Verona is a city of history, opera, and love which needs to be on the bucket list of every traveller seeking to experience the beauty of Italy in the most authentic way.
Located in the northeast of the country, Verona is a great day trip from Venice, Milan, and Lago di Garda – Italy’s largest lake.
There are many things to do and see in Verona, Italy in a day. It is a multilayered city with Roman roots, medieval buildings, frescoed houses, churches full of priceless works of art, and a very lively historic centre where people get together in the evenings to socialise over a glass of aperitivo or two.
Add to this Verona’s two major magnets, too:
- the worldwide famous Verona Opera Festival; and
- the story of Romeo and Juliet.
Music and love – two of the main things which make Verona such an irresistible place to discover for yourself.
So, if you are planning to visit Verona, Italy for a day, here are the 20 best things to do and see in this Northern Italian city from dawn till dusk.
These 20 points of interest include both Verona’s major sights and several hidden gems. They are listed not according to their importance but in a logical sequence in terms of distance from one another and convenient order of visit.
This way, if you visit them all one after the other exactly as they are numbered below, you will complete a full circle encompassing Verona’s historical centre, River Adige and the Veronetta neighbourhood. This full circle will help you see and explore Verona’s many faces – from its Roman ruins, medieval structures and frescoed houses to its devotional traditions and modern-day shopping streets and fun sights.
If you are a quick sightseer and an avid walker, you can cover it all in one long day. Otherwise, you can pick and choose from the long list below and tailor your day just as you like it.
In any case, further below, I have provided three sample itineraries, namely:
- In-depth Verona;
- Verona’s Highlights’ and
- Verona’s Top Five,
thus giving you a chance to discover Verona, Italy in the best possible way for you.
No matter which itinerary you will choose, make sure that you wear your most comfortable shoes. Verona is a very walkable city and with the main sights within close proximity of one another, exploring them will keep you on your feet for most (if not all) of the day.
At the end of this blog post, I have also included a helpful section with useful tips about Verona, Italy. From how to get to Verona to what are the best events to attend there, lots of first-hand tried and tested information is provided.
I, personally, love Verona. I find it a very exciting place to be. It’s a city full of verve. A millennial place that feels very young at heart. It’s a city of beauty with tall frescoed houses, graceful bridges, and lively events. A pleasure to explore!
So, without further ado, let’s head to fair Verona and see what you can get up to there in one long and very exciting day!
20 Best Things to Do and See in Verona, Italy in One Day
1. Portoni della Bra
Portoni della Bra is an elegant double archway with a crenellated top and a blue 19th-century clock studded in its central part.
The archway is the entry point to the historic part of the city of Verona, Italy. It’s an 18-minute walk or a 7-minute bus ride from the city’s main train station – Verona Porta Nuova. If you have arrived by car, near Portoni della Bra you will find many conveniently located and modern car parks.
As soon as you reach Portoni della Bra, you know that you are in for a day of wonderful discoveries and views. You cannot help it but have a little moment of ‘Wow!’ when you glimpse the twin arches. They beautifully frame the colourful houses that line Piazza Bra (see point 2 below). Plus, the Roman Arena di Verona (see point 3 below) is just a minute down the road.
A gate existed at this place in Verona as early as the 13th century. The current structure of the Portoni della Bra is built of red Verona marble while the crenellations on top are made of red bricks. The archway as we see it nowadays was erected in the 16th century during the Venetian rule of Verona. The pentagonal tower attached to its side dates back to the Middle Ages when Verona functioned as a free comune.
2. Piazza Bra
Lined with colourful houses, bustling restaurants, and imposing buildings, Piazza Bra is the largest square in Verona and one of the largest in Italy, too. It encompasses the imposing Arena di Verona (see point 3 below) – the Roman amphitheatre which is older than Rome’s Coliseum and where the world-famous Verona Opera Festival takes place every summer.
Piazza Bra is a great spot to simply stop, take in Verona’s atmosphere and snap lots of photos of the wonderful architecture all around you.
In the middle of Piazza Bra, there is a small green garden with a fountain surrounded by cedar and pine trees. In summer, when it gets really hot, lots of tourists seek refuge from the sun in this little green oasis. Known as the Fountain of the Alps, the garden’s water feature was given to the city of Verona in 1975 by the German city of Munich. The occasion was the twinning of both cities.
Apart from Arena di Verona, there are two other large buildings of interest on Piazza Bra in Verona, Italy:
- Palazzo della Gran Guardia (also known simply as Gran Guardia) – this is the imposing building right opposite the Arena. Built between the 17th and the 19th centuries, nowadays the palazzo hosts many important cultural events and art exhibitions.
- Palazzo Barbieri – a yellow building with a neoclassical facade that nowadays serves as Verona’s Town Hall. It was built in the first half of the 19th century.
3. Arena di Verona
A beautifully preserved Roman amphitheatre which grabs the eye with its symmetry. If you have just an hour to spend in Verona, then make this hour count by dedicating it to Arena di Verona.
If you have a whole day in the city of opera and love, then, again, make Arena di Verona the highlight of your exploration of Verona. You will marvel how people could erect almost two millennia ago such an enormous and yet so elegant and airy structure without any modern-day technology.
Built in the 1st century AD (it pre-dates Rome’s Coliseum by about 50 years), Arena di Verona was used for gladiator games and could accommodate up to 30,000 people. An ingenious system was used to divert water from the nearby river Adige in order to flood the lower part of the amphitheatre and stage naval battles there. This type of entertainment and the buildings in which it could be held were known collectively as naumachia in Ancient Rome.
