Castelvecchio en Ponte Scaligero

14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Verona

About halfway between Milan and Venice, Verona is one of Italy’s most popular cities for tourists, who enjoy its art, architecture, opera and literary fame. It lies in the broad S-curve of the Adige River as it emerges from the Alps. Verona’s Centro Storico, the historic center, where you will find most of the sights, is connected to the Left Bank neighborhoods by ten bridges. Because Verona is so often overshadowed by its glamorous neighbor, Venice, tourists often try to see it in one day, but there are so many things to do here that you’ll want to spend longer in this charming city.

Verona became a Roman colony in 89 BC and developed into an important city. There are several remains from this time, including the Roman amphitheatre, and the city is equally rich in Romanesque churches from the 11th and 12th centuries. Verona was an important artistic center in the Renaissance and earlier, under the powerful della Scala family. You will meet them everywhere, also called the Scaligeri. The leading architects of the 15th and 16th centuries were Fra Giocondo and Michele Sanmicheli, who were responsible for several beautiful buildings and the bastioned city walls.

Read also: top-notch day trips from Venice

1 Castelvecchio on Ponte Scaligero

Castelvecchio and Ponte Scaligero
 

On the banks of the Adige, Castelvecchio was built by the Scaligeri in 1354-55, an impressive defensive fortress that is sure to remind rivals of the power of the della Scala family. Crossing the river is the beautiful, walled Ponte Scaligero, a 14th-century bridge that is traffic-free and a favorite walk for local families. The castle’s main tower and ramparts offer views of the bridge, town and surrounding hills. The interior of the castle has been beautifully restored and transformed into a bright exhibition space by architect Carlo Scarpa, without sacrificing the castle’s integrity or history. The collections of the Civico Museo d’Arteare shown here, with Veronese sculpture, applied art and paintings, with works by Bellini, Rubens, Montagna, Guardi, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, Pisano and artists of the 15th and 16th century Veronese school. A few steps up Corso Cavour is the Arco dei Gavi , a first-century stone gate spanning a Roman road; note the grooves carried by wagon wheels in the stone under the arch.

Adres: Corso Castelvecchio 2 (off Corso Cavour), Verona

2 Arena di Verona (Roman amphitheater)

Arena di Verona (Roman amphitheater)
Arena di Verona (Roman amphitheater)
 

One of the largest of its kind and one of the best preserved Roman amphitheatres, the Arena of Verona was built in the reign of Diocletian, around 290 AD. Only four arches of the outer wall on the north side survive, but the vaulted seats are intact and in regular use. Its 44 seats can accommodate 22,000 spectators and in July and August it is home to the Verona Opera Festival , one of the most important summer events in Europe, ranked behind the Bayreuth and Salzburg festivals. The arena forms one side of the wide Piazza Brà, opposite the Palazzo Malfatti, created by Sammichele. Adjacent to the long building of the Gran Guardi, the old guardhouse from 1614, is the gate and tower of Portoni della Brà .

Address: Piazza Bra, Verona

Official site: https://www.arena.it/en-US/Homeen.html

3 Juliet’s House

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Giulietta’s home

Verona is perhaps best known as the international setting for Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. Inevitably, tourists asked where the star-crossed lovers lived, and Veronese kindly pointed out a small medieval palazzo near Piazza delle Erbeit had an attractive courtyard where tourists could stand without blocking the street. In the 1930s, the city added the missing ingredient and built a balcony overlooking the courtyard. Several decades later they added a bronze statue and set up displays in the house for tourists to look at on their way to be photographed on the balcony. Regardless, the story is fiction, the characters purely imaginative, and the plot not based on real events or people in Verona (where Shakespeare had never been), the city has still become a place of pilgrimage to the point where they have a team of secretaries to answer the mail for the mythical Juliet.

