[VERONA, ITALY] — Verona was never on at the top of my list, I always heard it was just a place where bus tours stop to all stand under the Romeo and Juliet balcony. Boy was I wrong. When my buddies were flying out of the Verona airport we spent a day and a half checking it out. I loved it so much, I came back by myself the following week. I was blown away how gorgeous, clean and manageable this Italian city is. Here are all my best things to do in Verona.

The city has so much history beyond Romeo & Juliet. From Dante to the big Veronese families to the football team. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the whole city, so you know that’s a seal of approval.

Arena di Verona

The Best Things To Do In Verona

The old city of Verona is actually quite small and mostly pedestrianized, so it’s very easy to get around. You can see most everything in a day, but you should spend extra time getting into the mellow vibe of this cool city and just sit in an outdoor cafe. Tons of old Roman ruins, lots of medieval and renaissance buildings, cool streets and tons of great restaurants.

You park your car in the nearest lot outside of the city center and walk the rest of time. It takes only minutes to cross from one end to the other.

Santuario della Madonna di Lourdes Verona
Santuario della Madonna di Lourdes

Get a Good View of the City

Piazzale Castel San Pietro Verona sunset
Piazzale Castel San Pietro

In the morning or before sunset, walk up the pine palace of Piazzale Castel San Pietro for the best views of the river, bridges, towers and all of the city. The light in midday is stark, hot and blah. You’ll get better views and pics with the warmth of morning or evening sun. Plus, there’s an ancient Roman amphitheater right there just for giggles.

The Bridges of Verona and the River Adige

Adige River sidewalk

The Adige River runs through town and creates an oxbow turn, so nearly everywhere is close to the river. It’s the second longest river in Italy after the Po and runs from the Swiss/Austrian border all the way to the Adriatic. Ancient bridges cross here and there, connecting the peninsula to the other sides.

Castelvecchio Bridge sunset
Castelvecchio Bridge

The Castelvecchio Bridge was built in the 1300s and was fortified to protect the tyrant who might need to run away from his castle to escape from his rather upset subjects. There are cool arrow slots along the way for soldiers to protect him. It was blown up by the retreating Germans in WWII to slow the Allied advance and was rebuilt from all the rubble that fell into the river.

Ponte Pietra Verona
Ponte Pietra

The Ponte Pietra is the oldest bridge in Verona, built by the Romans in 100 AD. The hun Germans also blew it up when they were retreating WWII, so the white sections are of the only part of the roman arches left before they reconstructed it. They were able to recover a lot of the original Roman material that fell into the river and used that to rebuild the bridge in the 50s.

The old Roman road used to cross over this very bridge since centrally-located Verona was one of Rome’s most fortified cities so it could control the lands into the Dolomites and from the Adriatic to the Mediterranean.

Adige River trees
La cattedrale di Santa Maria Matricolare sunset
The Duomo of Verona. La Cattedrale di Santa Maria Matricolare

The Elegant Piazzas of Verona

Palazzo Domus Nova people eating
Piazza dei Signori

So many piazzas in Italy are giant, noisy, busy contraptions. With scooters or cars zooming past you. What blew me away about Verona was how mellow, quiet and serene the major piazzas are, loomed over by great medieval and renaissance palaces, nodding with appreciation for the restaurants dotted below. It’s because there are no cars or noisy mopeds, for the most part.

These are not tourists traps, but where Veronese go themselves. And because so many of the streets are pedestrian, it’s calm and quiet for the most part.

Piazza Erbe, Verona at night
Piazza delle Erbe

Romans, Romans Everywhere

How many times a day do you think about the Roman Empire? For me, it’s about 27-32 times a day. I can’t get enough of it. So when I stumble upon some ancient Roman stuff I just get giddy. It’s catnip to me.

Verona became an extremely important Roman fortified city because three different major Roman roads crossed here, the Roman roads connected from Genoa on the Mediterranean to Trieste on the Adriatic (Via Postumia) and from Roma to the mountains to the north.