A devastating earthquake in 1117 destroyed almost entirely the outer ring of Arena di Verona. Only a small portion of it remained upright and it survives to this day. It’s curious to note that a medieval legend tried to explain the ‘unfinished’ shape of the Roman amphitheatre.
According to the legend, a man from Verona made a pact with the Devil. The Devil was to build in one night a huge theatre able to fit all the city’s inhabitants in exchange for the man’s soul. All the demons of hell worked all night erecting the amphitheatre.
In the meantime, the man regretted bitterly the pact and prayed to the Virgin Mary for salvation. Miraculously, the dawn broke an hour early that day and the demons – who had just started on the outer ring of the Arena – had to return to hell. Thus the Devil couldn’t complete his part of the deal. The man’s soul was saved and Verona got its amphitheatre, albeit ‘unfinished’.
Nowadays, Arena di Verona is one of the main tourist attractions in Northern Italy. It is also regularly used as a concert and opera venue. The worldwide famous Verona Opera Festival is staged in the Arena every summer. Concerts by the biggest names in music take place there, too. Attending a concert or an opera in Arena di Verona is an unforgettable experience.
If you can’t make it to an event there, then, get yourself a ticket to see the Arena from the inside. There is something magical sitting on its stone steps and admiring the stunning views of Verona from the Arena’s top tiers.
4. Via Mazzini
A beautiful street flanked by tall colourful residential buildings with wrought-iron balconies and arched windows. Via Mazzini connects two of Verona’s most important squares – Piazza Bra (see point 2 above) and Piazza delle Erbe (see point 5) below.
Nowadays, the street is lined with shops of the most famous fashion, jewellery, and cosmetics brands – from Dolce&Gabbana to Swarovski. In the past, the first portion of the street used to be a Roman decumanus – an east-west oriented road in Ancient Rome. The second portion of the street was created with the demolition in the 14th century of several palaces.
Walking down Via Mazzini can be quite the experience. The tall buildings on both sides create a sort of tunnel around you. In summer and in the run-up to Christmas, crowds of tourists and shoppers fill up every available space. Elegantly dressed citizens of Verona walk around with their tiny dogs. The sea of people quickly closes around you and drags you forward. To take a little breather from the crowd, don’t hesitate to step into a quiet side street for a moment or two.
5. Piazza delle Erbe
Piazza delle Erbe – Verona’s charming central public space – is the city’s most ancient square. It stands right where Verona’s Roman Forum once stood. The piazza is surrounded by beautiful historical buildings and serves as the stage of a daily market selling souvenirs, clothes, and knick-knacks.
A lively market has been held at Piazza delle Erbe since Roman times. During the Middle Ages, spices (in Italian erbe) were some of the most sought-after goods and soon the square became known as Piazza delle Erbe in recognition of the large number of spice merchants selling their wares on it.
Piazza delle Erbe is a lively place where many of Verona’s main streets converge and where the flow of people is constant from dawn till dusk. Up and down the square you will find many bars and restaurants. Grab a gelato during the day or an aperitivo in the early evening and indulge in a spot of people-watching.
Otherwise, here are some of the most important sights to see and photograph at and around Piazza delle Erbe in Verona:
- Palazzo Maffei – a baroque palace with lavishly ornamented facade. Look up to see the statues of the Ancient Greek gods which adorn its rooftop.
- St. Mark’s Lion – a sculpture symbolising the Republic of Venice which ruled Verona from 1405 to 1796. It stands atop a pillar made of white marble right in front of Palazzo Maffei.
- Mazzanti Houses – a long set of houses with commercial premises on the ground floor and residential apartments above. Their facades are covered with beautiful Renaissance frescoes depicting mythological and allegorical scenes. It was due to the large number of frescoed buildings in Verona that the city was known as Urbs Picta (the Painted City) in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
- Madona Verona – a 14th-century fountain crowned by a Roman statue with Gothic inclusions. It was placed there by Verona’s medieval rulers – the ruthless and powerful Scaliger Family. The fountain was built in celebration of the Scaliger’s hydraulic and engineering successes as they had built a system bringing water from the river Adige to Piazza delle Erbe.
- Arco della Costa – an archway with a long whalebone (some believe that it is, actually, a bone from an ichthyosaurus) suspended right beneath it since at least the 18th century. No-one knows for sure why. There are many hypotheses though. One is that the bone was brought back by a crusader, another states that an old pharmacy used it as a form of advertisement. And a third one insists that the bone is a fossil found in the hills surrounding Verona. Take your pick!
6. Torre dei Lamberti
Walk beneath the mysterious Arco della Costa (see the last bullet point under point 5 above) and just a few steps further down the passageway, you will find the entrance to another of Verona’s main sights.
Torre dei Lamberti is a 84 metres tall tower the construction of which was ordered by the noble Lamberti family back in the distant year of 1172.
Buy a ticket and scale the tower’s 368 steps or – better – take the fast and convenient lift and soon you will be enjoying stunning views over Verona. The city’s red-roofed historical centre, the many mighty churches, the elegant palazzi, the glistening curve of the River Adige, the green hills on the other side of it – a gorgeous panorama will open right in front of your eyes.
It’s not in vain that the Lamberti Tower is known as Verona’s highest living room!
It’s curious to note that originally the tower was 37 metres high. When Verona’s Palazzo della Comune (also known as Palazzo della Ragione) was built in the 12th century, the tower became an integral part of it.
Between 1448 and 1463, the Lamberti Tower was elevated to its current height of 84 m. At the same time, the octagonal belfry of red bricks and white marble was also built on top of it.
The tower has four bells:
- Rengo – the largest bell was rung to call the City Council and to summon the army in case of attack;
- Marangona – the smallest bell rung the hours of the day thus serving as sorts of a public clock. It was also used to alert the citizens of Verona in case of fire.
