Best known as the setting for Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet,” Verona is a picturesque city filled with Roman ruins, Renaissance palaces and medieval buildings. Located between Milan and Venice in Northern Italy, the city receives a bit less attention from travelers than its more celebrated neighbors but not for lack of attractions. Verona offers visitors the chance to enjoy all of the charms of an ancient Italian city without constantly battling crowds.
Cobblestone streets and a compact size invite visitors to explore Verona on foot, pausing along the way to take refreshments in the city’s many wine bars and restaurants. Although the first stop for many visitors is “Juliet’s House” with its recently added balcony, it’s important to remember that Romeo and Juliet were characters from fiction, not reality. Nevertheless, the house and its courtyard attract lovers from all over the world who come to reenact the balcony scene in person.
Of the city’s historical sites, the grand Roman amphitheater is the most famous. The third largest Roman arena in the world, the 1st-century amphitheater is remarkably well preserved and has surprisingly good acoustics. Plays are still performed in the 25,000-seat arena. The nearby Archeological Museum spans the history of Verona, from 3rd-century mosaic floor fragments to 15th-century Jesuit artifacts. Among the best representations of the Renaissance period is the Duomo, with its recently restored frescoes and marble interiors.
At dusk, Verona’s star attraction is the Via Mazzini, a broad thoroughfare where locals take their evening stroll, or “la passeggiata.” The parade ends in the Piazza delle Erbe where visitors can relax at a sidewalk café to enjoy an aperitivo or shop for mementos of their trip to city of star-crossed lovers.