Address: Via Cappello 23, Verona

4 Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore

Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore
Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore
 

The grand 11th-century Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore is considered the most beautiful Romanesque building in northern Italy. The beautiful main front of alternating layers of brick and white tufa is flanked by a slender Romanesque campanile (1045-1178) and the 14th century towering defensive tower of a former Benedictine abbey. Although you enter the elegant Romanesque cloister through a side gate, be sure to see the bronze doors on the vestibule, with excellent Romanesque reliefs of Biblical and secular scenes. The interior has an unusual 14th-century wooden roof and beautiful Romanesque capitals. The side aisles contain frescoes from the 13th to the 15th century. In the chancel there is a marble figure, thought to be 14th century, of St. Zeno, the fourth century bishop of Verona. His reliquary is located in the crypt, which is quite unusual as it is equal in size and prominence to the choir above. The main altar is topped by a 15th century buildingMadonna with Saints by Mantegna.

Adres: Piazza San Zeno, Verona

5 Piazza delle Erbe

Piazza delle Erbe
Piazza delle Erbe
 

The central feature of Verona’s Centro Storico is the rectangular Piazza delle Erbe, one of Italy’s most picturesque squares. It stands on the site of the Roman forum and is now a fruit and vegetable market. In the center of the square is the 16th-century Berlina, a canopy on four pillars, previously used for elections. To the north of it is a fountain of 1368 with Madonna di Verona , an ancient marble statue reused in medieval times.

At the northern end of the square is a marble column bearing the Lion of St. Mark, the emblem of Verona’s former Venetian rulers. On the northeast corner stands the Casa Mazzanti , originally built by the Scaligeri. Like many houses here, it is decorated with Renaissance frescoes. On the north side of the square stands the baroque Palazzo Maffei from 1668, and to its left, the 1370 Torre del Gardello . The Casa dei Mercanti on the corner of Via Pellicciai was rebuilt in 1878 in its original 1301 form. Opposite, rises the 84 meter high Torre dei Lamberti, with a medieval bell, El Rengo. An elevator from the courtyard takes you to the top for one of the best bird’s-eye views of the old town. From the end at the lion of St. Mark, Corso Porta Borsari is interrupted by Porta dei Borsari , a Roman city gate built in the first century AD. and restored in 265. Across the street is the pedestrian Via Mancini, Verona’s most fashionable shopping street .

6 Piazza dei Signori en Loggia del Consiglio

Piazza dei Signori en Loggia del Consiglio
Piazza dei Signori en Loggia del Consiglio
 

Accessed through an arch from Piazza delle Erbe , Piazza dei Signori is surrounded by palaces, and in the center stands a monument to Dante built in 1865. The Palazzo della Ragione (Town Hall), on the south side of the square, was begun in 1193 but changed in later centuries. The main facade of the building is Renaissance, dating from 1524. In the courtyard are a Gothic grand staircase of 1446-50 and the entrance to the Torre dei Lamberti . Also in the square are a towered tower and the Palazzo dei Tribunali , converted in 1530-31 from a Scaliger palace and with a Renaissance gate by Michele Sanmicheli. On the east side of the square is the Palazzo del Governo, originally another Scaligeri palace and also with a Sanmicheli doorway.

On the north side of Piazza dei Signori stands the Loggia del Consiglio, one of the most beautiful early Renaissance buildings in Italy. It was built by Fra Giocondo from 1486 to 1493 and is crowned by statues of famous Verona residents. Recent excavations here have found a Roman street, mosaics and other remains below the current street level, which you can explore from an entrance next to the adjacent main courtyard.

7 Arche Scaliger (Scaliger Tombs)

Arche Scaligere (Scaligeri Tombs)
Arche Scaligere (Scaligeri Tombs)
 

The beautiful little church of Santa Maria Anticawas completed in the 12th century and became the family church of the princes of the della Scala, who ruled Verona in the 13th and 14th centuries. Their imposing Gothic tombs almost overshadow it, topped by their effigies in full armor. Look for their symbol: the ladder (scala) was the heraldic emblem of the family and appears regularly in the elaborate wrought iron balustrades. Above the church door are the sarcophagus and a copy of an equestrian statue by Cangrande della Scala, who died in 1329 (the original can be beautifully seen in Castelvecchio). On the left are the mural monument of Giovanni, who died in 1359, and the sarcophagus of Mastino I from 1277. Within the balustrades, under a canopy, are the sarcophagi and equestrian statues of Mastino II and Cansignorio,