- Bell of the Hours and Rabbiosa – the last two bells were added towards the end of the 18th century. At the same time, a large clock was also installed on the tower’s facade.
7. Piazza dei Signori
Once you are back on earth after your visit to the Lamberti Tower (see point 6 above), turn right and you will find yourself at Verona’s splendid Piazza dei Signori.
The square is surrounded by important buildings which – through the centuries – have played a vital role in the governance of Verona. In the middle of it all stands a statue depicting a pensive Dante. In the 14th century, the most renowned Italian poet of all times spent several years in Verona after his exile from Florence.
Nowadays, Piazza dei Signori hosts many lively events. From a large Christmas market in winter to a wine festival in autumn, make sure that you stop there during your visit to Verona to see what’s on.
Otherwise, here are some of the most important buildings at and around Piazza dei Signori in Verona:
- Palazzo della Comune (also known as Palazzo della Ragione) – an imposing 12th-century building with a long and richly decorated facade. It was erected to host the city’s administration, the salt reserves, and the grains market (the latter was held in the internal courtyard) among several other things. Towards the end of the 15th century, the palace was repurposed to a tribunal. Try to spot the so-called lion mouths (bocche di leone in Italian) – small openings in the facade where the citizens of Verona could post anonymous complaints and information about people breaking the laws like selling silk while evading the Venetian monopoly on the trade.
- Loggia del Consiglio – a very beautiful Renaissance building. Built towards the end of the 15th century, it housed the city’s council. The rich ornamentation of the building evokes Verona’s important Roman past.
- Palazzi Scaligeri – a brick palace erected to accommodate the medieval rulers of Verona – the Scaliger Family. They were not of noble origins. Instead, they were part of the merchant guild in town and originally occupied the Mazzanti Houses on Piazza delle Erbe (see point 5 above). Once in power, the Scaliger built themselves a palace to enhance their newly acquired political standing.
- Arche Scaligeri and Church of Santa Maria Antica – just a step away from the Palazzi Scaligeri, you will find the Church of Santa Maria Antica. This tiny 12th-century church used to be the private chapel of Verona’s Scaliger rulers. Their tombs – the so-called Arche Scaligeri – are in the church’s courtyard. Considered to be the peak of Gothic art and architecture in Verona, the monumental tombs command respect and awe.
8. Juliet’s House
Are you romantic at heart?! Or are you a bit cynical?!
Either way, it’s time to head to Verona’s probably most famous and certainly most abused by tourists sight – Juliet’s House.
You will find it on Via Cappello in the city – a stone’s throw away from Via Mazzini (see point 4 above) and Piazza delle Erbe (see point 5 above). In any case, you will recognise that you are in the immediate vicinity of Juliet’s House by the proliferation of cheap souvenir shops…
and the hundreds of old gobs of chewing gum attached to the street’s and the house’s historic walls as improvised holders of pieces of paper with love notes on them.
Juliet’s House in Verona, Italy is one of the symbols of what overtourism can do to a popular city or sight. When I first visited it in 2007, I remember it as a very atmospheric place. Yes, there were crowds in the courtyard and everyone wanted their photo taken while touching the right breast of Juliet’s statue there. It supposedly brings good luck in love and, yes, I did meet my husband six months after touching Juliet’s breast, too.
Yet, it was a peaceful, clean place with love notes being stuck only to the walls of the small tunnel which leads from the street into the courtyard. Visitors were respectful and people were patiently waiting for their turn to have their photo taken. All in all, visiting Juliet’s House was a very nice experience for me back in 2007.
Nowadays, souvenir shops surround Juliet’s House to the point where all you see when you approach it are red lockets, keychains with hearts and fridge magnets shaped as Juliet’s breast. Tourists keep sticking gobs of gum to the walls in order to attach a love note. And, on St. Valentine’s Day, the famous balcony is where a proposal is made every five minutes or so.
And now it’s time for some tough love: You know that this is not the real Juliet’s House, don’t you?!
In case you didn’t, I am sorry but I have to break it to you that Juliet as such never existed. She was a literary heroine who – together with her beloved Romeo – was created by the literary imagination of one Luigi da Porto. No, I didn’t make a mistake. I didn’t mean to type Shakespeare here.
Luigi da Porto was a nobleman from Vicenza – a city near Verona. He found inspiration in a local legend and two castles to write a novel at the start of the 16th century about the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet. His novel was so successful that it was translated into English. William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet was written at the end of the 16th century after at least two other English writers had retold the original Italian story.
Yet, even though this is not where Juliet lived and even though the balcony as you see it today was fashioned out of an ancient sarcophagus (after tourists kept asking where the balcony was), I urge you to visit Juliet’s House even if you are in Verona for a day.
The house as such dates back to the 14th century and once belonged to Verona’s Dal Cappello family, who, many speculate, served as an inspiration for the Capulets in the play. Even though the house nowadays is sparsely furnished inside, a visit to it gives you a chance to see for yourself how families lived in Verona centuries ago and how their houses were organised. It is a fortified tower-shaped house with many floors from which a great view of the courtyard below is revealed.
9. Porta Leoni and Open-Air Archaeological Site on Via Leoni
You can see the remains of Porta Leoni – a gate in the defensive walls surrounding Roman Verona – on Via Leoni in the city. It’s just a few steps away from Juliet’s House (see point 8 above).
The gate was built in the 1 st century BC and then restructured in the 1st century AD. Strolling down Via Leoni in the heart of Verona’s historic centre, you will come across a tall portion of the interior facade of the gate which has been incorporated in the wall of a large residential building.
