Alone-a in Verona

I arrived in Verona on an 8-hour overnight bus trip from Prague, Czech Republic completely on my own. Falling asleep on the ride was not easy, but I woke up while the bus was driving through a valley in the Dolomites of northern Italy. A rainbow arched over the mountains and little villages were at the foot of each formation. Not a bad thing to wake up to.

Verona turned out to be a pleasant surprise, possibly the most pleasant surprise I've had out of the places I've visited thus far. Honestly, I was visiting Verona only because it was much more convenient to get to Lake Garda from there than the other places I had researched. I had a full day in Verona before going to Lake Garda. All I knew about it was the Roman arena in the center of town and that the setting of Shakespeare's fictional play Romeo and Juliet is Verona. After a bit of initial exploring, I realized just how much the city had to offer. Verona left me questioning whether or not it was even a real city on planet earth.

Verona has been important in Italy since the era of the Roman Empire. Evidence of this is highlighted by the Verona Arena, a Roman amphitheater that still holds concerts and events right in the center of town. The piazza around it includes old city entrances and the Gran Gaurdia palace. A few minutes away from the Arena is the Castelvecchio, a medieval castle and museum. The unique artifacts housed inside make it well worth the visit as you can explore the history of the region's famous 14th century rulers: the della Scala (Scaliger) family.

I knew that the Verona Arena was the city's major piece of Roman history. However, there are more Roman ruins at the Roman Theater archaeological museum. This theater still holds concerts as well. Buying a ticket allows you to see these areas up close, but much of the ruins and the theater can be seen without buying a ticket as you make your way up the winding stairs to the Castel San Pietro. The Castel offers incredible views of the entire city (for free, might I add) and the walk up to it is as vintage chic as vintage chic can get.

Further up in the bend of the Adige River is home to impressive churches, towers, and statues of historical figures of fiction, literature, and rulers. One of the largest of these churches is Santa Anastasia in one of the most ancient parts of the city. It is easily spotted because of its bell tower near the river. Be sure to go inside San Pietro Martire Church for some lesser known history as well. It is on the left side when facing the facade of Santa Anastasia.

Another major tower in Verona's skyline is that of the Verona Cathedral (Complesso della Cattedrale-Duomo), a white cathedral not far from the Ponte Pietra bridge. A third icon is the medieval bell tower Torre dei Lamberti. This tower is worth a visit because it dates back to the 1100s and gives a panoramic view of the city. It is located at the Piazza Erbe. This is a major city square with shopping, painted buildings, and the Fontana Madonna fountain. Piazza Erbe is rather centrally located. What is known as Juliet's House is nearby, complete with Juliet's balcony and statue. Romeo's House is further south. Follow more Scaliger family history at the Scaliger Tombs. These are funerary monuments from the 1300s at the Santa Maria Antica Church. In between the Scaliger Tombs and Piazza Erbe is the Piazza dei Signori with its famous statue of Dante Alighieri, who was not only a famous Italian poet, but also a guest of the Scaligers during their family's reign.

Verona doesn't have one specific color. It's best described as what the green, white, and red colors of the flag of Italy would describe: pure Italian. Verona blends the colorful and classic look of a small Italian village with all the major landmarks of a large Italian city. It brings the iconic landscapes of Tuscany to an easily accessible and cultural center of the world. It is ancient, Shakespearean, historical, artsy, and as I said before, very pleasantly surprising.

Transportation tips: There is no metro system, only buses. But major points of interest are not far from one another. The city is best explored on foot. The train station and main bus station connects the city with the rest of Italy, making it easy to incorporate Verona into your itinerary.

Piazza Erbe and Fontana Madonna

Verona Arena


Castelvecchio Courtyard

Roman Ruins

View of the Verona Cathedral from Castel San Pietro

Front Facade of Santa Anastasia 

Adige River and the Santa Anastasia Bell Tower

Scaliger Tombs