While Verona isn’t really in Eastern Europe, it is one of the “gateway cities”. Just a couple hours away from the always popular Venice, Verona is a great place to stop off for a day or two. From Venice, Slovenia and Croatia are just a couple hours away. So if you’re going West to East, or East to West…let’s learn a bit about this beautiful Italian city.
Traveling through Italy? Searching for romance? Be sure to include a stop in the beautifully quaint city of Verona. Well known for the Shakespearean tale of Romeo and Juliette, there is plenty to keep you busy in this city just two hours by train from the city of Venice. Because of its importance for the northern region of Italy, Verona was called “little Rome” or Piccola Roma in the Roman Empire. It truly is beautiful in its own right and is worth spending a couple of days in.
With that being said, Eastern European Travel proudly takes a slight break from the usual Eastern Europe content to present…
Everyone has heard Shakespeare’s story of the young lovers kept apart by their families and the tragic way their lives ended. So a trip to Juliette’s house (Casa di Giulietta) is a must. This is quite an attraction in Verona, so expect to wait in line. The courtyard is free, but for 6 euros, you can go inside Juliette’s house, stand out on her famous balcony, and imagine how she felt when Romeo called up to her from below, declaring his love.
Of course, there will be dozens of other tourists below looking upwards, but bring your camera (this is the one I took with me) and have a friend snap a shot of you from the garden. Juliette’s house is open Tuesdays – Sundays from 8:30 am – 7:30 pm, and Mondays from 1:30 pm – 7:30 pm. Best time to visit for a lighter crowd: early in the morning, or late afternoon.
If you want the full picture of Romeo and Juliette’s tragedy, then a stop at her tomb is also worth some of your time. The tomb is located at the other end of town, but is certainly walk able.
And that’s one of the great things about this city – its relatively small size and compactness makes it easy to walk the entire town. No need for a bus tour, taxi, or Uber, assuming you’re up for some walking. Which when you’re traveling through Europe, is generally a fair assumption — plan on doing some serious walking.
Get the right shoes for the job. Something like this works quite well.
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Don’t forget to include a stroll across the Castelvecchio (or Skaliger) Bridge because this is the best part about the castle.
The bridge will make for some great photo ops, of the bridge itself and the beautiful Adige River below. The city of Verona is built around this curving, flowing river, so you can expect to cross it on various pretty bridges, but the Skaliger Bridge is special, with its old red brick and parapets that the agile can climb up to get a better vantage of the river and surrounding hills.
Make sure you read about the Charles Bridge in Prague while you’re here on this site.
By now, all of the walking is probably making you thirsty, and hungry. Worry not, there is some amazing food to be had in Verona! The pizza, pasta, fish, breads, pastries, all are delicious. And then there is the gelato – incredible. We sampled gelato all over Italy and Verona was tops, especially the gelato filled macaroons.
Believe me, if you haven’t tried a gelato filled macaroon you will want to. And you won’t be able to stop at just one of these delectable treats. But hey, you are doing so much walking, why not splurge.
There is also an arena in Verona that you will not want to miss (it’s actually hard to miss, because it is so massive).
Built in 1st Century AD, the Roman amphitheater was originally structured for the famous gladiator fights and hunts of fierce exotic animals, but now the Arena of Verona is used for various shows, public functions and Verona’s famous opera season.
It is a sight to behold because of its size and the fact that you can get up so close and personal. Unfortunately, only four arches are left of the original outer circle. But the inner ring has two rows with 72 arches all built in local white and pink stone.
The main entrance faces the Porta di Borsari, which is what used to be the entrance to the city if you were to travel along the Via Postumia. Today, the façade of the arches are all that is left of the original fort, but you should certainly walk through them on your journey throughout the city.
This garden/park area with its pretty water fountain is a refreshing place to sit and relax when you need a break. Surrounded by an incredible number of outdoor restaurants, it is a fantastic place for people watching or having a delicious meal while enjoying a glass of wine.
If you just want to pick up some food on the street, you can always venture through one of the open-air markets. The traditional market of Verona is the Piazza dell’Erbe. In addition to the many food offerings, many souvenir stands are found around the square, so this might be the place to pick up something for the loved ones waiting for you back home.
Try hiking in the area of Mount Baldo or head to the beach resorts of Lake Garda. If wine tasting is more to your liking, visit the vineyards at Bardolino, Soave, or Valpolicella. Soave in particular, is known for its world famous white wine.
Small, narrow streets add to the charm of the town and the village has a special medieval flair, with the centre completely surrounded by a well-preserved wall with many towers and an impressive Scalager castle standing guard on a hill above the city. In the surviving part of the castle is a museum containing historical armor and furniture.
So, get out your map (or laptop, I assume), to plot your trip through the beautiful country of Italy.
If you need a place to stay in Verona, pick one of the following:
Hotel Giberti is close enough to walk into the main city center, and offers nice housing at a very reasonable price.
It’s also very close to major transit hubs like the Verona railway station. I’ll be the first to tell you that Italy is not a cheap place overall, but this is a good hotel for the value.
This is one of my favorite hotels in Verona, and for good reason. First off, it’s absolutely stunning.
It’s right in the center of Verona—which is already a walkable city. But now you’re right in the action.
Just a few other bonuses…
This place is a phenomanal, high-end hotel with all the bells and whistles.
Palazzo Victoria has 24-hour check-in, full restaurant and bar service, and a heck of a lot more.
Still, compared to a place like Los Angeles or London—Verona is affordable. You can get that junior suite (photo above) via Agoda as cheap as $300 a night (depending on the season).
Make Verona a priority when you are doing your scheduling, booking your flights and finding your hotel reservations. You won’t regret that you spent the time and money to visit this lovely, charming city which offers something for everyone.
Hope you enjoyed this slight “break” from the cold of Eastern Europe (it is February!) by taking this trip detour to Italy.
PS: To learn the local language,
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