There are Roman ruins everywhere in Verona, something I didn’t realize when I came here, but plan to come back to explore further. I walked through the Porta Borsari on a shopping street without even realizing it was the main entrance to the old Roman city, still intact. Everywhere you look there are telltale signs or Roman buildings.

If you look at the current street grid, it pretty much follows the ancient Roman street grid. There are some preserved runs of the actual road you can see in several places, even see the ruts from the chariots and carriages.

The Arena di Verona was built in 30 AD and is the third largest and best preserved Roman amphitheaters in Italy. The first opera was was played in here in 1913 and now even One Direction has played here, but you can go see the opera here all the time and they hold other concerts. You can go inside and check it out, even when there isn’t a concert.

Night time Arena di Verona

Where to Eat in Verona

Alla Colonna diners
Verona outdoor dining at night

I find my favorite places by my WAUYSSC Method™️ (Walk Around Until You See Something Cool). Verona is loaded with them. You can always tell the good places by a) the people eating b) the lighting.

Verona best restaurant area
Because this was a spontaneous trip, I didn’t have time to research the best restaurants. But most things I read said to head to this area down by the river, right side. Dozens of restaurants tucked under porticos. It was a really cool area.
Osteria Sottoriva at night

Osteria Ponte Pietra Ristorante

Osteria Ponte Pietra Ristorante bar
Osteria Ponte Pietra Ristorante

This was my favorite restaurant in Verona. Hundreds of years old and overlooking the even older Ponte Pietra. Ask for a terrace table. They have seats in side, on the terrace, a suite you can reserve and even a cute little outdoor cafe in the front.

Locanda Ai Portici waiter
Locanda Ai Portici

I had a great meal at Locanda Ai Portici (I think that’s the name). You can’t beat the gorgeous setting.

Verona busy restaurant

Enoteca Cangrande

Had a nice meal at Enoteca Cangrande by just stopping by. Nice little sidewalk cafe. With a friendly owner talking to everybody.

Ristorante Enoteca Cangrande owner

Stay at Palazzo Victoria Hotel

Palazzo Victoria hotel bedroom

The Palazzo Victoria is a bit traditional for my typical tastes, but I really really loved staying here. Most of Verona is pedestrianized, but the hotel is right on the edge so you can park nearby after zooming down from The Dolomites. Once parked, you don’t need your car again as the whole city is pretty small, quiet and easily walkable.

It is built right on top of old Roman ruins and has several peekaboo windows into the ruins or a column popping out here and there. Other areas have medieval walls still intact. It has a cool outdoor club/bar.

— Last Visited, Twice, in July 2017 —

More Information on Verona

Verona geography
You can see why Verona is the gateway to the lakes of Como and Gard and at the very foothills of the Dolomites. Venice is right over there. Milano to the left. A perfect situation.
Verona location in Italy
Verona autostrada map

Verona is strategically located in the central part of northern Italy, right along the autostrada that crosses the whole country from Turin to Tieste.

Here’s the city’s official tourist website with everything you need to know. Here is the Visit Verona website. This is just a fantastic website of the city, Veronissima, I think it is run by a tour company.

Here is 36 Hours in Verona from NY Times. And the 10 Best Places to Stay in Verona from The Guardian. And a rival 10 Best Hotels in The Telegraph. And a Weekend Trip to Verona article from Marie Claire.

Here’s a Condé Nast Traveller article on the best places to eat in Verona. If you’re interested in Roman stuff, Veronissma has multiple tours.

Here’s a link to a post I made about another underrated town, Bologna.

More Information on Palazzo Victoria Hotel

Here’s the Condé Nast Traveller review of Palazzo Victoria hotel. And a great honest review from The Telegraph on the Palazzo Victoria. Here’s the NH Hotel booking site for Palazzo Victoria.

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