Are you wondering what makes Verona worth visiting?
Then you’ve come to the right place. Having explored this enchanting city in the Veneto region not once, but twice, I’m excited to share my first-hand experiences.
In this article, I spill the beans on why Verona deserves a spot on your Italy itinerary.
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15 Reasons to Visit Verona, Italy
So why is Verona worth visiting?
For me, it’s all about history, culture, beauty, food and wine. And it helps that this feels like an authentic Italian city and one that is very walkable and has excellent rail and air connections.
1. Verona is steeped in history
Attracted by its strategic position on the navigable River Adige at the foot of a busy Alpine pass, the Romans colonised Verona in 89 BC. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, the city maintained its status as a regional capital and in 1107 it became a free commune.
The city flourished during the rule of the wealthy Della Scala (Scaligeri) family in the 13th and 14th Centuries. After the Scaligeri were kicked out of town in 1387, Verona was claimed by Milan and then Venice.
In the 19th century, Verona was integrated into the unified Kingdom of Italy.
2. The city has a wealth of historic buildings
Verona’s historical tapestry is woven through its medieval architectural gems and well-preserved Roman remnants.
With its elegant squares and labyrinthine streets lined with centuries-old buildings, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a captivating blend of medieval and Renaissance influences.
Once the site of the Roman Forum, Piazza del Erbe has been the focal point of civic life in Verona for millennia. Piazza dei Signori is one of the loveliest squares in Northern Italy and has buildings spanning five centuries.
Verona’s ancient architecture tells of its Roman roots.
Whispers of the city’s defensive walls lie in its two Roman gates: Porta Bosari and Porta Leoni. Dating from the 1st century BC, the Roman Theatre of Verona offers a glimpse into Roman entertainment and culture.
3. Verona’s Roman Arena is one of the most magnificent in the world
But the jewel in Verona’s historic crown is the Roman Arena. Built from pink Valpolicella limestone, Arena di Verona started to host gladiator duels in the middle of the 1st Century AD.
I was awestruck by its scale. Measuring 466 by 400 feet, Verona’s Roman Arena is the eighth-largest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire and the fourth-largest in Italy.
4. The city hosts many cultural events
Today’s pleasure-seekers flock to the Arena to attend cultural events.
The most famous of these is the Verona Opera Festival (Arena di Verona Opera Festival). Creating a unique fusion of art, history and music beneath the starlit Italian sky, this festival attracts international audiences.
5. Verona is the City of Love
Verona has to thank the Bard of Avon for making it a household name.
As the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the city has become a beacon for the lovelorn across the globe. Of the five million people that visit Verona each year, it’s a fair bet that some are hoping that they will be sprinkled with the city’s romantic fairy dust.
Hopeful romantics flock to Juliet’s House and Balcony and queue to touch Juliet’s bronze breast, said to bring good fortune in love. Other Romeo and Juliet sites in Verona include Romeo’s House (Casa di Romeo) and Juliet’s Tomb (Tomba di Giulietta).
6. Verona has picturesque bridges
Verona’s historical legacy is also seen in two achingly beautiful bridges.
Straddling the Adige River, the iconic Ponte Pietra was completed in 100 BC. It was heavily damaged during World War II and rebuilt with slabs of marble fished out of the river.
Ponte Scaligero is equally impressive. Also known as Castelvecchio Bridge, this fortified bridge with crenellated walls was built in the 14th century and leads to the Castelvecchio fortress.
7. It has wonderful historic churches
The churches of Verona hold profound historical and cultural significance, serving as windows into the city’s rich and diverse history. From the Romanesque splendour of San Zeno Maggiore to the Renaissance frescoes in the Duomo, each of these sacred spaces has a unique story to tell.
Verona’s remarkable churches are not merely artefacts; they are living expressions of the faith and creativity of Verona’s past inhabitants. Exquisite frescoes, intricately carved altars, and exquisite stained glass windows illuminate the spiritual narratives and artistic innovations of their respective eras.
Beyond their spiritual role, these churches stand as living testaments to Verona’s rich past and artistic prowess.
8. Verona is home to artistic treasures
But Verona’s artistic treasures are not just confined to its churches.
Art fangirls and fanboys should head to the Castelvecchio Museum. Housed in a medieval fortress, this museum showcases paintings, sculptures and decorative arts, including works by Paolo Veronese and Jacopo Bellini.
9. Verona is a very walkable city
Verona’s city centre occupies a well-defined bend in the River Adige. The key attractions in this pedestrianised historic core are easily explored on foot.
And if that’s not enough, there are scenic pathways along the river, perfect for leisurely walks and unbeatable city views.
10. Verona offers an excellent value city pass
This may not be one of the most compelling reasons to visit Verona but it sure is a bonus. Not only did Verona’s city pass save me a ton of money but it was convenient and included a skip-the-line ticket for the Roman Arena.
