I was a bit uninformed on how long we would be stopping in Verona during my trip to Italy, so I really did not plan on initially giving the city it’s own review. I figured I would combine it with Venice since that was the main city of that portion of the trip, and because they both started with “V”. However, we spent a good amount of time there and I enjoyed it quite a bit, so I’ll go ahead and point out some of the city’s highlights and must see locations.
Verona is a smaller city, with tons of winding passages, cobblestone roads, and quaint stops. It reminds me a good deal of Seville, my favorite city on Earth. These older cities have plenty to do and see, much like a major city, but don’t have the overly modernized look to them like pretty much all American cities do.
The Arena is the main site you have to see while in Verona. It is essentially the same style as the Roman Coliseum in Rome but on a much smaller scale. The major difference between the two, however, is the arena in Verona is actually still used today for events. In the summer, when opera performances come to town, this arena is the major venue as a functioning outdoor amphitheater. If you’re into opera and/or older roman architecture, the arena in Verona is a spot you can’t miss.
Verona is also home to the balcony that inspired Romeo and Juliet. If you’re a Shakespeare fan like I am, this is a cool stop. Fortunately the picture I took captures the balcony without all the tourists crowding into the courtyard, sticking gum on one of the walls and taking pictures with a statue. Down the road I’ll just remember the fun feeling of equating that balcony to the famous “Romeo o Romeo” dialogue between star-crossed lovers.
Food is everywhere. If you’re near the city center there are alleys and roads lined with small cafes or specialty food shops. We opted to stop at an ice cream shop and had some unbelievable, award winning gelato.
If you prefer a more traditional sit down meal, you can make your way to the Piazza (plaza) Bra, where plenty of restaurants offer indoor and outdoor seating looking out into the plaza. It is here that I had my first exposure to authentic Italian pizza. It did not disappoint.
I ordered a very good sized personal pizza, probably the equivalent if not slightly bigger than a medium Dominoes pizza for reference. The difference, however, is that I didn’t feel horrible after destroying this pizza. I feel that the ingredients are just significantly more fresh here. My pizza was called Esotico, and had prosciutto and pineapple (which can go on pizza, sorry purists).
Outside of the city, seemingly like all of northern Italy, are vineyards that are cool to look at while you drive on the highway (in our case from Verona to Venice. Outside of Verona is an imposing castle of St. Bonafort’s as well overlooking the vineyards. That’s simply something you don’t see if you’re an American like myself.
Not far from the city center plaza there are plenty of places to shop. There’s a fun market that has homemade or souvenir items, perfect for getting all of your gifts out of the way for friends back home who have guilted you into picking them up something.
Overall, it’s a fun stop. Don’t overlook Verona just because it isn’t a large city like Milan, Venice, Rome, etc. It’s worth at least a half day exploring.