Then, in the middle of the street itself, you will see an open-air archaeological site with further remains of the Roman Porta Leoni and the defensive wall beneath the level of the street.
Stop for a minute or two and let your imagination take you back centuries ago when Verona was a prosperous Roman municipium. At the time, Porta Leoni was one of the two main gates leading into the city (the other was Porta Borsari, see point 18 below).
A large number of people, animals and heavy loads would enter Verona through Porta Leoni each day. The gate was about 13 metres tall and had a rectangular 17 metres long shape. It looked like a small fort and it had an inner courtyard where people would be stopped and checked before being allowed in the city.
We don’t know what the Romans used to call this gate. Its current name – Porta Leoni (Lionsgate) – has been in use since the 15th century. There are two versions as to how it came to be:
- the official version states that the gate’s name was inspired by the two sculpted lions used to adorn the top part of a Roman funeral monument which was positioned nearby;
- a local legend claims that an underground tunnel led from Porta Leoni all the way to Arena di Verona (see point 3 above) and it was used to bring large animals like lions on the Arena’s stage for the merciless gladiator fights.
10. River Adige and Ponte Nuovo
Adige is Italy’s second-longest river. It rises in the Alps and it flows into the Adriatic Sea passing through Verona on its journey of 410 km.
The river has faithfully served Verona all through the city’s existence providing protection in Roman times, source of water in the Middle Ages and stunning views in our modern, image-obsessed world. Verona’s historical centre is tightly hugged by Adige’s wide curve.
On the left river bank and opposite the historic centre stands Veronetta – a vibrant neighbourhood with Roman relics, medieval churches, a Renaissance garden, and a fun funicular.
Cross Ponte Nuovo (New Bridge) over the river Adige and explore Veronetta for a couple of hours or so. The sights under points 11, 12, 13, and 14 below are all located in Veronetta.
A bridge has been standing at Ponte Nuovo’s spot since the end of the 12th century. It’s curious to note that even at that time it had the same name. Well, compared to the Roman Ponte Pietra (see point 15 below), for example, this bridge was certainly new even as far back as the Middle Ages.
Ponte Nuovo was rebuilt several times through the centuries. After the retreating German army blew it up on 25th April 1945, the bridge was quickly erected again and nowadays serves as an important connection between Verona’s different parts.
Ponte Nuovo is 97 metres long and 15 metres wide. It affords you beautiful views over the river Adige, Ponte Pietra, Veronetta, and the green hills which surround Verona.
11. Giardino Giusti
This Renaissance garden is a tranquil place that fills the soul with beauty and dreams. First planted in the 15th century, the Giusti Garden is a place of contrasts:
- It has a flat part which has been styled in the best Italian gardening traditions. Tall cypress trees line the alleys and inspired Goethe himself when the German writer and statesman visited the Giusti Garden in 1786.
- Then, suddenly, the garden rises sharply up a steep hill all the way to Verona’s medieval defensive walls. Whimsical details like a grotto and a top-level balcony adorned with a grotesque mask (originally designed to billow smoke from its mouth) add to the unexpected character of the place.
Sit on a bench among the perfectly trimmed and geometrically shaped ivy bushes and have a lovely moment of relaxation while looking at the turtles and the koi carp in the two fountains.
Then walk up the hill and enjoy the views of Verona from several viewpoints at different heights.
Finish your visit by losing yourself in the Giusti Garden’s lush maze.
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12. Roman Theatre
In addition to the splendid Roman Arena di Verona (see point 3 above), Verona has its own Roman theatre, too. It was built in the 1st century BC. Large-scale excavations starting back in 1830 have helped bring to the surface large parts of the theatre.
Nowadays, you can see the seating sections, the steps leading to them, a portion of the original stage, and some arcades of the loggias that once stood there. In summer, theatre performances are regularly staged at Verona’s Roman Theatre. During the day, the theatre is open to visitors. In fact, Verona’s Archaeological Museum (see point 13 below) is right behind it so you can visit them both at the same time.
13. Archaeological Museum
There are many Roman buildings, ruins, and vestiges around Verona but a visit to the city’s excellent Archaeological Museum will put its Roman past in context and will give you lots of information to dwell on.
You will find Verona’s Archaeological Museum right behind the city’s Roman Theatre (see point 12 above). Its collection is housed in the 14th-century building of a former monastery. Many artifacts are also arranged on the terraces surrounding the main building.
Sacred inscriptions, statues, mosaics… They all tell the story of Roman Verona and have been collected from the ruins of the Roman temples, villas, and dwellings that once stood in and around the city.
14. Funicular of Castel San Pietro
Riding Verona’s Funicular of Castel San Pietro is a lot of fun.
In about a minute and a half, its glass cabin takes you vertically 55 metres up on a track that is 159 metres long with an incline of 37%. As you are going up, spellbinding views of Verona open up in front of your eyes. At the top of the hill, stands the panoramic terrace of Castel San Pietro where you can spend some time just taking the panorama in.
The funicular was designed in 1939 and it was originally used to help the students of the Fine Arts Academy housed in Castel San Pietro reach their classes easily without having to go up and down the steep hill. Due to the hardships of the Second World War, the funicular ceased to operate in 1944. It was only in June 2017 that the funicular started working again.
A return ticket for the Funicular of Castel San Pietro at present costs only 2 euros. If you prefer, you can go up riding the funicular and then you can walk down the hill taking the gorgeous views from many different angles at each step.
The San Pietro Hill which the funicular helps you scale has an interesting history in its own right. Between the 6th and the 5th centuries BC, it was the first inhabited spot in what nowadays is Verona.
