City guide: Verona, Italy | Private jet charter
Located on the river Adige, near Lake Garda in the Veneto region, this compelling city inspired Shakespeare to write Romeo and Juliet – and visitors in their thousands visit Juliet’s alleged balcony in the old town. Verona’s impressive Roman amphitheatre holds outdoor opera performances all summer, and the city is well placed between Milan and Venice for easy day trips to both.
Top five must-see sights and attractions
Piazza delle Erbe
The Piazza delle Erbe is one of Verona’s main squares and is an ideal introduction to the city. Cafes, restaurants and shops are interspersed between the elegant buildings, such as the Baroque Palazzo Maffei at the northern end of the square – replete with statues of Greek gods; the impressive town hall with its 84m-high Torre dei Lamberti tower, the Mazzanti houses with their frescoed walls and a beautiful fountain with a statue of Madonna Verona.
Walk to the south-east side for the Arco della Costa arch that divides the Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza dei Signori, and you’ll see the rib of a whale suspended from a hook. Local superstition says that the rib will fall on the first honest person to walk under it. So far it remains very much in place.
Constructed during the 1st century, this stunning Roman architectural masterpiece is located in the Piazza della Bra. One of the finest preserved amphitheatres in the world – it once held up to 30,000 spectators – the Arena di Verona is home to the world-famous Arena Opera Festival held between June and September each year.
The festival attracts the world’s best singing and musical talent with seats sold out months in advance. This summer’s operas include Carmen, Aida and La Traviata. Take a tour and then head to the south-east of the Piazza where you’ll find the Palazzo Barbieri and the Palazza della Gran Guardia.
Juliet’s Balcony – Casa di Giulietta
Just a two-minute walk from the Torre dei Lamberti tower on Via Capello is arguably Verona’s most famous tourist attraction. Shakespeare allegedly took inspiration from this humble balcony and made it the home of Juliet – his most famous heroine. Whether this is just an urban myth or Romeo’s Juliet really did live in this house doesn’t deter the thousands of visitors who come in search of the star-crossed lover.
Once on Via Capello follow the small wall-enclosed passageway – covered with love notes – that leads to the courtyard and the balcony perched on the side of this 14th century building. The balcony forms part of the Casa di Giulietta museum and you can also visit the house of the Montecchi (Montague) and Capuleti (Capulet) families.
Castel San Pietro Funicular
Via Santo Stefano is the starting point for the Castel San Pietro Funicular which takes visitors to the top of Colle San Pietro in just over a minute. Stunning views over the city of Verona are here, including the river Adige flowing under the historic heart of the city.
Stop for lunch at the Funicolare bar and sample some of the fine wines of the region including Bardolino Superiore and Valpolicella Ripasso alongside a salad or sandwich. The Colle San Pietro is a superb introduction to many of the walks above Verona, including the abandoned hillside fort of Castel St Pietro with its tree-lined avenues.
Giardino Giusti Gardens
Located slightly outside of Verona on a hill at Via Giardino Giusti lie the beautiful Giardino Giusti Gardens. Laid out in the 1400s in a classic Renaissance style, the gardens are the inspiration and work of the Giusti family, combining the ideals of geometry and beauty. Imagine symmetrical hedges, Greek statues, a maze, flowerbeds, walkways and even Goethe’s beloved cypress tree (both he and Mozart were regular visitors) and you have a delightfully peaceful tourist attraction far from the madding crowds of central Verona.
Verona’s historic centre is a limited traffic zone so best explored on foot or by with Verona’s bike-sharing service. Taxis can be hailed at the designated ranks around the city, including the main railway station and Piazza Bra. The open-air double decker tourist bus is a fun – and effortless – way to see Verona.
Best time to visit
Spring and early autumn are the best times to visit Verona when crowds are somewhat fewer in number and the weather is usually sunny and warm but not overbearingly hot. However if you love the heat, head to this northern Italian hotspot during the summer between June and August when the Verona Opera season is in full swing at the Arena di Verona. In later autumn and through winter Verona receives its fair share of rain and can get foggy.
One of the most romantic of the Italian lake cities, Verona is ideally placed in northern Italy and offers visitors ancient ruins, a world-renowned opera festival, luxury accommodation and a superb gastronomic scene, as well as a vibrant cultural life. Oenophiles will especially appreciate Verona’s neighbouring wine country – home to many Valpolicella and Soave wineries.
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