Located roughly in the middle of the road between Milan and Venice, Verona is rightfully one of the most popular tourist cities in Italy and impresses travelers with its art, monuments, opera and literary fame.
Verona is located on the bend of the Adige River, which originates in the Alps. The historic center of Verona, Centro Storico, where most of the sights are presented, is connected to the left-bank districts by ten bridges. Since tourists often prefer its charming neighbor Venice, they try to see Verona in one day, but there is so much to see and do that you will want to spend more time in this charming city.
Verona received the status of a Roman colony in 89 BC. after which the time of its heyday began. Several monuments of that time have been preserved, including a Roman amphitheater, and there are many Romanesque churches from the 11th and 12th centuries in the city.
During the Renaissance, Verona became an important center of art, forcing creative people to flock here while still under the rule of the della Scala family. You will find references to them everywhere, they are called Scaligers. The leading architects of the 15th and 16th centuries were Fra Giocondo and Michele Sanmicheli, who built several magnificent buildings and were responsible for the construction of the bastion city walls. Below are photos and descriptions of 14 Verona attractions.
City Museum of Castelvecchio and the Scaliger Bridge (Castelvecchio / Ponte Scaligero)
Castelvecchio was built on the banks of the Adige during the reign of the Scaligers in 1354-55 and is an impressive defensive fortress that reminds all rivals of the strength of the della Scala dynasty. A beautiful 14th century Ponte Scaligero Bridge (Ponte Scaligero) is thrown across the river, along which there is no car traffic, so local families like to walk along it.
From the main tower and the walls of the castle, you can see the bridge, the city streets and the surrounding hills. The interior of the castle was brilliantly restored and adapted for creative exhibition space by the architect Carlo Scarpa, without harming the integrity or history of the castle.
Here are the collections of the city museum of art Civico Museo d’Arte, in particular, Verona sculpture, applied art and works by Bellini, Rubens, Montagni, Guardi, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, Pisano, as well as artists of the Verona school of the 15th and 16th centuries.
A few steps from Corso Cavour is the Arch of Gavi (Arco dei Gavi), a first-century stone triumphal gate that was part of a Roman road. Under the archway, you can find chariot marks on the stone.
Address: Corso Castelvecchio 2 (off Corso Cavour), Verona, Italy.
Arena di Verona
One of the largest of its kind and fairly well preserved Roman amphitheatres, was built in the time of Diocletian, around 290 AD. Despite the fact that only 4 outer arches on the north side have survived, the places in the vaults have been preserved in good condition.
The amphitheater has 44 rows of seats that can accommodate 22,000 spectators. In July and August, the Arena di Verona becomes the venue for the Verona Opera Festival, one of the main summer musical events in Europe, along with the festivals of Bayreuth and Salzburg.
The arena is one side of the wide Piazza Bra (Piazza Brà), opposite is the Palazzo Malfatti (Palazzo Malfatti), created by Sammichele. Next to the long guard building of the Gran Guardi, built in 1614, is the gate and the tower of Portoni della Brà.
Address: Arena di Verona, Verona, Italy.
Juliet’s House (Casa di Giulietta)
The sights of Verona and Italy cannot be imagined without the world-famous scene of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Romeo and Juliet. Tourists constantly asked where the lovers lived, and the kind Veronese people pointed to an inconspicuous medieval palazzo next to Piazza delle Erbe, which had a romantic courtyard where tourists could be without creating a crowd on the street.
In the 1930s, the missing element was added, namely, a balcony was built overlooking the courtyard. A few decades later, the city installed a bronze statue and allowed to be photographed on the balcony.
Despite the fact that the story is fictional, the characters are just literary images, and the plot is not based on any real events or people who lived in Verona (Shakespeare never was here), the city still became a place of pilgrimage and writing letters to the mythical Juliet, on which is answered by a specially trained team of its secretaries.
Address: Juliet’s House, Via Cappello, Verona, Italy.
Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore
The great Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore from the 11th and 12th centuries is rightfully considered the finest Romanesque church in northern Italy. The beautiful front of alternating layers of brick and white tufa ends with a narrow Romanesque bell tower (1045-1178), and nearby, on the site of a former Benedictine abbey, is a defensive tower of the 14th century.
Even if you enter the elegant Romanesque monastery through the side gate, be sure to look out for the bronze doors on the front portal with outstanding Romanesque reliefs of biblical and secular scenes.