Later, the hill and the surrounding area – which nowadays is known as the neighbourhood of Veronetta – became the hotspot of Roman Verona. The imposing Roman Theatre (see point 12 above) and other important Roman buildings including a defensive fort and a temple dedicated to Jupiter (later demolished) were erected there in the 1st century BC.
In the 19th century when Verona was occupied by the Austrian army, their San Pietro Barracks were built on top of the hill. This completed a long line of rulers to erect a fortress on that spot starting with the medieval King of the Ostrogoths Theodoric.
15. Ponte Pietra
Ponte Pietra (the Stone Bridge) is the only surviving bridge of Roman origins in Verona today. Its elegant arched structure spans the shores of the river Adige leading from the city’s medieval nucleus to what once was the hotspot of Roman Verona.
The first bridge to be erected at that place was made of wood. It was placed there during the construction of the Roman road Via Postumia. Its location was chosen as at that point the water current slows down and the river narrows as it follows a wide curve.
The current bridge is 92.80 metres long and 7.20 metres wide. It has five arches of different length and it perfectly reflects the history of Verona as it has a Roman, a Scaliger and a Venetian portion each erected with the construction techniques of the respective era.
On 24th April 1945, Ponte Pietra was destroyed by the receding German army. It was then restored over two years in the second half of the 1960’s using its original components and relying on the dedicated support of a whole army of archaeologists, architects, and engineers.
Crossing Ponte Pietra is one of the highlights of a visit to Verona. The bridge is beautiful and it connects in history and time two of the most important parts of the city.
16. Cathedral Complex
Just a short walk up from Ponte Pietra, you will come across Verona’s stunning duomo – the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
Initially built in the 4th century AD, this was Verona’s first Christian church. From then on, the cathedral underwent many changes, additions, and expansions as the need to accommodate larger and larger congregations exponentially grew. Many disasters like earthquakes and fires affected its buildings through the centuries, too.
Nowadays, the Cathedral Complex includes:
- Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta – with a beautiful stone facade and interiors decorated with many detailed and sophisticated frescoes. Plus, here you can see the only Titian’s painting conserved in Verona.
- Church and Baptisterium of San Giovanni in Fonte – spend a quiet moment admiring the Romanesque baptismal font. Carved out of a single piece of marble, it’s covered with richly sculpted bas-reliefs narrating the Baptism of Christ.
- Church of St. Elena – it occupies the original place at which the cathedral had been erected. Inside you can see preserved Paleo-Christian mosaics and several interesting archaeological excavations.
- Canon’s Cloister
- Biblioteca Capitolare – founded in the 5th century AD, this is the world’s most ancient library in the context of Latin culture.
- Bishop’s Residence
- Square in front of the cathedral
Please, check the cathedral’s official website for opening times. This website will give you up-to-date information about single and combined ticket prices for visitors of the churches of Verona. Be aware that visitors are expected to be dressed appropriately to show their respect to the religious environment.
After visiting Verona’s Cathedral Complex, spend a moment exploring the area in which it’s situated. Follow the narrow curving streets, admire the tall frescoed buildings, and peek in courtyards protected by thick walls and huge wooden gates. You will feel like being transported back to Verona of the Middle Ages.
17. Basilica of Sant’Anastasia
The Gothic Basilica of Sant’Anastasia is the largest church in Verona and one of the city’s truly unmissable sights. Built between 1280 and 1400 by the Dominican Order, the basilica has a plain exterior and an incredibly inspiring and beautifully decorated interior.
Standing between the tall pillars of white and red Verona marble, it’s like finding yourself in a sacred forest waiting for a miracle to happen. I particularly love the frescoed ceiling while the floor is decorated with marble in three colours – white, red, and black – in a geometric composition creating a visual three-dimensional effect.
If you have time, make sure that you take an audio guide (it’s free with the entrance ticket) and spend some quiet moments learning about the history of the basilica and the many works of art it contains. Each chapel reveals even more priceless pieces of art and centuries-old stories behind them all.
18. Corso Sant’Anastasia and Corso Porta Borsari
Corso in Italian means ‘main street’ in English and here are two of the main streets in Verona which follow a straight line and merge one into another.
Corso Sant’Anastasia starts from the homonymous church (see point 17 above) and then, at Piazza delle Erbe (see point 5 above), this long straight street becomes Corso Porta Borsari which takes you all the way to the Roman Borsari Gate.
It’s interesting to note that Corso Sant’Anastasia and Corso Porta Borsari follow the exact line of the ancient Decumanus Maximums – Verona’s main road in Roman times.
The urban plan of Roman cities was traditionally a grid made of streets (Decumani) running from east to west. These were perpendicularly crossed by the Cardini – streets that stretched from the north to the south.
The Decumanus Maximus was the main street which in the case of Verona followed the course of Via Postumia – the Roman road which connected Genoa to the west with Aquileia to the east.
So, walking on Corso Sant’Anastasia and Corso Porta Borsari is following in ancient tracks. Nowadays, both streets are lined with beautiful multi-storied palaces and buildings. Their ground floors host a gaggle of luxury shops selling both antique and modern-day objects of desire. In addition, there are several vestiges of the streets’ Roman past.
Here are some of the most interesting sights you can see strolling along:
- various antique shops selling refined collections of art, furniture, home decorations, and jewellery.
- Antica Salumeria G. Albertini – a historical deli in Verona which will delight all food lovers seeking to taste the local delicacies. Plus, it has a really beautiful shopfront.
- Palazzo Maffei – facing Piazza delle Erbe (see point 5 above), here is one of Verona’s most beautiful palaces and a perfect representation of the Baroque architectural style (see a photo under point 5 above).
