Verona is a city of historic proportions. Home to the greatest love story to span the centuries, ancient architecture and tantalizing gastronomic traditions. Let yourself wander through the alleyways, uncovering hidden corners to steal kisses and marvel at the beauty with this Verona City Guide.
A setting for the famous Shakespeare’s tragedy and one of the most romantic Italian cities, Verona has enchanted many visitors. However, there is more to it than Romeo and Juliet. Brimming with architectural gems, ancient ruins, excellent restaurants and superb wine bars, the city is a paradise for history buffs, Italophiles, foodies and wine lovers. While visiting the most famous Juliet’s house and the Arena di Verona must be on your list of things to do in the city, make sure you leave plenty of time for some lesser-known places.
Admire the best views
Almost everyone climbs steps of the Lamberti Tower for sweeping views of the city, however, it is not your only option for admiring Verona from above. Giardino Giusti, one of the most beautiful Renaissance gardens in Italy, has splendid fountains, cool grottoes and a magnificent panorama of the city. My favourite city skyline observation point is the square by Castel San Pietro early in the morning. Walking up a few hundred steps up the hill can be quite a challenge but it is worth the effort. If you don’t fancy the work out skip the steps and get a cable car to the top.
There are other picture-worthy vistas in Verona that do not require climbing up towers and hills. Take a table at the Terrazza Bar al Ponte to gaze at the beauty of the ancient Ponte Pietra, Roman amphitheatre and the hill with the castle atop from the comfort of your chair while sipping a glass of wine. Another comfy spot for contemplating city’s splendour is the terrace at Cappa Caffé.
Sample local cuisine
Many restaurants in Verona offer traditional dishes that locals have enjoyed for centuries. In winter, try the pastisada de’ Caval, a horsemeat stew which originating in the 5th century. Trattoria di Rapeton serves a good pastisada among other hearty local fares.
Meat lovers will love the bollito con la pearà, cuts of boiled beef, veal, tongue and cotechino dressed with a thick sauce of breadcrumbs and pepper. In the Ristorante Castelvecchio, uniformed waiters in white gloves serve hearty bollito in opulent surroundings: heavy drapes, chandeliers, silver candelabras, dark wood and plenty of history that comes with the location, a noble 18th-century palace.
Risotto all’amarone is a less calorific culinary delight made with a local rice variety called Vialone nano, the heady Amarone della Valpolicella wine and generous amounts of Monte Veronese cheese. Antica Bottega del Vino doesn’t only serve a delectable risotto all’amarone, it also one of the most highly acclaimed wine cellars in Italy and continues to win numerous prestigious awards. The wine list here is an impressive volume of almost 200 pages featuring Italian and international labels including the best Amarone producers such as Zenato.
Visit the Well of Love
Any local will tell you that Romeo and Julieta are fictional characters and a marketing ploy. If you want a real-life love story, head to the Well of Love (Il Pozzo dell’Amore) in the narrow Pozzo San Marco alleyway, near Piazza delle Erbe. In the small square, there is a medieval stone well where, according to a local legend, two lovers met their end in the 16th century. It is said that a young soldier, Corrado, fell in love with beautiful Isabella, who didn’t seem to care for him much. Once, on a cold winter day, the lovers met at the piazza. Corrado told Isabella that her beauty was as cold as the water on the bottom of the well. Offended, Isabella challenged the soldier to jump in and check the true temperature of the water. Desperate for her love, he obediently threw himself into the well and subsequently didn’t survive. As it turned out, Isabella was truly madly in love with him and, unable to bear the loss, followed him into the well. As the legend has it, if you toss a coin into the well all the lovers of the world will communicate more truthfully, including yours. If you are seeking a less morbid romance story, take your better half to the Enoteca Segreta, a two-minute stroll from the tragic well. Here you can book a candle-lit dinner in their intimate cozy wine cellar with a table for two.
Browse local markets
Located in the heart of Verona, Piazza delle Erbe has been a trading place for centuries. The tradition continues today with a daily market selling fruit and veg, flowers and cheap souvenirs. Every day there is also a farmers’ market in different locations across the city where locals stock up on fresh produce, cheese, wine and cured meats. Every Thursday, one of those farmers’ market pops up at the Arsenale, near Castelvecchio.
Antique lovers must head to the Mercato dell’Antiquariato outside the San Zeno church. This fantastic market takes place every third Saturday and first Sunday of the month. Here you can spend a few delightful hours browsing collectables, vintage clothes, jewellery and art. Don’t blame us if you have to pay extra-baggage fees on the way home!
Explore local wineries
Verona is one of Italy’s most important wine hubs. Surrounded by famous wine producing areas of Valpolicella, Soave, Bardolino and Custoza, the city is a perfect base for exploring some of the region’s best wineries. Such producers as Zenato, Bortolomiol and Col Vetoraz organize guided vineyard tours and tastings with The Grand Wine Tour.
The Grand Wine Tour is a mark of excellence in hospitality distinguishing Italian wineries throughout the country. Book your tasting and tour today!