It’s not hard to fall in love with Verona. She is a city of romantic Roman ruins, wistful, faded colors, and splendid views. Oh yeah – she’s also home to Western literature’s favorite dysfunctional teenage couple and suicide victims, Romeo and Juliet. What’s not to love?
I thoroughly enjoyed my most recent visit, so I thought I’d write a post about what to see on a day trip to Verona.
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What to see on a day trip to verona
Why visit Verona?
If you’re looking to get off the beaten path in northern Italy, Verona is a good place to start. Of course, it attracts tourists and has many well-known sights, but it’s certainly not as crowded as Rome, Florence, or Venice.
There is a lot to see on a day trip to Verona, but this post will not touch on every last thing. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to have a “check list” feeling when I’m on the road. I also don’t like blog posts titled “750 things to do in Paris!” or “The Top 957 restaurants in Rome!” because for one thing, they make me feel like I’m missing out on a lot, and also because they feel dishonest. It’s doubtful that you were able to eat at 957 places on your three-day trip to Rome, Karen. Tell me what you actually did, what you actually ate, what you thought of it all, and maybe some tips for things you wish you had done or things that you’ve heard are really good, but please, don’t tell me about 10 great hotels if you only stayed in one.
When preparing for a trip, I do a bit of research about what there is to see and then decide on a few things that I definitely want to experience. I then spend about seven more hours trying to decide where to eat, but that is a story for another day. After visiting what’s on my shortlist, I just see where the day takes me.
I try to structure my posts this way too – I like to share about what I did, and what happy accidents occurred along the way. If I think something is important to include but I wasn’t able to visit it myself, I will always tell you that. For example, when I went to Catania last summer, I didn’t visit the botanical gardens, but I really wish I had. So, I popped it into my post about things to see in Catania.
Sometimes, my equation of sightseeing + serendipity = a minor disaster, like when I led my parents and sweetheart to Modena a week ago and we discovered that every single place in the city center closes at 2:30 after lunch in February and we couldn’t get a table anywhere until a friend of mine who lives there saved the day by taking us to the one place in town that didn’t close between lunch and dinner. Those experiences are worth it though, because then you have a story, a tip to share, and something to laugh about after the trip is over.
Anyway, I had been to Verona before, and I wanted to bring my parents on their visit. Luckily, my parents are like me, in that they’re not really the rush-around-and-see-every-last-thing travelers. We’re on the same page vis-a-vis experience and exploration. We’re also on the same page vis-a-vis eating all the food. If you’re on this page with us, check out my post on the late lunch we had at Osteria del Bugiardo!
With all that in mind, I’m going to offer this list of what to see on a day trip to Verona based on my personal experiences of the city, and then make some recommendations for things I’ve read and heard about for those of you who might be less concerned with eating constantly and more concerned with sightseeing.
Getting To Verona by train
You can take a day trip to Verona by train from many cities in northern Italy. It’s just over an hour from Milan or Venice, about an hour from Bologna, and 40-ish minutes from Padua.
You can also easily reach Verona from some places in Lake Garda. My most recent trip there was from Desenzano, and it was about a 30-minute ride.
There are two stations in Verona – Verona Porta Vescovo, and Verona Porta Nuova. In order to visit the city center, you should get off at Verona Porta Nuova.
Reaching the city center from Verona Porta Nuova train station
When you arrive at Verona Porta Nuova, you can either hop on a bus, or enjoy a 15-20 minute stroll down Corso Porta Nuova, a boulevard with wide sidewalks. It’s a very pleasant street. If the weather is nice, I recommend walking.
Sightseeing in Verona
L’Arena di Verona
Towards the end of Corso Porta Nuova, you’ll enter the historic city center by way of the Portoni della Brà and reach Verona’s first treasure, its ancient arena.
Piazza Brà was once upon a time considered to be part of the fringes of the city. Now, the piazza and its arena are firmly part of the historic center of Verona.
The arena was built between the reigns of the emperors Augustus and Claudius in the first century AD. It originally consisted of three concentric circles, but a massive portion of the outermost ring collapsed during an earthquake in 1117. What’s left of it is still visible today, from both the inside and outside of the Arena.
What remains of the arena is very well preserved. Similarly to the Colosseum in Rome, the Arena di Verona held gladiatorial matches, animal fights, and other forms of gory entertainment. It too has a system of tunnels and chambers for holding the men and beasts who would battle each other in front of the masses, but unlike the Colosseum’s underground world, this area of the Arena di Verona cannot be visited.
The rest of the Arena, however, is open for visits, and even hosts operas all summer long. Can you imagine attending an opera in an ancient amphitheater under the stars?! There’s that Veronese romance popping up again!
Want tickets? Check here!
As you may know, er mio core è Romano (my heart is Roman), so I always like to see the treasures they left around Italy and Europe when I have the chance. The Arena di Verona is in great shape.