- Gardello Tower – a medieval brick tower right next to Palazzo Maffei. In the Middle Ages, it served as Verona’s public clock as a large bell installed in the tower’s top would ring every hour. The bell weights 1,800 kg and nowadays is kept in the Castelvecchio Museum (see point 20 below).
- Pasticceria de Rossi (no relation to me) – one of Verona’s best bakeries where you can indulge in local sweets, savoury snacks, freshly-made pasta, and other delights. Personally, I have to pop in here every time that I am in Verona to buy a bag of my favourite sweets.
Called Baci di Romeo and Baci di Giulietta (literally ‘Romeo’s Kisses’ and ‘Juliet’s Kisses), they taste divine and are typical for Verona. Romeo’s version is made of almond paste and buttercream and Juliet’s is made of hazelnut paste and chocolate cream.
- Archaeological Area of Corte Sgarzerie – an inner courtyard rich in historical artifacts. The remains of Verona’s Capitolium have been unearthed here. Built in the 1st century BC to celebrate that Verona had become a Roman municipium, at its heart was a large temple dedicated to Juno, Jupiter, and Minerva. In the Middle Ages, the area became the centre of the important for Verona wool trade. A loggia was built there in 1299 to host the workers who were busy carding the wool. Known as the Loggia del Mangano, this elegant structure is supported by pillars of red Verona marble. Its top floor nowadays houses different associations whereas its ground floor is often filled with the tables of the nearby restaurants.
- Church of San Giovanni in Foro – a tiny medieval church with Renaissance elements which is often closed but if you spot it open, don’t miss your chance to visit. Inside, you will feel like you have been transported centuries back in time. The church has been at this spot since at least the 10th century and its name references the nearby Roman Forum which nowadays is where Piazza delle Erbe (see point 5 above) stands.
- Porta Borsari – a beautiful structure made of white stone. It used to be one of the two main gates in the Roman defensive walls through which people and loads flowed into Verona over twenty centuries ago. Only the external facade of Porta Borsari remains to this day. It’s about 13 m tall and 13 m wide.
19. Arco dei Gavi
Arco dei Gavi is a monumental Roman arch in Verona. You will find it right next to the medieval Castelvecchio (see point 20 below) with the river Adige flowing fast behind it.
The Gavi’s Arch was built in the 1st century AD in honour ot the gens Gavia – a noble Roman family of plebeian descent. Adorned with statues (since then lost) of members of the Gavi family, the arch was originally placed on Via Postumia. This was the Roman road that led from Genoa to Aquileia thus connecting the Ligurian Sea with the Adriatic Sea. In fact, on the ground between the arch’s columns, you can still see a tiny portion of the Via Postumia to this day.
During the Middle Ages, the Gavi’s Arch was moved to serve as a gate in Verona’s medieval defensive walls and was then known as the Porta Nuova di San Zeno. Apparently, at the time, the arch was also used to house a small shop or two.
With the revival of the interest in Roman architecture during the Italian Renaissance, the Gavi’s Arch was much admired by some of the most famous artists and architects of the time like Andrea Palladio and Andrea Mantegna. The arch was thoroughly studied and its shape replicated in the altars, chapels and main doors of some of the most important churches in Verona. For example, the Pindemonte altar in the Church of Sant’Anastasia (see point 17 above).
In 1805, the Gavi’s Arch was dismantled by the French soldiers who, under the command of Napoleon, had taken over Verona. The arch was put back together again more than a century later – in 1932 – at a time when there was a widespread national ambition to focus on the affiliation between Ancient Rome and Italy.
Since then the Gavi’s Arch stands tall and proud next to the Castelvecchio Museum. Its current place allows you to admire it from all four sides – as originally designed by the Roman architect Lucius Vitruvius Cerdo.
20. Castelvecchio & Scaliger Bridge
Castelvecchio – The Old Castle – is one of the most precious gems in Verona’s crown.
It is a mighty castle made entirely of red bricks on the shores of the river Adige. Its Gothic crenelated walls and robust square turrets take you right back to the time when the ruthless Scaliger family ruled over Verona. Between the 13th and the 14th centuries, the Scaligers built many castles in their lands. You can find them from Malcesine and Lazise on Lake Garda to Valeggio sul Mincio and Villafranca di Verona – two smaller towns within an easy reach of Verona.
Among them all, Castelvecchio is the most impressive and the sturdiest one – a castle built to withstand attacks and to house the military court of a militant despot.
Nowadays, Castelvecchio is home to a much more delicate collection. Hundreds of sculptures, paintings, frescoes, ceramics, weapons, and pieces of jewellery are displayed in the Castelvecchio Museum. Walking from room to room in the old castle and taking in its many works of art is a pleasure you can not miss in Verona. Originals by Pisanello, Bellini (Jacopo and Gentile), Mantegna, Tintoretto and Rubens adorn the walls.
There are two curious things about Castelvecchio:
- one is that the castle has its own bridge – the Scaliger Bridge – connecting it to the other side of the River Adige. Built also of red bricks, the bridge was meant to guarantee a safe passage to the Scaliger rulers should their castle be taken over by the army of an enemy.
- the other is that it was the renowned Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa whose restoration work allowed Castelvecchio to be transformed from a medieval castle into a worldwide known museum of art.
3 Verona Itineraries to Suit Every Taste and Ability
Based on the herewith listed 20 best things to do and see in Verona in one day, here are three potential itineraries to suit every taste and ability.
Of course, feel free to mix and match these 20 best things any way you like. It’s your day in Verona, so it’s you who decides what you want to see and do in this lovely Northern Italian city.
