Verona is a city of many layers, where ancient Romans, medieval nobles, Venetian signori, Napoleon, and Austrian Hapsburgs, have woven a rich tapestry of art, architecture, and history throughout its urban fabric. The city’s great appeal lies in the fact that, from its historic center to the banks of the Adige River, it is both a bustling, modern northern Italian city and a living testament to Verona’s glorious past.
Begin your exploration of Verona in the centrally located Piazza Brà, where the enormous Arena, a Roman amphitheatre from the first century A.D., is located. To this day, the Arena still hosts the 22,000 spectators attending the prestigious, annual opera season held there each summer. Located nearby are the Palazzo Barbieri and Palazzo della Gran Guardia. Along the Liston, an elegant pink marble sidewalk that borders one side of Piazza Brà, and along the Via Mazzini, Verona’s most elegant shopping avenue, the Veronese enjoy a daily, ritual stroll called the passeggiata. At the end of Via Mazzini sits one of the city’s most famous monuments, Casa di Giulietta, home of Juliet, Shakespeare’s tragic heroine.
A short distance away, on the site of the ancient Roman forum, you will find Piazza delle Erbe, now home to a local market and surrounded by buildings and towers dating from the 12th-17th centuries. The Madonna Verona, a fountain found in its center, is a symbol of the city. Passing underneath an unusual archway (a large rib hangs down from its main arch) you enter Piazza dei Signori, the former seat of the medieval Scaligier reign (the della Scala family palace is found at one end of the piazza). Adjacent, you will see the beautiful Arche Scaligere, sepulchral monuments of Cangrande della Scala and his family.
The characteristic Via Sottoriva takes you to the banks of the Adige and the church of Sant’ Anastasia, a repository of medeival and Renaissance works of art. On the other side of the river, just across the Roman bridge Ponte Pietra, rises the Teatro Romano, the Roman theater. Continuing further along the river embankment, you will come upon Verona’s cathedral, the Duomo, whose harmonious Gothic interior complements the priceless altarpiece by Titian located inside.
The wide loop of the river that encloses the historical city center ends at a remarkably well-preserved medieval castle, the Castelvecchio, a 14th century work of the Scaligeri, and home to an important local art museum. Further down the river, the itinerary concludes at the Basilica di San Zeno one of the most beautiful and important Romanesque churches in northern Italy. Masterpieces such as the bronze panels of the main portal and Andrea Mantegna’s triptych found at the high altar are indicative of an important period of artistic flourishing in the city.