“O, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day,
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away!”
Only an hour inland from Venice by high speed train, the pretty medieval Italian city of Verona lies in the Northern Veneto region.
Chances are, the first thing that springs to mind when the “City of Love” is mentioned are the world’s favourite star crossed lovers, Romeo & Juliet. And while it may be true that Shakespeare based his play on historical families from Verona, there are a lot more things to see and experience in this surprising city.
We did an overnight trip before heading back to Venice, but we will definitely be returning to spend more time there!
How to get there
Verona is easily accessible by any transport method, and has its own airport, Valerio Catullo. As we were already staying in Venice, we took a train from Venezia S.Lucia station, which is walking distance from most places in Venice (or easily accessible by water!).
We booked directly online with Italo
The trains were very clean and comfortable. We chose the “comfort” level seats, which had reclining seats with charging sockets. The journey takes just over an hour, passing through some pretty countryside, and once in Verona, it’s a nice walk into the centre of town.
Where we stayed
We took a chance booking the Palazzo online, not having any previous experience of Verona, going by the website and reviews. This was absolutely one of the most luxurious places we have ever stayed, and for the price point, the standard is incredible.
The guesthouse is a beautiful 18th century Palazzo situated one of the main luxury shopping streets in the centre of of Verona, Corso Porta Borsari. It has retained all the original features, while creating a luxurious and modern experience for the guests. We booked the Royal Suite, which definitely lived up to its name!
We received a warm welcome from the lovely receptionist (who of course spoke perfect English!). He gave us a quick introduction about the city, and a nice glass of Prosecco while we settled in. The level of customer service here is fantastic.
As it’s a guesthouse, not a hotel, the reception is not there 24 hours, so it’s important they know what time you will be arriving.
A fantastic breakfast is delivered at your specified time (ensure you put your breakfast card out by 7pm), and laid out beautifully on the dining table.
There is also a small gym downstairs should you wish to work off some of the pasta during your stay 🙂
All in all, an incredible experience, and I can’t recommend Palazzo Monga enough. We look forward to trying out the other suites!
Where we dined
Torcolino da Barca, Corso Castel Veccio 5
This was the first restaurant we stopped in to on our arrival in Verona, looking for a spot of lunch on our way from the station to the Palazzo. We were pleasantly surprised by the lovely interior and welcoming family atmosphere. We had a beautiful platter of meats and cheeses, followed by a Risotto with Amarone for my husband (seemingly a local speciality), and I had some tortellini with sage.
We agreed that we will return for a longer dinner on our next visit. Recommended for delicious authentic food in a high quality setting.
Another place we happened upon while looking for a light lunch on our second day in Verona, Sgarzarie is a well established local eatery. I had the Sgarzarie salad and a glass of wine, which was excellent. Again we will return for a longer meal on our next trip. The fact that the majority of other diners there were Italian is always a good sign for me!
They did also have horse meat on the menu – something I won’t be trying, but a long established delicacy from this region.
As we were on a flying visit, we only had chance to see a few of the incredible sights of Verona. The city is very much walkable, so we (when I say “we”, I mean my husband the navigator!) worked out easy routes to allow us to see some of the things that most interested us.
First stop was the Parish Church of Saint Nicolo, a beautiful 17th century building which houses some important examples of paintings and sculpture of the time. Incredibly, it is apparently hardly ever mentioned in travel guides, and remains one of the lesser known churches even to Verona locals. Well worth a visit if you have an interest in Italian architecture & art of this period.
The impressive Arena di Verona was next on our route, a Roman amphitheatre built in the 1st century (before the Colosseum in Rome). It is now used to stage open air opera in the summer (the largest in the world), and other musical performances. unfortunately some of the arena was closed off when we visited (due to setting up for said musical offerings), but it was still incredible to sit up in the terraces and marvel at this 2,000 year old architectural masterpiece.
“Are you not entertained?!”
Continuing down Via Roma, we crossed the river Adige over the formidable Ponte di Castelvecchio. Sadly destroyed by German Troops in 1945, it was rebuilt in the years following, keeping faithfully to the original design.
Sweeping views from the Ponte di Castelvecchio
We returned back to our starting point, crossing the Ponte della Vittoria to the main part of the city
We started with a quick stop into the courtyard of “Juliet’s House”. We were prepared for this to be one of the busiest places in the city, and it was difficult to even make our way into the courtyard!
This popular tourist attraction was actually created by the city in the 20th century, and obviously has no real link to Juliet, a fictional character.
The balcony is apparently created from a 17th century sarcophagus, although the house does date from the 14th century (it was owned by the Cappello family.. close enough to Capulet!)
We didn’t go inside the house, as it was so busy, but it’s probably worth visiting as a good example of life in Verona in the 15th century. If you can wait long enough (and have a patient friend down in the courtyard!), you can get a photo from the balcony. Yes, it’s a tourist trap, but anything that continues to connect new generations to the works of Shakespeare (and keep them off their iPhones for 5 minutes) can’t be bad.
The Basilica of Santa Anastasia was our next stop, the largest church in Verona. It was designed by two Dominican friars, and built during the 14th, 15th & 16th centuries.
I’ve linked the official website here. There is so much art and history to take in, you could easily spend all your time just in this church, so it’s definitely one to re-visit on our next trip!
Leaving the church and continuing over Ponte Pietra, we rode the Castel San Pietro Funicula to the viewpoint at the top of Colle San Pietro, for some incredible panoramic views of the city.
Heading back down on the Funicula, we made our way to the Teatro Romano di Verona, an ancient Roman theatre, which, like the Arena, is also used for musical performances during the summer. After walking up through the terraces, you can take the (non-Roman!) lift up to the Museum, which is absolutely full of incredible Roman artefacts, mosaic floors and sculptures.
As with most of Verona, there is so much to see, you could spend some serious time just in the museum, so if possible you should plan to spend at least a couple of hours here.
Leaving the museum, we headed back to the city over the Ponte Pietra (below), and had a light lunch before catching our train back to Venice.
We really enjoyed our whistle stop tour of Verona, and are looking forward to returning.. possibly for the opera in the Arena later this year. It has fast made its way onto our Favourite Cities list!
One thing is for certain, whether you have 24 hours or a few days to spend here, Verona is an absolute must visit!
As ever, I would love to hear your views or recommendations on this or other posts on my site. Or let me know if you have specific questions on any of the destinations I feature.
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Ciao for now and travel safe!