We recently spent a wonderful 72 hours in the gorgeous Northern Italian city of Verona – probably most famous for Casa di Giulietta and her balcony, which was immortalised by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
My husband took me to Verona for my birthday present and I had little expectation of what the city would look like or what there would be to do so when he Googled some images to show me, I knew instantly that I was going to love it! In fact, it reminded me a bit of Florence minus the magnificent Duomo (Verona does have a Duomo, it’s just not as spectacular as Florence’s is). Like Florence, Verona also has a river running through, with lots of bridges, making it very picturesque.
Verona is fairly small so it’s the perfect city break for a long weekend. So what did we get up to in our 72 hours?
After checking in we headed out for a walk and to have an aperitivo. About a 4 minute walk from our hotel was the main square – Piazza delle Erbe – which used to be Verona’s forum during the Roman Empire.
There are lots of shops, restaurants, bars and even market stalls in the piazza. There is a gorgeous fountain in the centre with a statue called “Madonna Verona”, which is the oldest monument in the square and dates back to the 4th century. The fountain itself was built in 1368.
Just a few minutes away from Piazza delle Erbe you will find Casa di Giulietta where Shakespeare was inspired to write his famous play, Romeo and Juliet. It’s a Gothic-style house from the 1300s and apart from the balcony, it’s pretty underwhelming as the small courtyard is shared with shops and a wall full of love locks.
After Juliet’s balcony we followed the signs to the Arena, which is a Roman amphitheatre (quite like Rome’s Colosseum) that hosts operas. It was dusk at this point so the perfect time for an Aperol Spritz while gazing at the beautiful Arena.
That night we had dinner at La Cantina Del 15, which was really good. My pasta of tagliatelle with venison ragu was definitely the best pasta I had over the entire weekend.
The restaurant itself was lovely – we sat upstairs, which was quite cosy with only three tables and a view of the kitchen. I’m not usually a fan of tiramisu as I’m not keen on coffee in my dessert but this one was really good as the coffee wasn’t overpowering. It was quite subtle actually. All in all, the food was good, service was great and the price was pretty reasonable. I’d definitely go back the next time we’re in Verona.
On Saturday morning we decided to visit the Castelvecchio (which translates as ‘old castle’). The castle began construction in 1354, under the rule of Cangrande II but he only lived there a little while as he was assassinated in 1359. Somewhere between 1920 and 1930 it has served as a museum. It costs €6 per person to visit the castle and it’s filled with religious artwork and armour and swords. The best part for me was being able to see the Castelvecchio bridge from the castle walls.
After visiting the castle museum, we walked across Castelvecchio Bridge (or Scaliger Bridge), which is open to the public. The bridge was built around 1354 and was meant to be a safe way for the Cangrande to escape. Unfortunately the bridge was destroyed by a German bomb in 1945 and reconstruction began in 1949 and was completed in 1951.
It’s a very popular spot for photos! Be careful climbing up though. Who needs Health and Safety eh?
After Castelvecchio, we walked all the way along the Adige river to Ponte Pietra which is a Roman arch bridge and is the oldest bridge in Verona. Apparently it was completed in 100BC. It’s really pretty and quite different to Castelvecchio Bridge.
The bridge is very close to the Roman Theatre (Teatro Romano), which was unfortunately closed when we went to visit on our last day.
After all that walking and exploring it was off to lunch at 12 Apostoli where I had an amazing starter of rabbit ragu with a foie gras sauce. It was fabulous! The restaurant itself is very old school…. it could definitely do with modernising the decor but I couldn’t fault the food.
After lunch we walked back to the Arena, where there was a classic car show taking place. As it was such a beautiful day it would have been a crime not to enjoy a gelato! I had pistachio and hazelnut. Delicious! My first ice-cream of the season.
That evening we had dinner at Locanda 4 Cuochi (4 chefs), which is very close to the Arena. I highly recommend booking in advance if you want to go as it’s very popular – and for good reason as it’s really good. We really enjoyed our food and the service was excellent.
We both had the risotto as our primi (first course) and then my husband had the pork and I had the barbecued quail, followed by a berry dessert to share.
Verona is really quite small so on the Sunday we decided to take a bus to visit one of the towns on Lake Garda. Having spoken to someone at the Tourism office the day before we settled on Sirmione, and armed with our bus timetable off we went. In just one hour we had arrived. I won’t share too much as I’ll blog about Sirmione separately but if you have more than two days in Verona, I highly recommend a visit to Sirmione. It has a stunning castle!
For our last night in Verona we had dinner at Ristorante La Piazzetta, which was down a little side street close to our hotel. We opted for one of their tasting menus and really enjoyed it. As it was a Sunday night it was fairly quiet but I loved the decor, the food was great and our waiter was very funny!
Our flight on Monday was at 5:20pm so it gave us plenty of time to walk around Verona and enjoy a nice lunch. As mentioned, Verona is quite small so we went back to Castelvecchio bridge, tried to visit the Roman Theatre (it was closed) and had coffee by the Duomo.
We opted for lunch near Ponte Pietra, called Alcova del frate. This was where my husband had his favourite pasta of the trip! I loved the decor of this restaurant – very quirky but modern. They also make artisan ice-cream.
I absolutely loved our long weekend in Verona! I highly recommend it for a weekend break and it’s only an hour and a half flight from London. I’ve created a trip of Verona on Esplorio, where you can see everywhere we visited. Check it out here.