The decoration has an unusual 14th-century wooden roof and beautiful Romanesque capitals. The aisles contain frescoes dating back to the 12th century. In the choir there is a marble figure, probably from the 14th century, which can be recognized as Saint Zeno, bishop of Verona in the 4th century.
His reliquary is placed in a crypt, which is rather unusual in that it is equal in size and importance to the altar above it. On the main altar is a 15th-century painting of the Madonna with Saints by Mantegna.
Address: Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore, Piazza San Zeno, Verona, Italy.
Piazza delle Erbe
The main attraction of the historic center of Verona is the compact Piazza delle Erbe. This is perhaps one of the most picturesque squares in Italy. Piazza delle Erbe is located on the site of the ancient Roman forum, and now it is a fruit and vegetable market.
In the center of the square is the 16th-century “Berlina” – a canopy on four columns, previously used for elections. To the north of the canopy is a fountain from 1368 with the Madonna of Verona, a marble statue from ancient times that was reconstructed in the Middle Ages.
In the northern corner of the square there is a marble column with the lion of St. Mark, which is a symbol of the former rulers of Verona, when Venice ruled over it. To the northeast stands the Casa Mazzanti, originally built by the Scaligers.
Like many houses here, it is decorated with Renaissance frescoes. Also on the square is the Palace of Maffei (Palazzo Maffei) of 1668 of the Baroque construction and the Tower of del Gardello of 1370. The Casa dei Mercanti in Via Pellicciai was rebuilt in 1878 in its original form dating back to 1301.
You will definitely not miss the Lamberti Tower (Torre dei Lamberti), 84 meters high with a medieval bell. You can take the elevator up to the tower, from the top there is a beautiful view of the old part of the city from a bird’s eye view.
At the opposite end of the piazza, Via Mancini is a pedestrian street with Verona’s most fashionable boutiques.
Address: Piazza Erbe, 37121 Verona VR, Italy.
Signoria Square and the Loggia of the Council (Piazza dei Signori / Loggia del Consiglio)
Turning off Piazza delle Erbe, you will find yourself in Piazza della Signoria, surrounded by palaces. A monument to Dante was erected in the center of the square in 1865.
In the southern part, in 1193, the Palace of Justice (Palazzo della Ragione) or Town Hall was built, but it was rebuilt many times in subsequent centuries. The main facade is decorated in the Renaissance and dates back to 1524. The courtyard is decorated with a Gothic front staircase from 1446-50, where the entrance to the Lamberti Tower (Torre dei Lamberti) is located.
Also on the square are the battlement tower and the Tribunal’s Palace (Palazzo dei Tribunali), converted in 1530–31 from the Scaliger Palace, with the addition of Renaissance doors by Michele Sanmicheli.
To the east is the Palazzo del Governo, originally another palace of the former rulers.
To the north of Piazza della Signoria is the Loggia of the Council, one of the finest early Renaissance buildings in Italy. It was built by Fra Giocondo from 1486 to 1493 and topped with statues of famous citizens of Verona. Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient Roman street, mosaics and other interesting items here that you can view from the entrance of the adjacent large courtyard.
Address: Piazza dei Signori, Verona, Italy.
Tombs of the Scaligers (Arche Scaligere)
The beautiful little church of Santa Maria Antica was completed in the 12th century and became the family church of the Scala dynasty who ruled Verona in the 13th and 14th centuries.
The tombs of the dynasty almost overshadow the church itself, as they are crowned with images of the rulers in full armor.
Above the church door are a sarcophagus and a copy of an equestrian statue of Cangrande della Scala, who died in 1329 (the original is on display at Castelvecchio).
On the left is a wall monument in memory of Giovanni (died 1359), and the sarcophagus of Mastino I from 1277. Inside the railing under a canopy are sarcophagi and equestrian statues of Mastino II and Cansignorio, who died in 1351 and 1375.
Address: Arche Scaligere, Verona, Italy.
Verona Cathedral (Duomo di Santa Maria Matricolare)
The cathedral is a 12th-century Romanesque basilica with a 15th-century Gothic nave. Nearby is a Romanesque bell tower designed by Sanmicheli but not completed until 1927.
On the beautiful main door of the cathedral are the figures of two knights of the Caroline epic: Roland and Oliver, made between 1139 and 1153.
Inside, on the first altar on the left is the main highlight of the church – Titian’s “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” of 1525, and at the end of the aisle in the southern part – the Gothic tomb of St. Agatha from 1353.
