Verona, located in Northeast Italy in the Veneto region, is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Often overlooked beside neighboring Venice, it possesses an impressive artistic heritage and many cultural diversions. It has also been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the importance and value of its many historical edifices. Located a short drive from Venice or Lake Garda, in the heart of the Valpolicella wine zone, it is an ideal destination for visitors looking to experience the many sides of Italy – cultural events, shopping, history, fine dining and amazing wines.
Here are 5 experiences not to miss on your tour of Verona.
1. A performance at the Arena
The Arena in Verona, located in Piazza Bra, is the third largest Roman amphitheater in Italy. While only a small portion of the original outer perimeter wall remains, the interior is virtually intact, and is still used today for fairs, theater and the famous summer opera series. From Aida to Michael Buble, there are performances for all tastes, and an evening under the stars in these ancient surroundings is sure to be the highlight of your Italy stay.
2. Shopping along Via Mazzini
A stroll along Via Mazzini offers a wide array of shops, from luxury designers to local artisans. Find the perfect souvenir, from a Gucci bag that is unavailable outside of Italy, to unique handmade linens. Just plan around the afternoon store closings; most are closed for the daily ‘riposo’, between 12:30 and 4 to 5pm.
3. Taste the local wines
After shopping, revive yourself with a taste or two of the superb local wines, ranging from refreshing white Soave, a sparkling rose Chiaretto, an elegant Valpolicella to a huge, robust Amarone. The friendly bartenders at Osteria del Bugiardo serve up wines made on their own estate, along with some wonderful bar snacks. Antica Bottega del Vino, on Vicolo Scudo di Francia serves wines and a variety of digestifs from many local producers. You’ll be able to try small tastes of many wines, a very enjoyable way to educate yourself on the wines of the region.
4. Experience the local cuisine
If you want to acquaint yourself with true Veronese cuisine, visit the casual but extremely popular Trattoria Al Pompiere, between Piazza del Erbe and Juliet’s Balcony. From platters of house-cured meats and local cheeses to pasta specialities such as bigoli and gnocchi, you’ll be able to try the regional cuisine, accompanied by a wide selection of wine available by the glass.
5. Explore the history
Castelvecchio, or Old Castle, lies on the banks of the Adige River, about a 5 minute walk from the Arena. Built in 1354 by the local ruling family, the Scaligari, today the turrets and towers of this crenelated castle are home to Verona’s museum. While enjoying the unique architecture of the castle itself, visitors can explore a diverse collection of artworks, from statues and carvings from the Middle Ages, frescoes, jewelry, and paintings by Venetian masters such as Tintoretto, Pisanello, Bellini, Tiepolo, Carpaccio and Veronese.
Kathy Bechtel is Owner of Italiaoutdoors.