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The balcony of 'Juliet's House' in Verona

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Verona
Romeo & Juliet's home town

Verona - the Arena and Piazza Bra (c) Fototeca ENIT / Vito Arcomano

Verona - Ponte Scaligero (c) Fototeca ENIT / Vito Arcomano


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This stylish riverside city is just right for romance. ‘Fair Verona’ is the exquisitely elegant little town where William Shakespeare set one of the most romantic stories ever told.
  Visitors tend to make a bee-line for "Juliet’s House", but there are any number of other pretty balconies in Verona’s historic centre where tragic Juliet might have stood waiting for her Romeo.
  For Italians (and opera-lovers everywhere), Verona is best known for a great annual opera festival, with a summer season of prestigious performances staged in the open air in the Roman arena since 1913.
  The narrow, pedestrianised main shopping street and handsome piazzas are paved with pink and white marble. All around are grand mansions and little fortified palaces, chic tempting shops, street entertainers and outdoor café tables.
  Juliet’s story was very sad, but for today’s visitors – whether friends or lovers, newlyweds or anyone with something to celebrate – this fairytale town almost guarantees a happy ending.


 Get the feel

It can be hard to remember that Romeo and Juliet didn't exist, and that Shakespeare didn't know Verona (although the story predates Shakespeare's play, and was originally Italian). A delightful courtyard dwelling has been selected as Juliet's House, a front balcony added to it, and crowds gather to admire it as if the story were true.
  Yet Verona greatly rewards a visit even if you have no interest in Shakespeare's famous tragedy. It's a handsome, vibrant medieval town of cobbled lanes, stylish shops, good restaurants and a remarkable Roman arena. 

 What, why, where

A grandiose, beautifully preserved Roman, medieval and Renaissance city, Verona spans the river Adige in productive farmland on a plain at the foot of the Alps. Lake Garda and the Valpolicella wine country are nearby.
 
The old heart of the city, contained within ancient walls and historically protected by a great curve of the river, is a busy area of narrow shopping streets and fine Renaissance architecture.

 Getting started

The main tourist office is in Piazza Bra (Mon-Sat 9-7, Sun 9-3). There's another office at Verona airport.
  Pick up a Verona Welcome Card from shops, museums and attractions or the tourist office. This gives discounts at most museums and monuments in Verona.
www.tourism.verona.it

 Compass points

Airport shuttle buses run to the main railway station, Verona Porta Nuova. A wide boulevard, Corso Porta Nuova, runs from the railway station to the city centre - it's a 15 minute walk or a short bus ride.
  The Corso arrives at the vast Piazza Bra, the city's main square, with gardens and restaurants curved alongside a Roman arena. Hundreds of people come here each evening to stroll in the pleasant balmy air.
  Narrow streets north and west of the Piazza lead into the old quarter. Since Roman times, the locals’ favourite meeting place in Verona has been the long, narrow almond-shaped Piazza del Erbe, in the middle of the old quarter.

 Getting around

AMT run the city's public bus system, which extends throughout the Verona region.
  Shuttle buses connect the airport to Verona railway station, and you may wish to catch another bus from there into the heart of the city.
  The walled heart of the old city is small enough to explore on foot.
www.amt.it

 Entertainment and nightlife

After dinner, stroll into the lanes of the riverside Sottoriva area where there are lively bars with music. Choose between an enoteca (wine bar) and a birreria (beer tavern). For late-night discos and clubs look around Piazza San Zeno, west of Castelvecchio.

 Eat and drink in Verona

Numerous atmospheric restaurants in Verona city centre - in all the squares and many of the back streets - serve traditional regional dishes while for something cheaper, there are dozens of pizzerias. Most of the bars around Piazza Erbe and Piazza Bra also serve meals.
  Tuck in to Verona’s hearty specialities, like Rissotto alla Marone – that’s rice cooked in strong local Marone red wine. Freshly made tortellini pasta filled with cheese, vegetables or meat is delicious too. Numerous fish dishes include the tangy sardine dish Sarde in Saor served as a starter. Other favourite local rib-liners include polenta and gnocchi. For decent local wine, choose crisp white Soave or rich red Valpolicella Classico, or ask the waiter to advise on the many other wines rarely seen outside this region.

 Hotels in Verona

By far the best place to stay in Verona is within the historic city centre. It has dozens of attractive small hotels of character. For lower prices, look outside the historic centre, especially in the avenues west of the arena, such as Corso Porta Nuova, leading to the railway station.

My favourite hotels in Verona:

Hotel Accademia, a grandly comfortable 4-star perfectly placed on Via Mazzini, main shopping street of the medieval quarter.
www.hotelaccademiaverona.it


Hotel Palazzo Victoria, stylish and unusual interiors and top-quality comforts in a superbly restored 15th-century mansion just by the Borsari gate in the medieval heart of town. 
http://palazzovictoria.com/

 Flights to Verona

Flight time to Verona from London and regional UK airports is around 2h15m.
Flights to Verona land at Verona Villafranca international airport "Valerio Catullo".
Transfer shuttle - The airport is about 12 km from the city. For transfers from the airport into central Verona, a shuttle bus runs to Verona railway station every 20 minutes.
www.aeroportoverona.it.

