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Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo. If you’ve been exposed to Shakespearean literature in school as I had, Verona is definitely one of the places in Italy that you must visit. We recently had the opportunity to visit, and here are our recommendations of what to do, see and eat while spending 24 hours in Verona.

Getting to Verona

Verona’s Porta Nuova is the main train station with excellent connectivity to big cities such as Milan, Venice, Turin, Florence, Bologna and Rome. We took a 2-hour train from Milan and arrived at Porta Nuova with minimal fuss. We caught a glimpse of Lake Garda along the way too! The bus station is located right outside Porta Nuova where you can purchase a bus ticket to the city. It’ll take you a 10-minute bus ride to the city centre.

Purchasing the Verona card

The Verona Card is a city pass that gives you free or discounted access to attractions and museums in the city. It is available for either 24 or 48-hours and gives you unlimited rides on the local ATV buses that take you around the city. It costs €20 for 24 hours, and €25 for 48 hours upon first validation of the ticket. The pass also enables priority entrance to Verona Arena, so you can skip the line.

While it’s useful, we didn’t purchase the Verona Card. Our hotel was just a minute walk away from the old town, so we basically went around on foot. The only times we took a bus was to get to and from Porta Nuova to catch our train to Venice. Most of the attractions are located within the old city walls, and they’re all walkable.

The Verona Card is ideal for those who enjoy museum visits and would like to do things like climbing up the Torre dei Lamberti to enjoy panoramic views of the old city. However, for those who’d like to save a few Euros, read on to find out where to enjoy panoramic views of Verona without needing to shell out.

Start your day at the Verona Arena

The Arena di Verona was built in 30 AD and is still used for large-scale opera performances. I mean, it’s older than the world-famous Rome Colosseum that was completed almost 50 years later and it’s in ruins. While we were there, they were tearing down the stage of the Verona Opera festival that was held the past weekend. Imagine how wonderful it’ll be to experience an opera in an ancient arena under the stars!

Tickets to enter the Arena di Verona are €10 and are easily purchased at the counter. If you were to pay for one attraction, this is it. As we were travelling during COVID times, crowds were few. Hence, we didn’t need the Verona Pass to skip the lines. I imagine that when travel goes back to normal once again, you might want to consider the priority entrance option.

Walk down the main shopping street

The Verona main shopping street is one of the most luxurious I’ve walked. Luxury shops and cafes lined the cobblestone paths and there were much to see. Getting to the attractions is a breeze with well-placed signs across the shopping district. Grab a gelato while you’re at it. We made a pit stop at Venchi Cioccolato e Gelato for some coffee, and of course, gelato.

Visit the Casa di Giulietta

Casa di Giulietta, or Juliet’s house is supposed to be where Juliet – the other half of Romeo and Juliet- lived. The balcony is also where Romeo and Juliet declared their love for each other. Today, it is one of the most famous attractions in Verona and thousands of people pay a visit to either hang a heart-shaped lock on the wall or rub the bust of the statue of Juliet. Apparently for luck they say. Again, travelling during COVID times, touching Juliet’s statue in any way isn’t allowed.

If you’re interested, you can also pay €6 to visit the Casa di Giuletta museum, where you can stand on the balcony for a photo opportunity, and check out Juliet’s bed. We learnt the hard way that it wasn’t really worth it. However, getting a customised embroidered heart from the shop nearby is, though.

Lunch by the statue of Dante

I discovered that when travelling around Italy, most restaurants open between 11-2.30 pm for lunch, and around 6 pm for dinner. This means if you’re like me, a person who doesn’t adhere to the “typical lunch hours”, it’ll be difficult to find a restaurant that will serve you a late lunch. Luckily, we came across Caffè Dante Bistrot. Located in a quiet Piazza dei Signori, they were open and accepting customers looking to have a late lunch. This despite the information on Google that indicated that they were close. So, here’s another tip: don’t believe everything Google says, especially during COVID times.

We each had a delicious plate of pasta and finished the meal off with a cappuccino. There were workers setting up some kind of a pop-up market that afternoon. However, when we walked by the square the previous night to look at the statue of Dante Alighieri, a famous Italian poet, it was a nice and quiet respite from the tourist crowds.

Tour the Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore or the Catedral de Verona

After lunch, we took a quick walk to the Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore. Constructed between 967 and 1398 AD, its crypt was the place where Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet got married. If you’d like to go inside the church for a tour, the standard ticket costs only €2.50.

Visit Castelvecchio and cross the Castelvecchio bridge

Head towards the Adige river and visit Castelvecchio. Castelvecchio literally translates to Old Castle. The museum is home to a collection of religious paintings and sculptures, alongside military artefacts from the Middle Ages. While you’re there, take a walk down Castelvecchio bridge too. Climb up the stone steps to get a better vantage point of the Adige river, and take some cool pictures while you’re at it too.

Cross the river on the Ponte Pietra

From Castelvecchio, we backtracked into the city and headed west to Ponte Pietra. Yet another bridge with excellent views of the Adige, the Pietra bridge was built in 100 BC. It was destroyed during World War II when the retreating German troops blew up four of the arches. It’s since been rebuilt and completed in 1957.

Take the funicular or hike up to St. Peter’s lookout point

Crossing the Pietra bridge will lead you to the Teatro Romano. It is another ancient Roman theatre in Verona built in the 1st century BC. Unlike the Arena di Verona, the Teatro Romano is all but ruins. We wanted to go in and have a look but never found the entrance. However, we climbed up many flights of stairs and got to St. Peter’s lookout point. We also found out a little too late that there was a funicular that takes you up as well. If you are lazy to walk up flights of stairs and have €1.50 to spare, the funicular is perfect. We trudged up the stairs and down later on, but saw little snippets of local life you will miss if you ride the funicular.

The view from St Peter’s lookout point was magnificent and free! A definite recommendation when you have only 24 hours to spend in Verona.

Head back to town and walk down the side alleys

When you only have 24 hours in Verona, you might want to hit as many tourist spots as you can. Aside from visiting the famous attractions, my favourite thing to do when it’s bright out is exploring the little alleys. You’ll never know what you’ll discover. I walked into a local butcher and came out with a bottle of pepperoncini – Italian chilli oil and cans of anchovies.

People watch at Piazza delle Erbe and enjoy the market

Last but not least on the list of things to do 24 hours in Verona is head down to Piazza delle Erbe or the more touristy Piazza Bra and people watch from one of the restaurants. During the day, the piazza is bustling with people looking at wares and trinkets sold at the market. If you’re looking to buy Verona magnets or other souvenirs, this is the place to go.

Aperitivo at Piazza Erbe

I introduced the concept of Italian Aperitivo in my 24-hour guide to Milan. Most of the restaurants along Piazza Erbe are open all day, so you can most definitely grab a late lunch here. Aperitivos are available after 6 pm. Rest your tired legs and sip a glass of Aperol alongside a bowl of chips, or a platter of snacks. If you’re looking for dinner recommendations, the Risotto all’Amarone is a Veronese speciality. The ingredients are simple: risotto, Amarone della Valpolicella wine (red) and Monte Veronese cheese. It is a very simple dish, packed with delicious flavours.

Photo Credit: La Cucina Italiana

Where to stay in Verona

While this guide is a perfect itinerary for spending 24 hours in Verona, I would truly recommend at least 2 days to properly explore the beautiful old town. We stayed at Air Suite Verona, a two-minute walk away from the entrance of the Old Town. Our stay was comfortable, and the rooms were modern. We also had free breakfast at the sister Hotel Mastino right across the road. There are many hotels within the Old Town walls too if you like to stay in the centre of the action.

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