A day in Verona
There's a whole lot more to Verona than the Arena and Juliet's Balcony...
Ideally, you should start your tour of Verona from the Piazzale Castel San Pietro. Not only because, if you are travelling by car, you can park here for free, but because this is one of the least crowded and most panoramic spots in the whole city too!
Verona's historic center, which is enclosed within a U shaped area carved out by the River Adige, is relatively small. At first you may find it difficult to orientate yourself - so it's a good idea to start with a view of 'the city of Romeo and Juliet' from above...
On the banks of the Adige
Having taken a peek at the abandoned Castel San Pietro, make your way down the steps which bring you to river level. On your way, take time to visit both Verona's brand new public park and the ruins of the Roman theater.
The Ponte Pietra, at the bottom of the steps, is one of the most photographed sites in Verona. The ancient bridge, the winding River Adige, and the imposing profile of San Giorgio in Braida make the perfect snapshot.
Off the beaten track, in Veronetta
Cross Ponte Pietra and you'll find yourself slap bang in the heart of the historic center. Alternatively, stay on the other side of the river and experience the part of the city which, during the 19th century, was under Austrian rule. This area, Veronetta, has yet to be included in the classic tourist tours, meaning that you can enjoy its treasures, such as the 16th century Giusti Gardens, in peace.
Walk along Via XX Settembre, past beautifully conserved 19th century town houses and shops selling ethnic goods, to reach Porta Vescovo.
From Porta Vescovo, make your way up Santo Sepolcro and continue along San Zeno in Monte and Via Fontana del Ferro to discover the city's old bastions and defense walls from which splendid views of the hills surrounding the city can be seen.
Piazza Isolo, the part of Veronetta closest to the city's historic center, is the perfect place in which to savor the flavor of the city's traditional cuisine, without spending a fortune. Whilst you'll have a great meal wherever you decide to eat in Piazza Isolo, if it's good honest home cooking you want, there's nowhere quite as good and honest as "Trattoria all'Isolo"!
Great gathering grounds
Whether you travel to Verona by train or by car, you'll no doubt access the historic center via the Porta Nuova and the tree-lined avenue from where amazing views of the Lessini Mountains can be seen. This avenue leads to the famous Piazza Bra, home to Verona Arena.
Once in Piazza Bra, if you can manage to resist the temptation to head straight to the Arena, take time to see the "listone": the sidewalk dotted with pavement cafes designed by Zeffirelli.
For the locals the busy Piazza Bra is a crossroads rather than a place to linger and, in fact, the only people you'll find in the pricey bars and restaurants lining the piazza are tourists.
It's in Piazza Erbe, the large square at the end of the shop-lined Via Mazzini, that the inhabitants of Verona come to meet and mingle
Living like the locals: in Piazza Erbe
Once the site of the city's Roman Forum, Piazza Erbe more than merits a visit. Want to hang out with the locals? Have a coffee at Mazzanti, the bar where the Veronesi gather for pre and after dinner drinks (especially at the weekend). Want something a little more elegant? Saunter into Filippini for a leisurely aperitif and an unforgettable view of the Piazza.
Most of the city's best known attractions; the three interconnecting squares of Piazza Dante, Piazza del Mercato Vecchio and Piazza del Tribunale, the Sagliere arches, Romeo's house (situated above Verona's much-loved Al Duca restaurant), Juliet's balcony, the Ancient Roman gateways of Porta Leona and Porta Borsari, and the Cathedral, are all located within the same 100sqm.
Whilst caffeine addicts will want to squeeze into the microscopic Caffè Tubino, on Corso Portoni Borsari. Wine lovers should make their way to the legendary Osteria Bugiardo, on the same street
Of course, no visit to Verona can be considered complete without first having visited the city's Castelvecchio, with its marvelous Scaligero Bridge.
Take a romantic stroll along the river bank to reach the beautiful Basilica of San Zeno. It's here, in the picture-perfect district of Zeno, that you'll experience the true spirit of Verona - and what is, quite possibly, the best gelato in the whole of Italy!
Where to eat and drink in Verona: insider tips
- Pizzeria Impero
- Osteria Bugiardo
- Trattoria all'Isolo U
- Caffè Tubino
- Gelateria Zeno
- Caffè Mazzantini
- Bar Filippini
Our Insider is Patrizia Belsito
Patrizia Belsito is a fashion designer with a passion for travel: when she's not busy working for her clothing brand, she can be found travelling with her partner Gabrio. Together they have created the blog Fashion for Travel.
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