 Must-see

 Juliet's House (Casa di Giulietta) 
Step through an archway into the little cobbled courtyard of a Gothic house. There on the wall is the tiny balcony where, the municipality of Verona would have you believe, Juliet stood and sighed ‘Wherefore art thou, Romeo?’
 
Even though she never really existed, there’s a statue of Juliet by the door – stroke her right breast to be lucky in love. For €6, you may go up and stand on the balcony yourself.
23 Via Cappello.

 Roman Arena
Still in constant use for concerts and shows, Verona’s magnificent 2000-year-old arena, built of huge stone blocks, was one of the biggest in the Roman empire. From the top there are terrific views over the town and surrounding hills. Verona has other Roman remains, including a theatre on the other side of the river.

 Roman Theatre
Cross the Adige river on the old Pietra bridge on the north side of the old town to reach the remarkably extensive ruins of Verona's Roman theatre. Like the arena, it still provides the setting for frequent outdoor performances. Rising behind the theatre is the museum, with a remarkable collection of finds, mainly sculpture, found here. Opening onto a high terrace, the museum also gives incomparable views over the town.

 Ponte Scaligero
This heavily fortified medieval bridge spans the river Adige, its cobbled footway running between high brick walls with narrow look-out holes. It connects to the Castelvecchio, a 14th-century brick castle that now contains Verona’s main art museum, mainly displaying 15th-century religious works.

 The churches
Verona has many impressive old churches, such as the grandiose Duomo (cathedral) in striped red brick and white stone, and fascinating St Zeno church, with its elaborately decorated ceiling, marble floor, arcaded crypt and peaceful cloisters. The largest church, and arguably the most beautiful, is St Anastasia.

 Venice
Another city – yet it's one of Verona's leading attractions. Venice is just 1˝ hours away by train, and Verona makes the ideal base for a day-trip to this amazing car-free city of waterways, palaces and quiet lanes. You arrive at Venice train station, right beside the main Grand Canal, with vaporetti (water buses) going straight to St Mark’s Square.

 Buy it

Bacli di Giulietta (“Juliet’s Kisses”) – Look in pasticceria (pastry shops) for these delectable soft biscuits with creamy filling.
Luxury leather – Lots of stores sell smart high-quality Italian handbags, elegant wallets and stylish Italian ladies’ shoes.
Fashions – Narrow main shopping streets Via Mazzini and Corso Porta Borsari are lined with designer stores, fabulous lingerie boutiques and brilliant clothes shops. 
Fine foods – If you love gourmet cooking, take home quality oils, wines, pasta and other local products, for example from Di Rossi in Corso Porta Borsari.

 In the Know

The locals’ traditional tipple is a glass of the sparkling dry white wine,  Prosecco, usually served with something to nibble.
Book well ahead, especially for a summer visit.
Get to Juliet's balcony early in the morning as the little courtyard beneath it gets crammed.
Shops and sights are mainly open on Sunday but closed on Monday mornings.

 Best time to visit

Spring, early summer and autumn are enjoyable, mainly sunny, with temperatures in the mid 70s.
Winter can be cloudy, rainy and cold, but there's a bright, festive atmosphere throughout December.
High summer can be hot and humid, and the town fills up with crowds of visitors who come to hear opera in the Roman arena. 

 Events and festivals

Festival Lirico (Opera Festival)
23 June - 27 August 2017

Verona is famous for this world-class summertime open-air opera festival, started more than a century ago. The performances take place in the spectacular setting of the 2000-year-old Roman arena. If you love a big stage show, and you love opera at its grandest, this makes an extra special treat.
  The 2017 programme opens with Nabucco, and also includes Rigoletto, Madame Butterfly, Tosca and of course Aida, which always closes the festival. In addition there will be a gala performance by Plácido Domingo on 21 July, and a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony on 15 August.
  Book at once to be sure of getting the best seats. For all programme details and bookings, see the arena’s opera festival website.

 Verona basics

Where is Verona?
Verona is in north-west Italy close to the Italian Lakes and about an hour from Venice.
International phone dialling code:
00 372 (+ drop initial 0 from local number)
Time zone:
GMT/BST + 1 hours.
Money:
Euro (€)
.


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Verona
Revised and updated January 2017.
All rights reserved worldwide.
Text © Focus Guides and Andrew Sanger.
Photographs by Vito Arcomano are © Fototeca ENIT, used with permission.
Permission to use: This guide may be freely PRINTED ONLY for personal non-commercial use. Unless a LICENCE has been obtained it may not, in whole or in part, be COPIED nor used for any COMMERCIAL purpose.
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