“In fair Verona where we lay our scene…” Shakespeare’s opening gambit for Verona’s most famous name check, Romeo and Juliet; this is a city worthy of the world’s greatest literary tragedy. A city of superb beauty, Verona is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the main tourist destinations in northern Italy. Romanesque architecture, artistic heritage and its ancient Roman amphitheatre are just part of Verona’s appeal. Just 15 miles from Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake, and only a 1hr 15 minute drive to Venice, the city is a wonderful place to spend a few days.
They may have only been figments of a Shakespeare’s imagination, but each year thousands of tourists make the pilgrimage to the balcony where Juliet mused ‘wherefore art thou, Romeo?’, Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s house). You’ll find the picture-perfect courtyard thronged with visitors to the fabled house of Capulet (it was actually owned by the dell Capello family). En-route to the courtyard, you’ll pass through a short, dark tunnel where you can add your own letter of love to the hundreds already adorning the walls.
For a more culturally authentic experience, head to the Roman amphitheatre, the Arena. Found in the city’s largest piazza, the Piazza Bra, the 2000 year old amphitheatre hosts operas biggest names each summer. With a seating for 30,000 people, the pink-tinged marble open-air arena comes alive on warm summer evenings where the atmosphere is as magical as the setting.
The Piazza delle Erbe puts you in the heart of Verona in what was originally the site of the city’s Roman forum. The square is lined with some of Verona’s most elaborate architecture and the permanent stalls and eateries ensures the piazza retains much of the buzz from its ancient past.
For a slice of tranquillity, the Giardino Giusti are a little green oasis close to the city centre. A mixture of sculpted and natural gardens, the Giardino Giusti make up the grounds of Giusti Palace and date back to 1580. Local legend says that lovers who find each other in the hedgemaze are destined to stay together forever. Who says Paris is the City of Love!
Wine lovers, rejoice. Verona’s surrounding landscape is awash with vineyards producing white and red wine, and Prosecco. Tours of the vineyards and wine tasting are a great option for visitors, and are easily accessible from the city.
For those who want their wine a little closer at hand, Verona definitely doesn’t disappoint. Enoteche (wine bars) are in abundance, stocking the region’s wines. Relax after a day seeing the sites with a glass and enjoy a meal the Italian way- eaten slowly and among friends. Risotto, pasta, noodles, cheeses, herbs, and fresh and cured meats, are the order of the day.