On my most recent visit, there was a special discount on tickets for the Arena because we visited close to Valentine’s Day. Being Italy’s city of love, Verona offers special discounts for the feast of Saint Valentine. Thanks to him, the four of us got in for 20 euros. Prices are normally a bit more steep, at 10 euro per person for an adult. Children up to age 7 are free, between the ages of 8 and 14 are just 1 euro, and adults over 60 are 7.50.
There are many ancient city gates sprinkled around Verona, all of which are interesting in their own way, but my favorite is Porta Borsari.
Made of limestone and built sometime during the first century AD, Porta Borsari was once the main entrance to the city. It is believed that there was originally a city gate from the first century BC in the same spot, but it was covered by the first century AD structure. An inscription reveals that Porta Borsaari was reconstructed again in 265 AD.
I loved seeing Porta Borsari. It’s almost impossible to fathom just how old it is, and it’s fun to think about how many people have crossed through it before you.
La Casa di Giulietta – Juliet Capulet’s House
You can’t talk about Verona without talking about the house of Juliet Capulet. People come from far and wide to leave her letters about broken hearts or to write the name of their beloved in the entrance. Others write of eternal love, undying love, love that will never fade, like this person:
The house itself was built at some point during the twelfth century by the Dal Cappello family. The theory is that “Dal Cappello” morphed into “Capuleti,” or Capulet, and thus, the legend that this was the house of Juliet was born.
In 1905 the city of Verona purchased the house and it was converted to look like a Medieval home, similar to what homes at the time of Romeo and Juliet would have looked like. The most famous part of the house is the balcony, which can be visited along with the rest of the house.
Another attraction is the sculpture of Juliet in the courtyard, which was done by Nereo Costantini. It is believed that if you touch one of Juliet’s breasts, you’ll have good fortune in love. As you can imagine, her poor boobs are fondled all day. If you’re particularly desperate to find that special someone, you can fight your way through the Instagrammers and perverts and have a grope of your own.
Like I said before, we were in Verona right around Valentine’s Day, and the city really takes this holiday and runs with it. Red lights and hearts were strung up across piazzas and streets. It was very sweet!
Of course, Juliet’s house was swarmed, and it wasn’t actually that pleasant being jammed into the courtyard with 9,000 other tourists. I’ve never visited the interior, so I can’t report on what it’s like.
I’d shy away from visiting the house of Juliet around Valentine’s Day again. The courtyard is much more pleasant when not filled to bursting. You’ll be able to snap some pictures of the famous balcony, touch the boobs, and have a peek in the adjacent gift shop in a much more leisurely manner.
Tickets to visit the house of Juliet are 6 euro.
Piazza delle Erbe
Next, I suggest taking a stroll through two of Verona’s best-known piazzas. They were buzzing with markets and people enjoying the afternoon sunshine on our visit, and they were lovely to walk through.
I was particularly captivated by the colors on the buildings that ring Piazza delle Erbe. Some of them are decorated with frescoes. The shades of ocher, amber, and faded reds and greens glowed in the sunshine.
The fountain above is known as la Madonna Verona, which symbolizes the city itself. Piazza delle Erbe lies where the ancient Romans had their forum, thus, it has always been an integral part of Veronese life. She has an interesting history. If you’re curious about la Madonna Verona, check out this great post from Rossi Writes!
Piazza dei Signori
In Medieval times, this piazza was home to the palace of the Scaliger family, who ruled the city and a large part of the Veneto region from 1260 – 1387. If the name Scaliger is ringing a bell, it might be because of the famous castle of the same name in Sirmione. The Scaliger palace in Verona is now a government building.
Want to know more about the Scaliger Castle, or perhaps visit it yourself? Check out my post on visiting Sirmione!
At the center of the piazza is a statue of Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy and the father of modern Italian.
Another important building is the Palazzo di Cansignorio, which was once a Medieval fortress.
La Torre dei Lamberti
Alright, here’s my first woulda-coulda-shoulda item for your day trip to Verona itinerary. La Torre dei Lamberti is part of the Palazzo della Ragione, which was built in the 12th century and fitted with four defense towers. La Torre dei Lamberti is one of these.
You can climb the tower – 368 steps – or you can take a glass elevator to the top for 8 euro. The tower offers a 360 degree view of the city, and I wish we had done it. I’ll be sure not to miss it next time I’m in Verona, but until then, please do it for me, and let me know what it’s like!
Other famous sights in Verona
Santa Anastasia and San Zeno Maggiore
Like many Italian cities, Verona has some beautiful churches. Two of the best known are Santa Anastasia, and San Zeno Maggiore. We didn’t have time to visit them on our trip, but you can find some more info about these churches and others here.
Giusti Villa and Gardens
Another popular sight in Verona is the Giusti Villa and Gardens. Like the churches, I’ve never visited them myself, but they look quite beautiful. Here’s more info on those.
So, there’s my list of what to see on a day trip to Verona! It’s truly an excellent little city with many beautiful sights. I highly recommend a day trip there on your next Italian adventure!
Now, go eat and have a delicious glass of Valpolicella at Osteria del Bugiardo!
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