The 24-hour or 48-hour Verona Card gives you free or discounted admission to key attractions across the city. It also offers reductions on selected tours and free rides on city buses.
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11. It is at the heart of one of Italy’s best wine regions
The area around Verona is awash with wine. It is the sloshing cradle of four of Italy’s best-known DOC wines: white Soave and Bianco di Custoza, and red Valpolicella and Bardolino.
One of the most rewarding ways to spend time in Verona is to join a wine tour.
Some of these take place in the heart of Verona; others are located in the vineyards that surround the city. All of these Verona wine tours offer a perfect introduction to the famous wines of the Veneto region.
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12. Veneto cuisine is delicious
You will eat well in Verona.
Regional dishes include Risotto all’Amarone, a creamy risotto infused with Amarone wine, and Pastissada de Caval, a slow-cooked beef stew. Potato gnocchi, served with melted butter and sage, and polenta are also local favourites.
No culinary journey of Verona is complete without Fritole (fritters). This is a typical carnival dessert, made from flour, eggs, apples and raisins which are then fried.
13. It is not rammed with tourists
Verona’s peaceful ambience is another compelling reason to visit.
Unlike neighbouring Venice, Verona offers serenity and a slow pace. If you’ve ever visited La Serenissima in peak season you’ll know what I mean.
The tranquillity allows you to immerse yourself in the city’s charm, explore its streets and savour its cultural treasures without being poked in the eye by selfie sticks at every corner. This quieter pace fosters a more intimate connection with Verona’s rich history and local life, resulting in a more authentic Italian experience.
14. Verona has superb transport connections
Verona is one of Northern Italy’s most important railway hubs. Trains from the city’s main train station, Verona Porta Nuova, serve major cities like Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome, as well as regional and international routes to destinations in Switzerland, Austria and Germany.
Located just six miles southwest of the city centre, Verona’s small airport (Catullo Airport) is served by flights from some European cities, including London. It’s easy to get from Verona airport to the city centre by bus or taxi.
But if Catullo Airport doesn’t work for you, Verona is also close to airports in Venice and Milan.
15. Verona is an excellent base for day trips galore
Verona’s central location in the Veneto region, and its excellent rail connections, make it an ideal starting point for day trips.
Venice, Milan, Bologna, Padua (Padova), Mantua and Vicenza are connected to Verona by frequent and inexpensive trains. This makes medieval city-hopping easy and the direct train to beautiful Lake Garda takes just under half an hour.
On my first visit, I took a day trip from Venice to Verona by train. My most recent visit included day trips from Verona to Padua, Vicenza and Desenzano on Lake Garda. All of these outings were easy and rewarding.
How Many Days Do You Need in Verona?
In one day, you can do an enjoyable, albeit quick, blitz of Verona, including a visit to the Roman Arena and Juliet’s House.
However, for a relaxing visit, stay for two or three days. It will feel less rushed and you will be able to dive deeper into the city’s history, explore museums like Castelvecchio and enjoy leisurely meals at the city’s excellent restaurants.
Which is Better: Verona or Venice?
Verona vs Venice? That’s a tough call to make.
Venice is an iconic travel destination and a one-of-a-kind city. It is a magnet for lovers of art and architecture and has a rich history as a maritime powerhouse.
That said, Venice is a victim of its undeniable charm. For much of the year, it is rammed with visitors, costs are high and the food served by some of its restaurants is the worst in Italy.
It is often far from an authentic Italian experience.
Verona is an excellent choice if you are seeking a more relaxed and culturally rich experience, particularly if you’re interested in history and local cuisine. For lovers of Shakespeare, Verona is famous as the setting for Romeo and Juliet.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t possess the quantity and diversity of cultural offerings found in Venice.
But since Verona and Verona are close to each other, you can visit both if you have the time and inclination.
Which is Better: Florence or Verona?
Verona vs Florence? Another tricky decision.
Choose Florence if you are an art and culture enthusiast. This Tuscan city is renowned for museums like the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia, housing masterpieces by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, to name but a few.
Known as the Cradle of the Renaissance, Florence oozes history and beauty, from Brunelleschi’s dome to the Ponte Vecchio, the most famous of the bridges across the River Arno.
Verona also offers a culturally rich experience, minus the crowds that descend on Florence. It’s also a better choice if you are interested in Roman history.
However, Verona lacks the number of artistic treasures found in Florence.
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Is Verona Worth Visiting?
I fell head over heels with the City of Love when I first visited Verona as a wide-eyed 20-something. That passion was rekindled in my 50s.
Verona is a taste of pure Italy. Dripping with romance, this beautiful and friendly city has enough things to see to satisfy history and art fans for a week.
As a gateway to the Veneto region and Lake Garda, Verona is an excellent base for visiting the north of Italy, including Venice.
Whether you’re interested in history, romance, or simply enjoying the local food and wine, Verona has something to captivate every traveller.