I stopped off in Verona mainly to break up the journey between Venice and Milan, and found myself falling in love with the architecture, food, and people. I’ve made a list of some of the things I did that I would recommend to other travelers passing through.
1. Have some cicchetti for breakfast!
Cicchetti is Venetian tapas, and comes in many forms of deliciousness. Often it is some sort of ham and cheese on a slice of French bread. They are delightfully presented and shouldn’t cost you more than €1-1.50 a slice. See if you can find some pesto cicchetti as the pesto in Italy is top notch! Many restaurants and snack bars offer cicchette, and we tried Ristorante Trattoria Arche.
2.Verona’s very own Colosseum.
The “Arena” holds 15,000 people and frequently hosts opera events. For €10, you can enter the structure and have a look around the venue. If you decide that €10 is too much, then have a walk around the arena to get an appreciation of its size, and some of the archways allow you a sneaky peak at the inside.
3. Add your name to Romeo’s House.
Anyone studied Romeo and Juliet? If you did, you probably remember that it was set in Verona. Romeo and Juliet (Giulietta in Italian) each have a building dedicated to their characters to attract tourists. Romeo’s is the less impressive of the two, but make sure you take a pen to add your name to the brick wall like many tourists before you.
4. Check out Juliet’s balcony.
An archway leads you to a courtyard, again, covered in scribbles where couples and singletons alike have left their names on the wall. The balcony is very fetching, and if you really like it then you can pay to stand on the balcony overlooking the tourists in the courtyard. Also here, a statue of Juliet grabs the tourists’ attention.
People were queueing to have a grope of Juliet’s breast for a photo, apparently this is good luck. I decided against it for two reasons: I felt like it encourages people to treat women like objects, and Juliet was a child. No thank you.
5. Get your name stitched onto something.
In the selfsame courtyard are two shops, one that sells souvenirs and padlocks kitted out with a pen in case you wanted to go the extra step of adding your and your loved one’s name to the wall.
The other had a few seamstresses and tailors behind a sewing machine who would stitch whatever word you want onto a towel, apron, cushion cover, hat… At the front of the shop, you can get your name stitched onto a piece of paper for free!
6. Have lunch in a family-run Italian restaurant.
I can whole-heartedly recommend da Mario’s. This place opened at 12.30pm and by 12.40pm, it was filling up. Everything is made fresh, which sometimes requires a wait for your food of up to half an hour, but you could always fill your time making your way through a 4 Euro half litre karafe of wine or prosecco. The risotto was divine, and the pizzas looked fantastic too – three pages of pizzas in the menu!
7. Gelato hop.
This is always a winner in Italian cities. You can’t walk very far without coming across a gelateria, so check out a few before you decide on a winner, or go to a bunch and compare! Despite lots of recommendations, Gelateria Savoie famed for being the oldest gelateria in Verona, it had a poor selection of flavours and grumpy staff. I would suggest Patagonia for impressive presentation and yummy flavours.
8. Admire the architecture.
It’s worth a wander round the city to see some of the quaint streets and stunning buildings. It has an strangely old yet modern feeling with the old buildings and window shutters vs the shiny new and expensive fashion shops.
9. Go to… Square to shop at the markets.
If you’re looking for a souvenir or simply want to interact with locals selling their wares then go here. It offers everything from snow globes to calzone under rain-proof gazebos for whatever your heart desires.
10. Look at the displays at Il Gelso bookshop.
A small bookshop close to Juliet’s balcony with oddly satisfying displays. I got excited by the vintage abacus that stood out against the books behind arranged first according to colour and then according to size that reminded me of a gradient fill on a PowerPoint slide.
Parking is super easy if you come by car at the central parking lot, which only charges €1 per hour. This is a fancy car park that has green and red lights above each space to let you know their availability.