Exploring Verona, a city made for lovers

Adam Jones | 17/06/2019
Juliet's Balcony
Romeo & Juliet's setting paid homage to the work with Juliet's balcony at the eponymous house.

“In fair Verona” are three famous words that provide the setting of one of the most famous love stories of all time — Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Whether you’re visiting with you sweetie, or exploring the city on your own, get ready for a delightful cocktail of art, history, architecture and natural beauty. 

What to do in Verona

Verona has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000. So naturally you’re in for some remarkable art, history and architecture. 

The city was conquered by the Romans back in the First Century AD, and many of those ruins still stand today. If you weren’t able to make Rome this trip, or were thwarted by the long lineups at the Coliseum, the Verona Arena is enormous — the third largest in the world.

One of the best known year-round attractions year-round is Juliet’s house in Verona. While not, in fact, a place that inspired the actual play, it was once home to the Cappello family and dates back to the 13th century. Much like the play, the home is a symbolic blend of fact and fiction. The Juliet balcony wasn’t added until the 20th century, but it still serves as a stirring symbolic reminder of the power of love.

Verona’s Teatro Filarmonico is one of Europe’s finest opera houses. Originally built in 1716, it was lovingly restored following fires and Allied bombing during World War II. The Teatro Filarmonico is still a working theater. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to catch one of its opera, ballet, or concert series.

Beyond Verona’s cultural history, take time to explore it’s military past. Explore  the Castelvecchio, a 14th-century red brick castle. Visit its city museum, or wander the grounds to admire the fortifications and a stunning view from the Castelvecchio bridge.

Verona in Love festival

Every year, during the week before Valentine’s Day, the city comes alive in a celebration of love complete with delicious food, magic, entertainment, and many romantic themed adventures. With the ancient city around you, loved one at your side, beautiful song, and lights twinkling all around, what could be more romantic than Valentine’s Day in Italy? 

The festival bills itself as not only for couples, but for anyone “in love with love itself.” You can also enjoy the romance as a single traveller and maybe even run into someone for the ultimate meetup. Stroll through the old town as decorations and illuminations light up its streets and medieval architecture.

Valentine’s Day in Verona wouldn’t be complete without further romantic activities. Climb to the top of the Lamberti Tower, which is illuminated in red during the festival. Or sign up for “Tours in Love”: a series of love-themed guided walks that will introduce you to some of the city’s most famous sites and compelling tales. 

Perhaps you’d like to be a more active participant in your love story? Try the Romeo and Juliet themed game tour, certainly one of the most unique things to do in Verona Italy. An expert tour guide will lead you and your partner through Verona’s poetic alleyways where you’ll discover secrets and solve mysteries that surround the Shakespearean lovers. You’ll work your way through history to rewrite the tragic end of this long-told love story.

If neither walking nor intrigue aren’t your thing, maybe go on the run with your partner young-love style. Experience a bit of adrenaline, commitment, and fatigue with the Romeo and Juliet Half Marathon, which brings you through some of the city’s most famous spots before you cross the finish line at the Piazza Bra.

Getting into nature

If you’d like a break from all that architecture, Verona has great options for those who enjoy the outdoors. Start off lightly with a trip to the Giardino Giusti. Planted in 1580, it is considered one of the finest examples of an Italian Renaissance garden. There’s a hedge maze, hidden grottos, sculpture, and even angry stone faces originally designed to breathe fire.

Maybe you’d like something a bit more adventurous? What about whitewater rafting through a medieval city? Though not the wildest river, you will pass through some rapids and get an unusual river’s eye view of Verona. Enjoy the panoramic views and river thrills as you get up close and personal with the Adige River.

If you’d like to get even further out, Verona is a great staging ground for some excellent day trips.

Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy, with a decidedly Italian resort-like feel. Buses from Verona run frequently; or you can rent a car for a private tour of the area. Stop by a local restaurant for lunch and a glass of Lugana wine while enjoying spectacular views of the lakeside and surrounding mountains.

If seeing mountains from below isn’t enough, get to the top. Verona can be a gateway for a day trip to the UNESCO Heritage Dolomite mountain range. Ride a funicular to the 10,000 foot summit to take in the spectacular natural vistas all around you — including views of the white stone mountains Marmolada and Sassolungo.

Once you get back to Verona, wander the streets at night, look at the way the lights hit the river Adige, have a glass of the city’s local Rossa di Verona beer, and imagine those first few moments of looking at someone, and falling in love.