In Fair Verona, Where We Lay Our Scene…
The immortal opening lines of Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet” place the happenings squarely in Verona, Italy. Verona is a small city located an hour outside of Venice in the northeastern region of Italy known as Veneto. It is the setting for one of the greatest tragedies ever to grace the stage, written by the incomparable playwright, William Shakespeare. However, there is a lot more to Verona than a pair of star-crossed lovers. There are many interesting things to see and do in Verona Italy.
Things to Do in Verona Italy – Visit the Verona Arena – A Roman Amphitheater
During the First Century BCE, Verona was captured and ruled by the Roman Empire. During that time, the Arena was built in the style of the Colosseum in Rome.
The Arena is a huge amphitheater, and while the exterior ring is showing signs of its age and damage suffered during an earthquake in 1117, the interior is intact and still functions today. It is the third-largest surviving amphitheater in the world from that period and certainly among the things to see in Verona, Italy.
Things to See in Verona Italy – Castel San Pietro
Above the Verona Arena stands a hill with steps leading up it to the Castel San Pietro, or, St. Peter’s Castle.
Built during Austria’s left bank occupation as a barracks, it is not currently open for public use; however, the views from its hill offer a breathtaking opportunity to see all of Verona laid out below.
The sunsets there are especially romantic, and do not cost a dime.
Built of red brick, Castelvecchio is a 14th-century fortified castle that is situated along the Adige river. It is home to Verona’s art museum and the bulk of the primary castle buildings are used to house an outstanding collection of medieval sculptures and paintings spanning the Renaissance. Castelvecchio provides a wonderful opportunity to explore its ramparts and fortifications. Castelvecchio is only one of Verona’s many opportunities to observe how the art of Western Europe evolved and changed from the late Medieval period into the early part of the Renaissance. There are also a good number of churches dating to the 12th century; and art museums, as well. A must-see for the art lover visiting Verona.
Basilica of St. Zeno
Just a fifteen-minute stroll from Castelvecchio is the gorgeous church that is dedicated to the patron saint of Verona, Zeno. In 363, Zeno, an enthusiastic North African fisherman, became Bishop of Verona, Italy. The church built to honor him houses his atmospheric tomb in the undercroft. A statue of the grinning saint fully clad in traditional robes and sporting a golden fish caught on a fishing rod, also serves to commemorate Zeno. The church, built following the earthquake that damaged the Arena in 1117, has been a focal point for European pilgrims for several hundred years and boasts richly preserved artwork and history, possibly the best available to see in Verona.
Things to See in Verona Italy – Juliet’s House – Casa di Giulietta
Any discussion of Verona, Italy is not complete if it does not include information about one of the most popular tourist destinations in Verona; the balcony that belonged to Juliet, where she and her Romeo professed their love for one another. When in Verona, a visit the balcony area must be included in your list of things to see and do in fair Verona, Italy. In truth, the balcony was a 1936 addition and the house has no real connection with the play written by Shakespeare.
The love-struck tourists that flock to the tiny courtyard to leave letters and mementos for Juliet do not know this, or do not care; graffiti covers every available surface and the wall beneath her balcony has an ever-changing, endless supply of love letters left there by those touched by the power and tragedy of Shakespeare’s pair of young lovers. The house is open for tours, but contains little aside from a few rescued Renaissance frescoes and the bed that was used in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film adaptation of the famous play.