The cosmopolitan city of Verona is a veritable treasure trove of historical, architectural and cultural delights and, justifiably, is one of northern Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is a city which holds a year-round appeal, yet which undisputedly comes to life during the summer months when visitors arrive en masse to enjoy a performance or two of the renowned annual operatic festival held in the imposing, pink-tinged arena, one of Italy’s best-preserved amphitheatres and counted today amongst the most prestigious archaeological monuments in Europe. Indeed, Verona dates back to Roman times and the city still boasts to this day a wealth of Roman and Mediaeval buildings.
As synonymous with opera as it is the fabled tale of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, any visit to Verona must surely include the houses of the Montague and Capulet families. Romeo’s home is a 14th-century Gothic building however it’s Juliet’s balcony at the Casa di Giulietta which steals the show as the main attraction, under which star-crossed lovers leave handwritten notes on the wall of the building and rub the right breast of her bronze statue for good luck! Reputedly the scene for the ill-fated marriage between Romeo and Juliet meanwhile, the Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore is considered one of the greatest achievements in Romanesque architecture, with some 50 bronze panels lining its magnificent 12th-century doors. The 12th-century Romanesque Duomo is also worth a visit, not only for its striking striped façade but also for its extravagant interior.
Other must-sees on your sightseeing checklist should include the adjoining squares Piazza dei Signori, lined with elegant palazzi and site of Dante’s statue; and Piazza delle Erbe, once the Roman Forum, core of Mediaeval Verona and today remaining at the heart of the city with its colourful market, bars and cafés where you can relax awhile over an espresso. For additional peace and tranquillity and stunning views over the city, visit the Giardino Giusti, a beautifully-sculpted garden overlooked by soaring cypress trees, reputedly immortalised by the German poet, Goethe, in one of his writings.
Further afield, why not make the short journey to Lake Garda and the delightful towns and gardens that sit lakeside, or visit the wine-making towns of Soave, Valpolicella and Bardolino? Or consider even a day trip to Padua, Vicenza, Mantua or vibrant Venice, all just an hour away by train or car.