The three itineraries given below are simply suggestions which don’t oblige you in any way and also don’t give you any promises or guarantees. You should check in advance the opening hours of the different sights given above as well as which ones of them require payment in order to be visited. I have provided links to the sights’ official websites where possible.
I. In-depth Verona
If you have only a day to spend in Verona, Italy and yet you want to see it all (or, at least, as much as humanly possible), this is the right itinerary for you. Simply follow the twenty points above one by one and exactly in the order they are listed. By late afternoon you would have ticked off the most important unmissable sights in Verona together with several hidden gems and many stunning views.
This itinerary is taxing as you will spend all day walking between and inside sights, so wear your most comfortable shoes and carry water with you. You will need to start early in the morning and it will take you all day. Plus, you won’t be able to spend much time at each place but you will see so much.
This itinerary will take you through all the most important historical layers of Verona – Roman age, medieval heritage, Renaissance beauty, religious roots and fun modern times.
II. Verona’s Highlights
There are two options here:
- If you don’t want to cross to the other side of the river Adige, visit the following points in this order: 1-2-3-4-8-9-5-6-7-17-16-18-19-20.
- If you want to cross to the other side of the river Adige, visit the following points in this order: 1-2-3-4-5-7-8-17-15-14-15-18-19-20.
This is a more restrained version of the In-Depth Verona one-day itinerary given above. Again, you will walk lots and won’t be able to spend much time at each place but the rhythm will be slightly more relaxed.
III. Verona’s Top Five
Here are five of the best and most well-known things to do and see in Verona, Italy. Check their respective entries above for further details. You decide in what order to experience them.
1. Arena di Verona
3. Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza dei Signori
4. Juliet’s House
5. Church of Sant’Anastasia
Useful Tips about Visiting Verona, Italy in One Day
1. Where is Verona, Italy?
Verona is one of the major cities in the region of the Veneto in the northeast of Italy.
You will find Verona next door to Lago di Garda – Italy’s largest lake – and an easy train ride away from a number of the largest and most famous Italian cities like Venice, Bologna, Florence, Turin, and Milan.
2. How to reach Verona, Italy?
From abroad, the easiest way to reach Verona is by plane. The city has a small but busy airport which is connected to Verona’s main train station – Verona Porta Nuova – via a regularly running shuttle bus. There are several other nearby airports that are very convenient for Verona. Here is a shortlist:
- Verona Airport Valerio Catullo – Verona’s own airport is about 10 km away from the city’s main train station Verona Porta Nuova. A regular shuttle bus connects both in about 15 mins.
- Bergamo Airport Orio al Serio – depending on traffic, you can reach Verona by car on toll roads in about 1 hour 10 mins to 1 h 40 mins from Bergamo’s very popular low-cost airport. If you travel by bus and train, then expect a travelling time from around 1 h 30 mins to 2 hours 20 mins. The distance is 115 km.
- Marco Polo Airport – depending on traffic, you can reach Verona by car on toll roads in about 1 h 15 mins to 2 h from Venice’s bustling airport. If you travel by bus and train, then the average travelling time is just under 2 hours. The distance is 127 km.
- Bologna Airport Guglielmo Marconi – depending on traffic, you can reach Verona by car on toll roads in about 1 h 15 mins to 2 h from Bologna’s nicely appointed low-cost airport. If you travel by bus and train, then the travelling time can be anything between 1 h 30 mins and 2 h. The distance is about 139 km.
- Treviso Airport – depending on traffic, you can reach Verona by car on toll roads in about 1 h 20 mins to 2 h 10 mins from Treviso’s busy low-cost airport. If you travel by bus and train, then the travelling time stretches from 2 h 10 mins up to almost 3 h. The distance is 135 km.
- Milan Linate Airport – depending on traffic, you can reach Verona by car on toll roads in about 1 h 25 mins to 2 h 10 mins from Milan’s bustling airport. If you travel by bus and train, you will need anything between 2 and 3 h. The distance is 150 km.
Verona can also be reached easily by train and bus from anywhere in Italy or Europe. The city’s main train station – Verona Porta Nuova – is a major cross-junction station in Italy. It handles 25 million passengers annually. Verona Porta Nuova is on the main Milan-Venice trainline and you can get direct trains to Austria from there, too.
Verona is also very easy to reach by car. The city sits on the crossroads of some of the most important and busiest Italian and European highways and routes:
- A4 – this highway connects Verona with Turin, Milan, and Brescia to the west and Vicenza, Padua, Venice, and Triest to the east;
- European route E45 – this route connects Verona to several Italian cities (among them Perugia, Bologna, and Modena) to the south and many Italian as well as Central and Northern European cities (among them Trento, Bolzano, Innsbruck, Munich, and Hamburg) to the north.
3. How big is Verona, Italy?
Verona has around 260,000 inhabitants and a very walkable historic centre which is easy to navigate on foot and with a baby buggy. The city is on the river Adige which is crossed by several bridges.
If you have just a day to spend in this beautiful Italian city, you can easily walk around and tick off as many of the listed above 20 best things to do and see in Verona as you can and want.
There is a well-organised public transport system with buses crisscrossing the city. Buses, however, are not allowed inside Verona’s actual historical centre. Still, to save you the 20-minute walk, you can get a bus from the main train station Verona Porta Nuova to the Roman Arena di Verona and then explore on foot from there.
A small tourist train (called trenino) runs at regular intervals through Verona’s historic centre. It allows you to reach several sights on this list in relative comfort without having to walk all day. This is especially useful if you are travelling with small children (who will love exploring the city by train) or with adults with reduced mobility. Click here to find more information about Verona’s trenino.
