When I studied abroad in Italy, I had a few choices. At UGA there are many programs to pick from across the globe, and 2 in Italy itself. I also looked at programs at other schools, which included cities like Florence and Venice. I ultimately settled on Verona for a few reasons. First, I wanted to go with students that also attended UGA. Second, I liked the class offering and how it fit into my selected major. I ended up spending almost four months in Verona and I still think it was one of the best decisions I made in college.
Verona often gets overlooked for the bigger attractions in Italy - Florence, Venice, Rome, etc. I get it - visiting a foreign country usually doesn’t come with a four month timeline. Therefore, most visitors have to be pretty selective about where they want to go. If I talk to anyone that mentions they’re headed to Italy I make a point to highly suggest stopping in Verona. Why? Here are a few reasons:
Small Town Charm
“In fair Verona” you get the feel of a small Italian city while still experiencing the perks of a bigger city like Florence or Rome. While the main city is easily traversable by foot, you’ll also encounter large attractions (like the arena!), while steps away from some of the best gelato, pasta and wine you can imagine. It’s easy to get lost in the side streets of Verona, and I highly recommend doing so! Because it’s a smaller city you’ll have the time to wander. When I visited Rome I felt pretty overwhelmed by my “must see” list since I only had 3 full days. I love visiting smaller cities and spending time wandering; you truly get a feel for the way of life!
I already mentioned the arena in Verona, which is one of the most in tact arenas in Europe. Located in the Piazza Bra, the Arena di Verona hosts a variety of concerts and events. Piazza Bra is also a historical landmark, as is Piazza delle Erbe. They’re very close together, which makes sightseeing in the city relatively easy.
A quick walk from Piazza delle Erbe lies the Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s House). Verona is the home of Romeo and Juliet, the fated lovers in one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. While visiting Juliet’s house, you can take a tour of Juliet’s home, stand on the balcony, and rub a statue of Juliet for good luck. (Side note: watch Letters to Juliet for great shots of Verona!)t
The Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore is another must see in Verona. While portions of the basilica date back to the 4th century, most of the church was completed in the 11th and 12th centuries and features a Romanesque style that inspired many churches in the area. Be sure to stop and enjoy the bronze doors at the front of the basilica, which feature 48 scenes from the Bible and dates back to the 11th century.
Castelvecchio is another must see in Verona. You can take a tour of the castle, which sits along the incredibly beautiful Adige river. Built in the 14th century, the fortress features seven towers, a castle keep, and four separate buildings. Today, the fortress is home to an art museum, which is on view to visitors daily.
Located along the Corso Porta Borsari, the Porta Borsari is the ancient Roman gate that once marked the Southern entrance into the city. The Porta Borsari is a beautiful indicator of how ancient ruins are incorporated into the architecture throughout the city. If you’re looking for some shopping in Verona, Porta Borsari is home to a number of beautiful boutiques!
Two other main attractions not to miss include the Duomo of Verona and the Arche Scaligeri. I’d also recommend making the trip to Piazzale Castel San Pietro for a great view of the city! Check out Walks of Italy for more information on most of the historical landmarks listed above!
Verona is ideally situated in northern Italy. It is a short distance from both Milan and Venice, making it a great place to stop en route to a larger city. When I was in Verona I was lucky enough to make a few weekend trips, but I also made many day trips to cities nearby. While I didn’t make it to Milan, I did go to Venice twice for day trips. I’ll go into my day trips from Verona in more detail on Friday, but it’s important to note how great Verona’s location is for travelers. If you’re spending time in northern Italy, or if you have a day to spare during a trip to Milan or Venice, I’d highly recommend making time for Verona! Verona is also a quick train ride from Florence, so it is easily accessible from many larger cities in Italy.
While it’s been 7 years since I was last in Italy, I’m now itching to return. There are a few spots I didn’t get to that I'd really like to see, including Cinque Terre and Milan. A few years ago I spent some time in the French Riviera, and it had me thinking about how fun a trip to the Italian Riviera would be. Hopefully I can make it back to Italy in the future!