Currently, Verona is a buoyant town frequented by travelers who profess their love of art and history. A visit should start in one of its most famous Roman monuments: the Verona Arena—a symbol of the city—built in the first century AD as a grand stage to celebrate gladiator games.
Located in northern Italy, in the Veneto, Verona is a thriving, engaging city considered by many as one of the most beautiful of the Transalpine country.
The vast Arena has a capacity for 20,000 spectators and is located in the beautiful Piazza Bra. It is the world’s third largest amphitheater. This space has been—for more than one hundred years—the venue for majestic presentations directed and performed by major international musicians and bel canto stars. This year, the 93rd edition of the Verona Arena Festival—which takes place form June to September—will host more than 60 spectacles, including Aida, Tosca, Carmen and Romeo and Juliet, among others.
Near the Arena, you’ll find the imposing Palazzo della Gran Guardia, and towards the south, the neoclassical Palazzo Barbieri. On its northern end is the famous Strip, where the Veronese come for cozy strolls or long walks. In the end, you’ll reach Via Mazzini, Verona’s most lively and elegant street, home to the best shops and boutiques. Via Manzini ends at Via Capello, famous for its impact on world literature. Here, you’ll find the famous house from Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. Thousands of visitors come to see the balcony where the Great Bard imagined the lovely maiden listening to Romeo’s tender verses.
A few steps away is the majestic Piazza delle Erbe, the old Roman forum surrounded by the Lamberti Tower and the Mazzanti Houses with their legendary frescoes on the right side. In the nearby Piazza della Signoria there is a statue of the great writer Dante Alighieri, sculpted in Carrara marble, and surrounded by legendary palaces of notable historical and artistic importance.
Not to be missed, the monumental tombs of the Lords of Verona are located in the atrium of the Church of Santa Maria Antica. Not far away is Via Sottoriva, one of the city’s emblematic streets, from which you can admire the apse of the church of Santa Anastasia, an example of Italian Gothic that houses the famous fresco St. George and the Princess by Pisanello.
Along the Adige River—which divides the city—the traveler will discover the admirable Stone Bridge and the Roman Theater. Clearly visible in the distance is the grand dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Matricolare, whose construction begun in the eighth century, and features a valuable altarpiece by Titian.
Two of the best five-star hotels in Verona are the Gabbi D’Oro and the Due Torri, occupying precious historical buildings. For an enjoyable gastronomic experience, nothing beats Casa Perbellini, which specializes in the creative Italian cuisine of the Veneto. ■