A city of love, music and architecture (IT)
As the stage for one of the most important pieces written by the famous playwright, Verona is still to this day very much visited by those wanting to marvel at all things Romeo and Juliet. But the romantic Italian town has a wealth of other things to offer. From striking architecture to succulent local cuisine, the city of love is undoubtedly a mandatory stop when visiting the areas around Milan and Venice.
Piazza delle Erbe
“It’s elegant, trendy, vibrant . . . it’s the heart of the city! And it’s the number one meeting place for an evening aperitif,” says Francesca Rossi, Veronese local tour guide. Indeed, the architecturally fascinating square is home to a wonderful fresh produce market by day, which turns into the pre-supper gathering hotspot par excellence by night. “But it’s also important to mention that this beautiful square is where you’ll find majestic structures like the town hall dominated by Verona’s tallest tower, the Torre dei Lamberti, not to mention the Palazzo Maffei, the Mazzanti houses and the fountain at its centre.”
Piazza Brà and the Arena di Verona
Piazza Brà, which takes its name from the German word breit – meaning broad – is in fact one of the largest squares in Italy. Lined with coffee shops, restaurants and pubs, relaxing over a long drink is the activity of choice here. Piazza Brà attracts an especially large crowd during the Verona Opera Festival, which takes place in July and August. The world-renowned event is held in the Arena di Verona, located within the square. Built in the 1st century AD, the wonderfully kept legendary Roman amphitheatre welcomes up to 15,000 spectators every year to the open-air lyrical music extravaganza.
Oh Verona, it’s impossible to visit you without stopping by Juliet’s balcony! Taking a selfie by the famous balcony, added to the Capuleti’s building in the 1930s, or by the bronze statue of Juliet is a must. The Casa di Giulietta has become a museum open to the public. “Many purchase the ticket only to be photographed on the balcony!” says Rossi. A short walk will take you to Romeo’s house, but being privately owned, it cannot be visited. Lovers of the Shakespearean play make it a point to visit Juliet’s tomb located inside a monastery turned museum: the Museum of the Frescoes of G.B. Cavalcaselle.
Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore
Perhaps one of Italy’s most magnificent examples of Romanesque architecture, the San Zeno Basilica was built between the 10th and 12th centuries and is dedicated to the patron saint of Verona, Saint Zeno. A noteworthy feature is its central rose window, shaped like a wheel of fortune, adorning the already stunning facade. The interior is filled with gems: sculptures, paintings, frescoes and the spectacular altarpiece.
Another fine example of Romanesque architecture is the Duomo di Verona, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The 12th century cathedral is as impressive on the outside as it is on the inside. The grandiose 16th and 17th century frescoes and trompe-l’œil artwork in every corner of the cathedral are nothing short of fascinating. The Duomo should absolutely be on any visitor’s must-see list.
An imposing 14th century fortress of gothic architecture was the noble Scaligeri family’s way of providing defence to the city throughout their rule during the Middle Ages. With very little attention given to detail, the castle is simply a plain geometrical structure with seven towers, a keep and four separate buildings. Today, it houses the Castelvecchio Museum where sculptures and important paintings are exposed.
If Castelvecchio lacks a little in creativity, the Scaligeri’s funerary complex overcompensates with its extremely elaborate gothic elements. The importance of their rule during the 13th and 14th centuries is very much highlighted with this lavish artistic display. Right by Piazza delle Erbe, the five funerary monuments stand in front of the charming little church of Santa Maria Antica, which is also worth a peek.