Ahh, fair Verona. The city will forever be associated with Shakespeare’s infamous star-crossed lovers. As it turns out, there is a lot more to Verona than just its association with Romeo and Juliet. It’s not a huge city, however, and we found it reasonably manageable to see Verona in one day.
During a tour of Italy, my husband Daniel and I decided to stop by Verona for a brief stop after spending a week in Venice. Because, well, Shakespeare. We were eager to see fair Verona, made forever famous by Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet (Giulietta).
Upon our arrival, we found the city in the midst of the Verona in Love Festival. I was delighted to discover that the festivities took place the weekend after Valentine’s Day. Poor Daniel was sick with a fever on February 14th this year so we didn’t really have an opportunity to celebrate yet. Time for a do-over!
And so it came to pass that Daniel and I spent a lovely day in Verona wandering the streets and checking out the festival. We also managed to fit in a few sights as well, including the Verona Arena, Castelvecchio – and of course the popular Romeo and Juliet tourist attractions.
Verona in One Day Highlight: Romeo & Juliet (Giulietta)
Two households, both alike in dignity
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene…
-Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet
As the backdrop for Shakespeare’s famous play Romeo and Juliet, the City of Verona has certainly capitalized on this fact. The city has erected statues and attractions all over town related to the bard or his works. You can tour “Juliet’s House” and where the famous balcony scene purportedly took place, and you can also pay a visit to “Romeo’s House”.
Never mind that these are fictional characters and so… obviously these locations are completely made up. But it is a fun excuse to celebrate some of the most iconic characters in literature that are still compelling new generations of readers to this day.
Verona in Love Festival aka the Valentine’s Day Do-Over
Daniel and I arrived in Verona to find Valentine’s decorations and hearts everywhere. We were completely taken by surprise as we had just come from Venice where Carnival celebrations were fully underway and no hearts were in sight.
In hindsight, it makes perfect sense that the city of Verona would further capitalize on their association with Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers by creating a love festival centered around Valentine’s Day.
The Verona in Love festival features a local food market, decorations, romantic walks, themed dinners, as well as a Romeo and Juliet Half Marathon. We wandered into the Cortile del Mercato Vecchio (Courtyard of the Old Market) to just as hundreds of people released heart-shaped balloons into the air – we couldn’t have timed it better if we had tried.
Piazza delle Erbe
Pizza delle Erbe or “Market Square” is my favorite place in Verona. Situated on what used to be a Roman forum, the square is lined with fabulous buildings and is popular with both tourists and locals alike. Our guesthouse was located only one block away from Piazza delle Erbe and we loved it.
Undeniably the biggest tourist attraction in town, it’s impossible to miss the Verona Arena in the middle of Piazza Bra. Originally constructed in the first century, the arena is still in use today.
You can buy tickets to tour the inside of the arena but we were too lazy to do that and contented ourselves with seeing it from the outside.
Castelvecchio and the Castelvecchio Bridge
Built in 1376, Castelvecchio is an imposing fortress that now houses an art museum. Spanning the Adige River, the Castelvecchio Bridge (or Scaliger Bridge) was originally constructed so that the wealthy leaders of Verona could escape in case of a revolt. At the time of its construction, the bridge featured the world’s largest span at 159.7 feet (48.70 meters).
We skipped the museum and contented ourselves with walking across the bridge and admiring the views (it’s free!).