The City of Verona is renowned for its military defensive architecture.
Verona’s surviving architecture and urban structure reflect the evolution over its 2,000-year history. Important periods were its time as a Roman municipium, the rule of the Scaliger family (1259-1387), and that of the Venetian Republic.
Community Perspective: Verona is rich in historic buildings, but the Roman Arena (Tsunami attended an opera performance here) and the medieval Castelvecchio seem to capture the reviewers the most.
Map of VeronaLoad map
Prior to my three night stay in March of 2023, I mostly knew Verona as the setting of Romeo & Juliet. Turns out, I found the Casa de Giulietta to be a pretty huge tourist trap. But beyond that, the number of interesting sights in its historical core makes it a great city to visit. From Roman times, the big attractions are the arena and theater (photo), even though we didn't see any performances. Coming across other Roman era city gates or pieces of the walls is also a treat as you explore the town and there's a nice Roman museum at the theater. The 14th century Castelvecchio and its museum and historic bridge are also not to be missed. The main cathedral is really gorgeous, and you can also view foundations of a very early Christian church that it was built upon. There are other beautiful churches in town and we attended mass at the very nice 13th century Basilica of St. Anastasia. We took the funicular up to the St. Peter "castle" for some great views over the town, but I also went to the top of the tall Torre dei Lamberti to enjoy more views. We also visited the Giusti Garden, which was pleasant enough, but I'd rate it as not worth the steep admission cost.
Around town, we also enjoyed some great food, such as the uniquely delicious "torta russa" cake at Pasticcerria Barria and small plates at the historic Osteria Monte Baldo. Overall, I was really happy for the chance to spend a few days in Verona. The main pedestrian areas were very busy in March, and I'd hate to see how crowded things become in the height of the summer tourist season.
I had previously visited the Verona WHS, and the below is only about my experience at one of its components, Arena di Verona, in summer 2022.
It just sounded fun for me to attend the annual Arena di Verona opera festival and to watch its signature production of Aida composed by Verdi and directed by Franco Zeffirelli. So I bought a ticket for summer 2020. The festival was cancelled due to covid, and the full production of Aida was finally mounted again this summer in 2022. With my ticket I was able to just change the date of attendance from 2020 to 2022.
I chose a seat fairly far from the stage not just because the ticket was cheaper, but also because I wanted a good view to observe this large production.
Now straight to the point. It was not a very good experience. What was the problem? First and foremost the problem was the sound. I should have known better. Roman amphitheaters (amphi- means circular) were not designed for performing arts. You know what they were designed for. For performing arts, the Greeks created Greek theaters, the Romans actually succeeded them and even built one right here in Verona, that is Teatro Romano. And there is even an opera festival at Teatro Romano going on concurrently!
No matter how many singers they brought on stage, which numbered several hundreds at times, it did not sound right. Then you can imagine what arias sounded like... I do not believe sitting closer to the stage would have made the sound much better.
I saw a play at the WH Epidaurus Theater in Greece, but I would imagine musical performance there should also be quite outstanding.
Although this summer was the 99th season of this festival, and the festival itself has created a reputable history (like Maria Callas made her Italian debut here), I'd say the production was a pure eye candy and the festival is for entertainment purpose only. Then, no wonder Franco Zeffirelli is the best known director at this festival while his mentor Luchino Visconti, the most important opera director at the Teatro alla Scala di Milano (as well as one of the cinematic giants of the 20th century), never directed an opera at the Arena di Verona.
Therefore, I have concluded that, although the set of Aida (photo) evoked the Abu Simbel Temples that played a major role in the formation of the idea for the World Heritage at UNESCO, producing this annual opera festival at this amphitheater is a misuse/abuse of the WHS!
Read more from Tsunami here.
For me the main reason to visit Verona is its marvelous mediaeval churches. I would recommend buying the Verona Card which allows you entry to the five top churches - all of which deserve a visit - as well as to the Roman Arena and Castelvecchio (the Scaglier Palace with a picture gallery). There is also a Roman theatre where plays are performed (don't confuse it with the Arena which is an amphitheatre). Near the theatre there is a nice small archeological museum.
September 2018 - my wife and me had spent a few hours in Verona coming back from Tuscany in May 2016. But this time I was going to a conference and spent 3 nights in Verona. My room was just next to Castelveccio and I needed 5 min to the Arena. I already arrived on sunday. so I had 1/2 day and 2 evenings to stroll around the streets surrounding Piazze del Erbe.
It is a beautiful city with Renaissance Houses and a completely intact city center. Highlites were the Arena, Piazzas, Ponti and views to the other side of the Etsch. You could also visit the whole city within 1 day. But that way I could enjoy food, drinks and the atmosphere of the city.
My wife and I visited Verona in early September 2017. We had a fantastic day here, walking around and exploring in the late summer sunshine.
The UNESCO entry for this location specifically mentions the legacy of the Roman era, the medieval era, and the Venetian era, and I actually found it really easy to wander around and spot parts of each on display. It's such a great city for exploring and discovering, with cool little history tidbits along the way.
