Verona’s historic core is surprisingly not very small, with major attractions within walkable but not negligible distance from each other. Nonetheless, you would be well served to take those walks.
You might start at the central large Piazza delle Erbe ♥♥♥, adorned with a fountain and a couple of monuments and surrounded by beautiful buildings. Nearby Piazza dei Signori ♥♥ is somewhat more “closed up”, but the palaces around it are all worth an exterior look.
From this square, you can enter Torre dei Lamberti ♥♥♥ which affords fantastic views of the city from above. Most of the way up can be made by elevator for those less athletically-inclined.
There are several Romeo and Juliet-inspired sights in Verona, of which we only saw one, Juliet’s Balcony, located a block away from Piazza delle Erbe. The balcony dates from the first half of 20th century which removes any possibility of it being actually related to Shakespearean story. But it is a very popular sight, with dozens of people occupying the small courtyard in front of it. You can also get a tour of the house to which the balcony belongs. We did not go inside and did not find the courtyard or the balcony any exceptional or romantic. Your mileage may vary.
Piazza Bra ♥♥♥ is another major square in town, irregular-shaped, very open, with the Arena in one “corner”, a small park with Alps fountain ♥ taking up part of its space, and nice palazzi on the perimeter.
The Arena ♥♥♥ is utterly remarkable, the second largest such structure (after the Coliseum in Rome) to remain from ancient times. Taking in an opera performance ♥♥♥ at the Arena is a veritable highlight of any visit to Verona. If you are a true opera lover, get expensive tickets in the “orchestra”. If you only want to enjoy the atmosphere, get the cheapest tickets, enter the Arena at least an hour before the start of the performance, rent – or buy to keep as souvenirs – seat cushions, and commandeer space on the upper stone galleries. You will not hear music that well from up there and will be struggling to discern words in every aria, but you may still be able to enjoy the choreography of the performance. Most importantly, you will have a good perspective of the entire arena, which becomes quite magical with the customary candle lighting at the beginning of the performance. If your appreciation of opera is limited on most occasions, you can leave after the first act. Your hand will be stamped for re-entry, if you choose so.
Castelvecchio ♥ has some interesting architectural features worth exploring and the museum inside has an ok painting collection, mostly of the religious kind, with a limited selection of Old Masters. The adjoining Ponte Scaligero ♥♥♥ is exquisite.
A few other bridges across River Adige are worth a look, among them Ponte Vittoria ♥ with equine statues and the pedestrian Ponte Pietra ♥.
Four major churches in Verona can be visited on a single access ticket. We managed to visit three: Duomo ♥♥ is very impressive in an understated way, with lots of frescoes and paintings; Sant’Anastasia ♥♥ does not look anything but austere from the outside, but contains beautiful painted ceilings and partial frescoes; San Fermo ♥ is slightly less impressive, but has a lower church dating from Roman times. The fourth grand church, San Zeno Maggiore, ended up too much out of our walking route to visit, which we will need to rectify eventually.
Giardino Giusti ♥ is slightly off the beaten path. It is a reasonably sized garden marrying formal with semi-wild, not exactly awesome but serene and pleasant. There is a small labyrinth that takes 10-15 minutes to navigate. The lower part of the garden is mostly flat, the upper part runs up the steep hill, with partial views over the town.
There are several large parking lots at the edge of historic core. Cittadella, on the eponymous square, is a large underground parking just a few minutes away from Piazza Bra and the Arena.
Places to Eat
All places last visited in summer of 2014.
Osteria da Ugo ♥♥♥ is located on a side street not far from the historic centre. No reservation needed, good service, excellent food. We tried chicken pate, goose breast carpaccio with salad for appetizers, fusilli with goose ragu and mushrooms, duck confit with porcini mushrooms for main courses, and panna cotta and pine-nut custard cake for dessert. All were excellent. Our damage: €86 for two, with a bottle of wine.
Ristorante Liston ♥ sits on a pedestrian street not far from Piazza Bra. Gnocchi ai porcini impressed, and the selection from extensive pizza menu did not disappoint. Overall menu is somewhat too extensive and suggests a possible tourist trap, but it was not noticeable in our experience. People-watching is simply great. Our damage: €38 for lunch for two with half-liter of house wine.
La Vecia Mescola ♥ provided for a mixed experience. It is located not far from the Arena on a quiet side street. The ambiance is great and the service is very nice. Octopus salad for appetizer was so unique and fantastic that we expected our meal to be unparalleled. Unfortunately, both main courses came too salty. Late at night on a Saturday, I am willing to write it off on chef being tired, but it did spoil the impression. Good panna cotta for dessert slightly rectified the matters. Our damage: €78 for two with a bottle of wine.
B&B Mela ♥♥ (TripAdvisor page) is a nice apartment at the edge of historic area on Via Filippini. Located on the ground floor, it consists of a good size room with breakfast nook and a step-down relatively spacious bathroom. Comfortable queen-size bed and plenty of space. Amenities include A/C, wi-fi, extra fold-out bed, coffee machine, microwave, fridge. Breakfast is limited and pre-packaged but adequate. Town center is within 10 minutes walk. Last stay: 2014.