Address: Via Arche Scaligere, Verona

8 Duomo di Santa Maria Matricolare (Cathedral)

Duomo di Santa Maria Matricolare (Cathedral)
Duomo di Santa Maria Matricolare (Cathedral)
 

The cathedral is a Romanesque basilica from the 12th century with a 15th-century Gothic nave. Adjacent to it is a campanile on a Romanesque base, designed by Sanmicheli, but not completed until 1927. On the beautiful main entrance of the cathedral are figures of the two paladins of Charlemagne, Roland and Oliver, done between 1139 and 1153. Inside , on the first altar on the left, is the main highlight of the church, Titian’s 1525 Assumption , and at the end of the south aisle is the Gothic tomb of St. Agatha, from 1353. Particularly striking are the red marble pillars and the marble chancel screen . To the left of the cathedral is a Romanesque monastery built in 1123, with an early Christian mosaic floor on the lower level.

Address: Piazza Duomo 21, Verona

9 Sant’Anastasia

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Sant’Anastasia

Sant’Anastasia, a Gothic church from the late 13th century, towers over a small square in the heart of Verona. Above its portal are scenes from the life of St. Peter carved in stone and above that a 15th-century fresco. Just inside, a pair of grotesques carved from marble hold holy water fonts, the left one by Gabriele Caliari, father of the artist Paolo Veronese. Don’t miss the fresco of St. George and the Princess by Pisanello.

Adres: Piazza Sant’Anastasia, Verona

10 Giusti Garden

Giusti Garden
Giusti Garden
 

Behind the 16th century Palazzo Giusti is the beautiful garden, Giardino Giusti, with paths between the formal parterres, statues from the past and a hedge labyrinth. Another path leads from the back, up the steep embankment to a less formal garden with a grotto and city views framed by beautiful old cypress trees. Although not the largest, it is ranked among the best Renaissance gardens in Italy. Especially in the summer heat, it is a peaceful refuge from the city.

Address: Via Giardino Giusti 2, Verona

11 Roman Theater in Ponte Pietra

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Roman Theater in Ponte Pietra

Over the Roman bridge of Ponte Pietra, on the hill below Castel San Pietro , the Roman theater was built in the first century during the reign of Augustus and excavated between 1904 and 1939. From the theater itself, you can see the remains of the tuffs walls and stones of the stage building in the floor well with holes where the ropes were drawn to open and close the curtains. More remains are visible of the auditorium, which was built into the hill in galleries and terraces, including the floor of the orchestra seats with geometrically inlaid marble. The theater is home to the summer Verona Jazz Festival. The Roman bridge, Ponte Pietra, was blown up during the Second World War, as were all of Verona’s bridges, but after the war the stones were taken from the river and carefully sorted and reassembled into the bridge that crosses here today.

Adres: Regaste Redentore 2, Verona

12 San Fermo Maggiore

San Fermo Maggiore
San Fermo Maggiore
 

The first San Fermo Maggiore was built in the eighth century in memory of Saints Fermo and Rustico, believed at that time to have been martyred in the arena. It was replaced by the current structure in the 11th century and the crypt is the only surviving part of the original. The current church retains its Romanesque part from the 11th century, with a Gothic part from the 13th-14th century. The facade is beautifully decorated with marble. The church houses a 14th-century wooden crucifix and Alessandro Turchi’s Adoration of the Shepherds. Look for the Pisanello frescoes above the Brenzoni monument and more frescoes around the ornate pulpit.