See below for my full video review!
Read more from Joel on the Road here.
I visited this WHS several times and I lived here for less than a year. It is the city of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, embellished with uncountable monuments, churches and bridges along the Adige river. The arena is well preserved and viewing a live concert there is a real treat. Don't miss feasting in one of the many trattorie Verona has to offer and try the red Valpolicella wine or else the Soave white wine. Here you're spoilt rotten!
I found the core of the city's heritage sites to be in the Piazza del Erbe and the adjacent Piazza dells Signora. Here there were decorated builings in assorted styles, towers, archways and not far away, excavations of the Lion Gate. Further away to the north is the monumental cathedral, to the west beside the river is the Castelvecchio, and to the south is the Roman arena in Piazza Bra. This was the scene of a pop concert on the day of my visit.
Apart from catching buses to and from Porta Nuova station there was no public transport available, so I had more than enough exercise visiting all these sites.
I really enjoyed my brief visit to Verona. There were plenty of impressive buildings to visit however we had most fun just walking along the busy streets eating ice creams and looking in the shop windows.
My visit was rather brief and I would happily go back for a longer visit. I really enjoyed seeing the continuation of the buildings in the city. From the impressive Roman amphitheatre, through to small medieval churches, large renaissance structures and plenty of modern delights. Perhaps my favourite thing was the Pietra bridge which offered lovely views across the city. I also really enjoyed sitting down on the Piazza delle Erbe for a wonderful bowl of the local speciality gnocchi.
I would happily go back to Verona for a longer stay, there seemed to be plenty to see and do, and there was a nice ambiance to strolling through the streets.
[Site 6: Experience 6]
Verona is a city of gates, towers, and bridges. When you walk into town from the railway station the impressive 16th century Porta Nuova marks the beginning of the historical area. A little further there’s the Arena – a Roman amphitheatre from the first century and still in use for Verona’s popular summer operas. It’s an elliptic building, its dark hallways reminding me a lot of a modern football stadium. Construction works were going on, presumably for the opera season.
A few hundred meters to the west is a landmark of another era: the Castelvecchio. From its bridge, there’s a good view of what I found to be the most rewarding sight in Verona: the San Zeno church. The interior of this 12th-century church has a very pleasing colour scheme, soft colours enhanced by the sunlight coming in. Many frescoes decorate the walls. And I didn’t even get to see the supposedly marvellous bronze doors, they are (temporarily I hope) hidden behind wooden covers.
More to the north there are a number of pretty squares, a Dante statue, the Duomo, the Ponte Pietra bridge, and the Roman Theatre. Verona can easily be explored on foot, and there are always plenty of terraces around for lunch or people watching.
Although the city has lived through a number of ruling parties, it has a very homogeneous look. A lot of the same construction material has been used, and the shapes are what could be called ‘elegant romanesque’. On the theme of ‘urban continuity’, some parallels also can be drawn with the German World Heritage of Trier: it’s amazing to see Roman remains of this quality so far north in Europe.
Verona is one the greatest cities in Italy, very important both historically and culturally. Several Shakespeare plays are set there, and the balcony from Romeo and Juliet is always a major tourist draw (well, it's just any old balcony, really). The Lion of St.Marks can be seen throughout the city, attesting to the city's past as part of the Republic of Venice. There are many churches, monuments, and fortresses from various epochs, especially the Late Middle Ages, when the Scaliger family ruled Verona, but the greatest sight of them all is the arena, where nowadays operas are performed.
Verona is one of my favourite Italian cities. From the open-air opera performances during the summer months to delightful decorations of the pedestrian-only areas during the holiday season, the town just begs to be explored. That being said, some sites are better than others. Don't get dragged into the tourist trap at "Juliet's House", and the arena, unless there is a performance going on, isn't really worth an entrance fee. I prefer instead heading over to the Roman theatre on the opposite bank of the river or strolling around the streets and alleys surrounding the Piazza dell'Erbe. Although the town becomes quite crowded in the summer, its generous open streets offer a welcomed contrast to the crush of Venice.
Italy sometimes seems just too rich with architecture and history. After visiting 6 - 7 magnificent cities you just get weary. So it happened for me with Verona. Then I did not like it very much.
Now, after some years I begin to appreciate this town. It does not have magnificent views (at least I did not find any), but it is very reach with history and magnificent buildings. It is ridiculous that most tourists associate this town with the story of Romeo and Giulietta - to me (o, yeah, I am not the general tourist, gy gy) far more interesting seemed the story about the tusk of elephant. It is hanging under one arch. It is said that this tusk would fall on the first bypasser who is free of sins. So it hangs there for centuries, thousands of tourists including popes from Rome are passing the arch, I did it as well...
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As "Roman Theatre and Amphitheatre of Verona": Bureau - combine it with an eventual nomination of the Historic Centre of Verona OR await completion of Comparative study
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