Its an amazingly beautiful church, well worth the entry ticket (included in the Verona pass).
Before heading to the Duome (Verona cathedral), take some time to admire the old Roman bridge, the “Ponte di Pietra”.
Verona’s main cathedral, or Duomo, is a stunning 12th-century church. It is actually a complex of buildings that includes a 12th century Baptistery, the Canons Cloister, and Saint Elena Church and remains of a 4th century paleo-Christian basilica. The octagonal Romanesque baptismal font, decorated with carved Biblical scenes, was carved out of a single block of marble and the Baptistery has frescoes from the 13th to 15th centuries.
The cathedral’s frescoes are from the 15th to 18th centuries and the exterior is decorated with 12th century reliefs.
We are approaching the end of this tour, but we still have to admire one of Verona main highlights: the Porta Borsari.
Located at the end of – guess what – corso di Porta Borsari, this ancient Roman gate, which once marked the southern entrance into Verona, is a great—and beautiful—example of Roman taste for theatrical scenes, even in civil buildings.
From Porta Borsari, get back to piazza Bra to get the bus to the station.
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