Address: Via San Fermo, Verona

13 Mantua (Mantua) day trip

Mantova (Mantua) day trip
Mantova (Mantua) day trip
 

Fifty kilometers south of Verona, the provincial capital of Mantua was the residence of the Gonzaga family from 1328 to 1707, and they made Mantua one of the most refined and cultivated princely capitals, a great center of art and learning. Their opulent residence, the enormous Palazzo Ducale , dominates the city and remains one of Italy’s most beautiful palaces. Today it houses several important collections, including paintings, Greek and Roman sculpture, medieval and Renaissance sculpture, and tapestries made from Raphael’s cartoons. These are displayed in opulent rooms with frescoes, ceiling paintings and richly carved ceilings. Also in the center of Mantua, the Church of Sant’Andreais a masterpiece of early Renaissance architecture built by Leon Battista Alberti in 1472-94, with a transept and choir dating from 1600. Mantova’s third major attraction is the single-story Palazzo del Te, built for the Gonzagas between 1525 and 1535 by Giulio Romano. It is decorated with beautiful frescoes and stuccowork.

14 Sirmione in Rocca Scaligera

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Sirmione in Rocca Scaligera

At the tip of a long promontory jutting into the southern end of Lake Garda , about 40 minutes from Verona, Sirmione could be a stage set. You enter the town via a drawbridge, at the foot of a beautiful castle, Rocca Scaligera, built in the 12th century by Verona’s ruling Scaligeri family. After exploring the castle’s restored rooms, climb to the tower for views over the lake and city. Stroll through Sirmione’s main street with its chic shops and walk or take the tourist trolley to the end of the peninsula. Here the Roman poet Catullus, who lived from 84 to 54 BC, built a villa to take advantage of the sulfur springs, now used by a luxury spa. The remains of his villa,Grotte di Catullo and the complex surrounding it are extensive and worth exploring both for their history and for the beautiful views of the lake.

Where to Stay in Verona for Sightseeing

With a few exceptions, Verona’s main attractions are located along the hairpin bend in the Adige River, where the Romans built their city. Castelvecchio, the Roman Arena, Juliet’s House, Piazza delle Erbe, the Cathedral and several art-filled churches can all be found in this Centro Storico. Fortunately for tourists, so do several hotels, and others are a few minutes away. Here are some highly rated hotels in Verona:

  • Luxury Hotels : Set in a well-preserved palazzo, the Due Torri Hotel shares a small piazza with Sant’Anastasia, one of Verona’s top attractions. Plentiful complimentary breakfast, a rooftop restaurant, and exceptional concierge service set this historic property apart. The Academia Hotel is located in the old town near Piazza delle Erbe, a five-minute walk from the Arena. It serves an excellent complimentary breakfast. Overlooking Via Mazzini, Escalus Luxury Suites Verona serves made-to-order breakfasts delivered straight to the stylish rooms.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: The Giulietta e Romeo Hotel is located on a quiet side street just off Piazza Bra next to the Arena. Some rooms have a balcony. The Best Western Hotel Firenze is located on the main street that connects the train station (and airport bus stop) with the Centro Storico, a 10-minute walk from the Arena and on a direct bus line. In addition to the rain showers and free continental breakfast, Hotel Milano has a rooftop terrace with a small pool and café overlooking the Arena; on opera and concert evenings you can hear the music swirling around.
  • Budget Hotels: Best Western Hotel Armando is located on a quiet street between the Roman Arena and the river. It offers free on-street parking and free breakfast and Wi-Fi. Hotel Trieste, five minutes from the Arena on the main street between the train station and the old town, has brightly decorated rooms, free breakfast, underground parking and free bicycles. Located just off Piazza Bra, between the Arena and Castelvecchio, Hotel Torcolo offers simple but well-equipped rooms, very helpful staff and parking spaces.

More attractions near Verona

Verona is in the heart of some of northern Italy’s most popular attractions, a stop on the main train route between Milan and Venice, each less than 90 minutes away. Closer to Verona and also on the train route to Venice are the elegant Palladian villas of Vicenza and Renaissance Padua with its sanctuary of St Anthony and the beautiful Scrovegni Chapel with frescoes by Giotto. The many well-preserved Roman remains of Brescia and romantic, medieval Bergamo, perched high on a hilltop, lie west of Verona. Just half an hour’s drive away is Lake Garda, surrounded by beautiful towns and full of leisure options and family attractions.

Read also:

top-notch day trips from Milan

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