Seven Fun things in Verona

Verona is celebrated as the City of Love; it is after all the setting for the world’s most famous tragic love story, Romeo and Juliet! The powerful love between the two young people continues to inspire and fascinate lovers from all corners of the world and Verona allows you to relive the tragedy using your imagination.

However, this gem of a city sprawling the banks of the Adige River has much more to offer than the backdrop to the tragedy of the star-crossed lovers. Verona was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2000, since it is an outstanding example of a city that has developed progressively and uninterruptedly over 2,000 years, incorporating artistic elements from antiquity, the medieval and Renaissance periods. A remarkable number of monuments has been preserved, which makes strolling through the city a fascinating journey through time.
Even though Shakespeare’s the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet are a legend all over the world, the playwright himself had never been to Verona. In fact, the original literary work was created by Luigi da Porto, a writer from Vicenza, in the 1500s; it eventually circulated around Europe, reaching England. Thus it was the Bard who rendered it the immortal story that it is today, allowing Verona to rest as one of the most admired and visited places in the world. Two more of Shakespeare’s play, the Taming of the Shrew and the Gentlemen of Verona, are also set here.

From the 3rd century BC Verona was an important Roman trade centre and significant traces still remain today of its prodigious past, including the Arena of the Roman Theatre, the Gavi Arch at Porta Borsari, and the archaeological site at Porta Leoni.

So here is the list of my favourite things to do…

1. Visit the site of what is said to be the balcony of Juliet

The most famous spot in Verona is the fictitious Casa di Giuletta (Juliet’s House), a house trying to recreate the fantasy of Romeo e Giulietta. This is possibly the most touristy thing you can do in the city… But even thought the story of the unlucky lovers is a legend, it absolutely must be done!

The building itself dates back to the 13th century, and regardless of the fact that Juliet is a fictional character, this was the original home of the Capulets.

A beautiful bronze statue of Juliet stands at its center of the courtyard. It is always surrounded by tourists taking pictures with their hand on Juliet’s right breast: the legend says that this will bring good luck in finding your own true love, and don’t we all want that?! On the neighbouring wall is a Christmas tree of love notes.

The court is dominated by the famous balcony attributed to Juliet’s bedroom. In fact, the balcony was added during a restoration project around the 1930s, in order to recreate a medieval appearance. Not that many people actually go up since you have to pay a few euros to get in inside the house. However, the photo opportunity is simply worth it! Get someone from your party to stay in the courtyard to take the picture.

2. Watch Verona Opera Festival at one of the world’s greatest opera venuesverona opera festivalCan you think of a more magnificent setting for watching the opera than a large Roman stadium?

Just imagine sitting in the warm night air, the breeze caressing your skin, drinking in the electric atmosphere and spectacular opera with its exuberant costumes and breathtaking music. The festival starts late June and continues to the last week of August. You can watch many of the classics here: Aida, Madame Butterfly, and Carmen amongst others. First time I visited Verona a few years back was in fact to attend the festival with my parents. For three nights in a row, we immersed ourselves in the colours and the sound of operatic masterpieces under the open skies.

The Verona Arena has 25,000 seats and considered the largest Roman stadium still in use today. Originally constructed to host gladiator combats in the first century B.C, it saw a long period of abandonment before it returned to the limelight with a new form of entertainment in 1913 when it hosted the premier of Aida. At other times of the year, it hosts concerts and theatre performances.

Here is the link to the official website. 

3. Stroll through art and architecture at Castelvecchio

Castelvecchio is an imposing medieval fortress built in the mid-14th century by Cangrande II della Scala, which has recently been converted into Verona’s foremost art gallery. Several architectural styles have been intertwined here, making it one of the most exciting buildings in the city.

Castelvecchio is a pleasant spot to while away a few hours – you can leisurely stroll through the galleries displaying a wonderful assortment of art and armour, all beautifully displayed, then along the ramparts for picturesque views of the castle and the surrounding city, finally walking across the medieval bridge over the powerful Adige River.

4. See the crypt where Romeo and Juliet married at Basilica of San Zeno MaggioreThe fame of the Basilica rests partly on its architecture – this is the finest church in Verona and one of the most important Romanesque churches in Northern Italy- and partly upon the tradition that its crypt was the place of the marriage of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

basilica san zeno maggiore{Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore’s splendid facade}

5. Go wine tasting in Valpolicellavalpolicella veronaValpolicella, a viticultural zone in the province of Verona, produces some of the best wine in Italy and ranks just after Chianti in total Italian Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) wine production.

Viticulture has been used in the Veneto region since at least the time of the ancient Greeks. Valpollicella is perhaps most famous for Amarone, a strong, decadent red wine made from dried grapes. The tradition of using partially dried-grapes was known as the “Greco” or “Greek style” of winemaking, with its origins likely dating back to ancient Greece.

A variety of other great styles of wine is produced here: Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Superiore and Valpolicella Ripasso. Most basic Valpolicellas are light and fragrant, produced in a similar style to Beaujolais nouveau, thus making excellent table wines. Valpolicella Ripasso is a form of Valpolicella Superiore made with partially dried grape skins that have been left over from fermentation of Amarone or recioto.

serego alighieri

Perhaps the most exciting winery in the region is Serego Alighieri. This is one of the oldest estates in the region and it still belongs to poet Dante’s direct descendants twenty-one generations later! The property was bought in 1353 by Pietro Alighieri, Dante’s son, who had followed his father into exile in Verona and had stayed in the area after the poet’s death. Their selection of wines is outstanding, culminating in their iconic Amarone, Vaio AmaronThis wine of extraordinary power and complexity has won numerous awards.

6. Visit Byblos Art Hotel Villa Amistà for their very impressive collection of contemporary art

Byblos Hotel VeronaByblos Art Hotel Villa Amistà is 16th-century venetian villa that has been re-interpreted with the help of the famous architect and designer Alesandro Mendini to become an elegant luxury hotel and an exhibition space to host an impressive permanent exhibition of contemporary art. Here there are many works by world-famous artists, including Damien Hirst, Jean-Michel Basquait, Anish Kapoor and Takashi Murakami.

{Kate Moss by Marc Quinn}

7. Have the World’s Best Tiramisu at Trattoria Al Pompiere

Trattoria Al Pompiere claims to have World’s Best Tiramisu…a substantial claim but I must admit that it is perhaps the BEST Tiramisu I have tasted. I have been back three times to have it, and I will certainly be back again!

Favourite places to eat and drink

Antica Bottega del Vino

Antica Bottega del Vino is one of the oldest wine bars in Italy, with a long history that has its roots in the sixteenth century.

A very pleasant and enticing space for a glass (or more likely a bottle) of wine. Antica Bottega del Vino has quickly become one of my favourite wine bars ever! It has a long history that has its roots in the sixteenth century. The breathtaking wine list in the shape of a hefty, dusty book is a masterpiece in itself, offering more than 18,000 bottles!

Oblo Street Food

Seriously delicious burgers with an Italian influence. and probably some of the best I have tried.

Enoteca della Valpolicella

Enoteca della Valpolicella is the perfect stop for lunch when you are wine tasting in the Valpolicella region. A small, cosy restaurant bordering a vineyard, offering splendid local cuisine and outstanding wines.

One response to “Seven Fun things in Verona”

  1. Marta says:

    OMG this reminds me so much of growing up in Italy!!

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