Tourists will be impressed by the red marble columns and marble choirs. To the left of the cathedral is a Romanesque cloister built in 1123 with an early Christian mosaic floor on the lower level.
Address: Cathedral-Duomo complex, Verona, Italy.
Santa Anastasia (Sant’Anastasia)
Santa Anastasia is a late 13th-century Gothic church overlooking a small square in the heart of Verona. Above its stone portal, scenes from the life of St. Peter are carved, and above them is a 15th-century fresco.
Inside, you will see a pair of hunchbacks carved in marble sitting by bowls of holy water. The left grotesque statue was made by Gabriele Caliari, the father of the painter Paolo Veronese. Don’t miss the fresco “Saint George Delivering the Princess” by Pisanello.
Address: Sant’Anastasia, Verona, Italy.
Behind the 16th-century Palazzo Giusti is the beautiful Giusti Garden with paths, antique statues and hedge labyrinths. On the other side, up the steep embankment is a more informal garden with a grotto and city views framed by beautiful old cypresses.
Although not the largest, it ranks among the finest Renaissance gardens in Italy. Especially in the summer heat, the garden will be a great place to relax outside the city.
Address: Giusti Garden, Verona, Italy
Roman Theater and Ponte Pietra (Teatro Romano / Ponte Pietra)
The Roman theater was built in the 1st century during the reign of Augustus and restored by archaeologists between 1904 and 1939. From the theater itself, you can see the remains of the stage, the tuff walls and the stones in the stage pit with holes in which the ropes were pulled to open and close the wings.
More interesting views open from the auditorium, which was laid in the hillside, and marble mosaics can be seen on the floor. The theater is the venue for the Verona Summer Jazz Festival.
The Roman bridge Ponte Pietra was blown up during World War II, like the rest of the bridges in Verona, but after the end of the war, its slabs were lifted from the river, carefully sorted and rebuilt as a bridge that can be enjoyed today.
Address: Roman Theater, Verona, Italy.
Church of San Fermo Maggiore
The first church of San Fermo Maggiore was built in the eighth century in memory of Saints Fermo and Rustico, who were believed at the time to have been killed in the gladiatorial arena. In the 11th century, the temple was rebuilt, and only the crypt remained from the original.
The current church has retained its Romanesque lower part from the 11th century, with a Gothic upper part from the 13th to the 14th century. The facade is beautifully finished with marble. The church houses a 14th-century wooden crucifix and the Adoration of the Shepherds by Alessandro Turchi. Look for the Pisanello frescoes above the Brenzoni monument and other frescoes surrounding the pulpit.
Address: Church of San Fermo Maggiore, Via Dogana, Verona, Italy.
Sirmione and Rocca Scaligera
Located at the end of a long promontory that stretches towards the southern end of Lake Garda, about 40 minutes from Verona, the city of Sirmione attracts inquisitive tourists. You enter the city via a drawbridge at the foot of the beautiful castle of Rocca Scaliger, built in the 12th century by the ruling Scaliger family of Verona.
After exploring the restored rooms of the castle, climb the tower for views of the lake and the city.
Stroll along the main street of Sirmione with chic shops and take a guided tour to the far end of the peninsula. The Roman poet Catullus, who lived from 84 to 54 BC, built a villa here to soak in the sulfur springs, which can now be visited in a luxurious spa.
The remains of his villa, the Grotte di Catullo, and the complex surrounding it, deserve your attention as part of history or as a place that offers a beautiful view of the lake.
Address: Sirmione, Brescia, Italy
Day trip to Mantova
Fifty kilometers south of Verona is the capital of the province of Mantova. It was the residence of the Gonzaga family from 1328 to 1707, who made Mantova one of the most refined and cultural capitals, with a great center of art and learning.
The luxurious residence of the dynasty, the massive Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale), dominates the city and is still one of the most luxurious palaces in Italy. Today it houses several important collections, including paintings, sculptures from ancient Greece and Rome, sculptures from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and tapestries made from Raphael’s sketches.
They are exhibited in sumptuous cabinets decorated with frescoes, ceiling paintings and ornate ceilings. Mantova is home to the church of Sant’Andrea, which is a masterpiece of early Renaissance architecture built by Leon Batista Alberti in 1472-94 with a transept and choir added in 1600.
Another famous landmark of Mantova is the one-story Palazzo del Te, built for Gonzaga around 1535 by the architect Giulio Romano. It is decorated with beautiful frescoes and stucco.
Address: Mantova, Italy.