Whether you decide to visit Verona, Italy for a quick trip or stay a week, one thing is for sure, you will fall in love. Similar to the beloved writer, screenplay, actor, William Shakespeare, you will find yourself enchanted with this magnificent city. Once just a pit-stop for many tourists, Verona is being discovered as a place to stay and explore. Verona use to be considered a day trip from Venice for people concentrating on the city. However, after spending the weekend there, I can tell you the tides are turning. Now, because of the cost of hotel rooms, tours and over-crowding in Venice, Verona is quickly becoming the base for many travelers to discover the surrounding areas. Easy to get to from Tuscany, North Italy and Venice, Verona is the new hot spot and not just because of Juliet’s famous balcony.
For the love of people
We stayed in the lovely B&B, Agli Scaligeri, right in the city center with our new friends, Mario, Nadia and Iacoppo. This delightful B&B is a perfect place to call home while you are Italy. We were made to feel at home and as an extension of their family. I love the connection with people that make these trips so amazing. We learned all about their love of art, businesses (Mario is a restaurateur) and family. Iacoppo became our unofficial guide speaking perfect English and indulged us with all the great places to shop, eat and see.
For the love of cooking
The food is amazing in Verona and a few nights we were invited to help cook with Mario and Nonna (Nadia’s mother) where we learned how to cook risotto (which is one of the regional specialties.) Along with pastas and sauces, we became experts in cooking a simple pumpkin cream soup. My friend Shelly, really loves to cook was attached to Mario at one point while and watched him very carefully adding this and that.
Grandma (Nonna) taught us how to roll out orchiette (little ears) and a thick spaghetti pasta. If you’ve ever eaten in Italy you know dinner is served late around 8 p.m. and can last for a few hours. The good news is we were usually drinking wine and talking while waiting between courses. If you are in Italy, ask about cooking classes, they range between €80-100/person for a four hour class and include four-five courses that you will enjoy immensely.
For the love of wine
Verona is known for several fine wines but most notably is Ripasso, Amarone and Recioto. These are what you consider a heavier wines but not as heavy as a Cabernet. The Recioto is a dessert wine and served with a delicious almond cake that the Veronese dip in it. YUM! We went to a few wine tastings, one in an “Osteria,” these are little bars scattered throughout the city that serve wine as well as small appetizers. They are the perfect to pop-in during the day for a little boost and have a bite of food (cicchetti.) Our favorite was the Osteria Locandina Capello right near Juliet’s balcony. Try your tasting in the cave basement of the restaurant, a little hard to find on your own but this was a really cool experience!
For the love of shopping
When in Italy, you must shop! I think this is on a bumper sticker. Our little group felt like we needed to do our part and visited several flea markets, shoe stores, and open markets. I found a few wonderful purses, I couldn’t live without and of course, a few pairs of shoes. Every Saturday there is a flea market located at the Soccer Stadium on the Piazzale Olimpia and this is where you can really find bargains. Beware though, the longer you stay the more crowded it becomes and kind of frenzied.
On Sunday, we visited the Antique market on the Piazza San Zeno which is only on the first Sunday of the month. Parking can be tricky but there are parking lots available, you’ll just need to walk to the market. This market had a lot of great finds but the prices to me were a little higher on demijohn’s and furniture but they also featured items you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
The open markets of Verona are filled with excitement and bartering. Don’t forget to ask for a lower price, most of the time this works, even for a little bit. Some vendors are very firm but most are willing and excited to haggle a bit.
For the love of history
Verona is not just a city for the women to shop, drink and eat. Filled with history we learned all about the powerful Scaliger family who ruled for over 100 years. Their dominating castle still remains in tact despite a Napoleonic invasion. Whether you stroll through the town on a tour, with Daniel from Veronaround or visit Castel Vecchio castle and museum, the history of Verona is rich and powerful.
On our walking tour with Daniel, we discovered the Amphitheater & Arena, built before the Coliseum in Rome, it mirrors it’s famous twin. However, earthquakes and war have left it’s mark. Today, a concert hall for a three-month long summer Opera celebration, music can be heard every night from June to August throughout the city.
Castel Vecchio is considered one of the most important military fortresses for this famous ruling family of Verona. Unfortunately, after a hundred years of power the family fell out of graces and Verona became part of the democratic republic of Venice. The sculpture and art on display in this museum is magnificent and was included in our VeronaCard.
Here are a few more tips on making your visit to Verona amazing.
- Stop for gelato, just about any gelato shop serves amazing ice cream, try the “pear.”
- Visit the information center, everyone speaks English, (most times better than we do)
- My new favorite website to connect in major cities to locals – likealocalguide.com/verona
- Find a cooking class it’s worth the extra price (remember might be 4 hours long)
- VeronaCard, a museum discount card, has several packages we chose the €15/2 day pass, includes Arena, Castel Vecchio and many more.
If you are stationed anywhere in Germany, Verona is not far away and makes a great weekend trip or longer if you decide to visit the region. I fell in love with the people, the food, the wine and history, I think you will too.