Romantic city-break guide in Verona
If anyone asks me where I would recommend a romantic European break for the weekend, I always recommend Verona. I even put this ahead of Paris, Venice, Brugge and Avignon. Verona is a city located in the Veneto region in the north-east of Italy and has good train links to Venice, Milan, Lago di Garda and Bologna as well as a small international airport (Verona) and the nearest biggest airports are Venice and Milan. Before I came to Verona, I explored Venice, Milan and Rome. I didn’t really feel anything for those cities but when I hit up Verona with my wife Olga, we both fell in love with the city straight away. Less known, less crowded but had everything to dazzle us. This is my guide to those who want a romantic weekend break in this special city.
Verona’s Centro Storico
All the sights mentioned in this blog post are located in the Centro Storico which is known as the historic centre of Verona. The thing I loved about walking from one place to another is that I was wandering through side streets, taking in wide piazzas and basically getting lost but at the same time, checking out beautiful buildings and amazing food places.
Located on the southern outskirts of Centro Storico is the main square, the Piazza Bra. Here there are a few cafes and restaurants which look great but a bit pricey (my personal tip here so if looking for cheaper food, go into the Centro Storico and find a hidden restaurant away from the tourist sites).
Also located on the Piazza Bra is the famous Roman Arena which in my own personal opinion, is one of the best Roman Arena’s I have come across on my travels. Much better than the ‘big daddy’ in Rome but on par with the arenas in El Jem (Tunisia) and Pula (Croatia). Visitors can go inside either by themselves or with a tour group. We decided to go by ourselves to take a wonder, walked around it and the best thing was the views from the top. Looking into (or shall I say) into the arena and dreaming of what went on here in Roman times, like Gladiator fights. Also the views looking out to the city was amazing also. The arena has stood here since the first century and is still used for events today like opera performances (and I have been told they are really spectacular here) to which crowds of 15,000 will be inside watching it. Another fact I found out recently whilst writing this post is that the arena will be used as the closing ceremony for the 2026 Winter Olympics which is being held in nearby Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Torre dei Lamberti
In the heart of Centro Storico is the Torre dei Lamberti which is a tower which has stood here since the 12th century and is one of the best places to get fantastic views of the city. There is an elevator which takes visitors to the top but I preferred the staircase.
Time for the touristy bit – but so worth it! Juliet’s house!
Ok, so we all know the story of Romeo and Juliet which was written by Englishman William Shakespeare and first published in 1597. For those who need a recap, the story is about a long ongoing quarrel between the Capulet and Montague families (who really did exist). Romeo (who was in the Montague family) and Juliet (in the Capulet family) meet for the first time when he goes to a ball at Juliet’s father’s house. The two fell in love very quickly but because of the two families, their love is going to be doomed. Straight after the ball and Romeo being all loved up, he goes to the Capulet garden and overhear’s Juliet on her balcony who was saying rather lovely things about the guys she met. Then the famous balcony scene happened, Romeo declaring his love and vows to marry each other the next day! (So quick, it must be young love!). Then of course death came along later in the story but I don’t want to be a spoiler.
However it is the balcony scene location which Verona has become famous for. But how? Ok, so in the book Shakespeare’s described some of the settings brilliantly and a lot of details. Most of the settings in the book is based on Verona. However, the 13th century house with the balcony, why here? Ok, I try my best to describe (and I had to do some research afterwards as I was very interested in this subject). The house belonged to the Dal Capello family (also known as the Cappelletti) and this name was similar to Juliet’s family name, the Capulets. Simple! But it doesn’t stop there, the most convenient fact to all of this is that there is a small balcony overlooking the small
In the courtyard is a bronze statue of Juliet and I followed the legend which goes with this and rubbed my hands all over her right breast (but not in a pervy way!). By doing this I was suppose to be given love and fertility. No one knows where the legend started. Also the statue is a copy as the original is now housed in a museum to protect it but no one really knows this and there is still a lot of magic and excitement in the area when visitors come to see the statue and balcony.
The entrance to the courtyard is interesting. It’s covered with lots of love letters and notes from everyone who visits who are searching for everlasting love or just want to leave a note to say how they feel about their loved one.
The Old Castle is a bit of a combo-castle, built as a fortress and a home at the same time but due to so many invaders over the centuries, there has been a lot of changes to the original structure. The castle hosts a museum but for us, we loved checking out the courtyard. However next to the castle is the bridge (one of many which spans the Adige River) known as Castelvecchio Bridge or Verona’s Scaliger Bridge. The bridge connects the castle to the left bank of the city. The bridge has been blown up once and that was in 1945 when those pesky Nazi German’s were fleeing the city and decided to blow up all of Verona’s bridges on their retreat. The walk along the riverbank in this area is also beautiful and worth taking time out for.
Piazza delle Erbe
The square is also known as the Market Square and located here is the town hall, the Torre dei Lamberti, the judge’s hall, house of merchants and other medieval houses. However the other main feature here is the fountain which has been here since 1368 and has a statue called Madonna Verona. However as it was a hot day, I spent a lot of time just sitting down by the Madonna Verona having a gelato, it just had to be done.
Do the passeggiata
What’s the passeggiata? This is a tradition which happens throughout the country and we did this on the first night of our stay. It’s basically an evening walk where families dress up and go through the city. Then they mingle with other locals or just sit outside a cafe and enjoy the view with a glass of wine. It is a really lovely way to end the day in the city.
Thinking of a longer stay?
Verona we found is also a fantastic base to go exploring elsewhere and has excellent train connections. We did two day trips to Lago di Garda (Garda Lake), Brescia, Bergamo, Bologna and Venice from here and most places are within a one-two hour journey.
As mentioned earlier on, we loved our stay here and it has the romantic feel. Coming to Verona is probably the first time I felt the real Italy and fell in love with the country. This was the moment that I knew I should be going to smaller towns and villages or off the beaten tracks in the country to get a real feel for Italy and the Italians. And that is what I have done since (ok, I did check out a few more big cities as well but found a heck of a lot of smaller places in the meantime). I highly recommend anyone in this area to check out Verona and spend at least a weekend here.