4. What events take place in Verona, Italy?
Verona is a very active, energetic place where many different events and festivals take place throughout the year. In addition, VeronaFiere – a large exhibition centre on the outskirts of the city – hosts a long list of fairs of international fame.
Here are some of the most exciting and most important happenings taking place in Verona each year:
- Verona in Love – a multi-day festival dedicated to love and romance which takes place around St. Valentine’s Day;
- Verona Opera Festival – a world-class opera event taking place in the almost 2,000-years-old Roman Arena di Verona. Click here for more details and photos.
- Christmas in Verona – an exciting Christmas market and several accompanying events making the festive season in Verona an unmissable experience.
- Vinitaly – the largest wine exhibition in the world.
- Verona Carnival – expect a splendid Carnival parade, a shower of confetti and a mythical figure – the Papa del Gnoco. Click here for more details and photos.
Add to the above a never-ending thread of weekly markets, pop and rock concerts, theatre performances, large art exhibitions and culinary events and you will get an idea of how varied and exciting the social and cultural life of Verona is.
5. Can you recommend accommodation in Verona, Italy?
Sure! From first-hand experience, I can recommend the following three places to stay in Verona. The first two are perfect if you need to be in the centre of the action as they are both very centrally located for all important sights in the city’s historical centre. The third is ideal if you are planning a visit to an exhibition or fair in VeronaFiere as it is a few minutes on foot from it.
I have provided links directly to the websites of the three hotels, so that you can book directly with them rather than going through a third-party booking service. Please, kindly note that these are not affiliate links and I don’t earn any commission or another stimulus by recommending them. I loved staying in all three on different occasions and I am only too happy to pass the word along.
Here they are:
Palazzo Monga – a splendid boutique hotel housed in a lavish palazzo a step away from the Roman gate Porta Borsari (see point 18 above). Very elegant and with discreet service, it is a great place to stay at if you want an unforgettable Italian luxury experience.
Hotel Accademia – overlooking Mazzini Street (see point 4 above), this hotel combines a very convenient location with lovely service and surroundings. Excellent breakfast in the morning.
Crowne Plaza Verona – a very modern and comfortable hotel conveniently located for the nearby exhibition centre VeronaFiere and the large shopping mall Adigeo.
6. What nearby cities and towns can I visit from Verona, Italy?
Verona really is in the middle of the action as there are so many gorgeous places within an easy reach from it where you can head to for an unforgettable day trip in Italy. Venice, Milan, and Lake Garda are just three of them.
Click here for a detailed list giving you full information about 16 great destinations to explore travelling from Verona. Shortlists with unmissable sights, travel times, train tips and lots of photos are provided, too.
Verona is a beautiful city in the Northern Italian region of the Veneto with multilayered history, a host of exciting events, and a myriad of exciting sights to discover for yourself.
Known as the City of Love for being the stage of Romeo and Juliet’s tragic romance, Verona is also famous worldwide for its opera traditions, Roman heritage and medieval links.
If you only have a day to explore Verona and all it has to offer to the curious traveller, most likely you will want to cover as much ground as possible within your allotted time. The above blog post will help you do just this by taking you to all the major Verona sights and several of its hidden gems.
All this is logically organised in three possible itineraries which depend on your wish and ability to traverse Verona’s historical centre on foot for one long day.
From the stunning Arena di Verona (which is older than Rome’s Colliseum) to the medieval Castelvecchio which nowadays houses a collection of priceless art and artifacts – everything is covered. In addition to Verona’s vest views, most beautiful churches, historic piazzas, and a fun ride on a funicular. In the end, a short section with useful tips and practical information about visiting Verona is included, too.
I hope that the above blog post will be of help to you during the planning stages of your trip to Verona and that it will help you fall in love with this vibrant Italian city and everything it has to offer.
More Helpful Links
- Day Trips from Verona – 16 Destinations in Italy to Fall in Love with (With Travel Times and Train Tips)
- Verona Opera Festival – A Guide to the World’s Most Spectacular Opera Event
- The Intriguing Story of Madonna Verona Fountain – The Symbol of Verona
- Letters to Juliet or What Happened when I visited the Juliet Club in Verona, Italy
- Castelvecchio – A Must-See in Verona
- My Favourite Place in Verona
- Verona Motor Bike Expo – Experience Italy from a Different Point of View
- Parco delle Cascate and Molina – A Great Day Out in the Province of Verona
- Sanctuary of Madonna della Corona – Visiting Italy’s Church Suspended Between Heaven and Earth
- Top 15 Places to Visit in the Veneto, Italy – The Ultimate Guide
- Best 12 Towns to Visit around Lago di Garda – Italy’s Largest Lake
- Lake Garda with Kids or the Best 11 Things to Do at Lake Garda for Families
- Day Trips from Padua, Italy – Over 25 Unmissable Destinations in the Veneto, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna
- Day Trips from Vicenza, Italy – Over 90 of the Best Destinations
- 11 of the Best Day Trips from Venice (With Lots of Photos, Travel Times and Italy Train Tips)
- Italian Food – 13 Ways to Eat Well in Italy Without Breaking the Bank
- Video of Juliet’s House in Verona
- Video of the display of a traditional Italian patisserie in Verona
- Video of The Juliet Club in Verona
- Video of Piazza Bra with Arena di Verona
- Video of Verona’s skyline seen from Giardino Giusti
- Video of Verona’s skyline seen from the funicular of Castel San Pietro
- Video of Verona Marathon
Have you been to Verona, Italy? What did you love the most there? What else do you think must definitely be on my list with 20 best things to do and see in Verona, Italy above? Let me know in the Comments section below!
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