Ahhh, Venice, Italy. A town known for its colorful buildings and many waterways that can only be navigated by Gondolas. While it may be beautiful, Venice is also known to be an incredibly over crowded town that is full of noisy and overbearing tourists. So crowded that recently, the Italian government has placed an entrance fee for visitors. However Venice may be a top destination for a bucket list, nearby Verona has a lot of the same kind of charm, possibly more. Despite being only a 90 minute train ride away, most people don’t even think to see Verona when visiting Italy. Here are six reasons you should skip Venice, and visit Verona instead.
1. Venice Is Not The Only Place Surrounded By Water
Venice is unique because of its canals, but Verona is surrounded by water as well. The city itself forms a small peninsula upon the Adige River. This allows locals and visitors the opportunity to enjoy many activities along the river banks. Walking paths have been constructed along the river for some fresh air and views.
The small city is also surrounded by bridges, many of which are built with a Medieval structure. Although a few of the bridges were destroyed from bombings during World War II, they have been rebuilt as replicas of their original structure. Builders made sure to use artifacts found in the surrounding river as a way to commemorate the originals. A walk across some of the bridges is a must with Ponte Pietra at the top of the list. This pedestrian bridge is the oldest in Verona, completed back in 100 BC.
2. Venetian Style
The style is well known, and everyone wants a picture of it. Many people travel to Venice to behold the Medieval and Gothic styled architecture, but have no clue that there other places through out the region influenced by the Venetians. Verona contains an abundant amount of Venetian and Romanesque architecture though out the city, and it is easy to get lost in the beauty.
Long and silent pathways take you through arches and amongst colorful buildings. Piazzas are open to the air and put on a display of Romanesque monuments. Gothic Cathedrals tower overhead and command the skies as their stained glass windows twinkle in the sunlight.
The roofs of buildings overhead are etched in paintings and Roman symbols, so don’t forget to look up. The town maintains a very well preserved Roman Empire vibe to it and is worth exploring.
3. The Streets Are Empty
While most cities in Italy are often overcrowded, especially in the summer, Verona feels wide open. Because most people typically visit the more bustling cities of Venice, Rome, Milan, Florence and Naples, Verona is left practically untouched. This gives you the opportunity to explore the town at your leisure without having to fight for walking space in the tight streets.
Nearby street to the center of Verona. One of the few streets with any kind of crowd. The town center and La Casa di Giulietta are the only two places in Verona that truly become crowded. Even then, the crowds are nothing compared to other cities in Italy.
Always make sure to walk down the side streets. As mentioned before, the architecture is beautiful and the best way to enjoy the sights are by getting lost within them. With less crowds, there is a better potential to truly enjoy some Romanesque architecture.
Empty sidewalks take you through a plethora of colorful buildings and lead you to plenty of delicious restaurants.The city itself is very clean and so well maintained that I honestly feel that you could eat pizza off of the streets
4. Hill Top Views
I am a sucker for finding a good panoramic view of a city, and that is hard to come by in neighboring Venice. Verona however, is surrounded by rolling hills. This gives visitors the opportunity to climb to the top of said hills, and look down upon the city from a panoramic standpoint. Verona is very similar to Florence with its rustic coloring and tall Cathedrals dominating the scene.
The best spot to view Verona is from Castel San Pietro. The views from here are gorgeous as you can truly enjoy a panorama of the city that displays its small peninsula. The view point is easy walking distance from the town center, but be prepared to walk up some steps. Although hot and sweaty in the summer, this gives you the perfect opportunity to walk off some pizza or gelato.
The best part about the view is the silence. As Verona is one of the more quiet cities in Italy, the overlook is as well. You will not have to fight for a spot to enjoy the scenery, even at the peak of tourist season.
5. Romance Is Alive
Verona is home to the most famous star crossed lovers of all time, Romeo and Juliet. William Shakespeare set the stage for his famous romantic tragedy in Verona, and the influence is everywhere. Verona is undoubtedly one of the more romantic places in Italy, a country that is home to the likes of Rome, Positano and Capri.
The Balcony at La Casa di Giulietta is one of the more popular attractions in the entire city and one that brings a large majority of tourists. While traveling through Verona, a visit to La Casa di Giulietta is essential. You can write a love letter to Juliet yourself, or take a walk onto the balcony from the famous, “Romeo, Romeo. Wherefore art though Romeo” scene. Just keep in mind that if you walk onto the balcony, you will have a good amount of people taking pictures of you. I guess that’s kind of cool if you want to be someone else’s Instagram model.
Another common activity at La Casa di Giulietta is leaving a love lock amongst one of the fences. This is completed with the hopes of being with your significant other forever. I saw a lot of love locks that included dog names, I don’t blame them.
Make sure to take a picture with the statue of Juliet before leaving and don’t forget to grab one of her boobs! Groping her will only bring you the luck of eternal love.
6. Enjoy Performances In An Ancient Roman Setting
Perhaps the most prized possession of Verona, The Arena sits at the forefront of Piazza Bra. It is impossible to miss as the city practically revolves around it. It is no question that The Arena drives a lot of the tourism in Verona as the surrounding Piazza is the most busy place in town. However, unlike its counterpart and the much bigger Colosseum in Rome, you will not have to feel combative to enjoy the sights.
This small colosseum was built back in 30 AD and is the best preserved structure of its kind. It is not only famous for its ancient structure, but for the amount of concerts it holds yearly. The venue has become most popular for weekly Opera performances that drive tourists crazy for tickets.
In addition to being the home to some of the World’s best Opera, The Arena has played host to many other big time musicians such as Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen. I wouldn’t mind attending an Italian Opera performance in a 2,000 year old venue, how about you?
Verona is one of the “popular” cities in Italy that you can visit and not fight the crowds. It is full of romantic charm and a Medieval atmosphere. Whether you’re visiting to feel up a statue of a fictional character or attend an Opera in an ancient setting, Verona has plenty to do and see. Don’t forget to make a stop in Verona on your next trip to Italy!