Fair Verona. The romantic setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and all round beautiful city in northern Italy. Somehow I knew I would fall in love with this picturesque town and I was absolutely right, it’s impossible not to. Every corner you turn brings another wonder, something to gaze in at and enjoy or that makes you gasp. Its winding streets weave through the town, Roman remains abound and it feels like there’s at least one gelateria on every street. It’s the perfect location for a day trip from Milan or Venice but having sampled a taste of what Verona has to offer I’ve bookmarked it for a longer stay. I think it could be my favourite Italian city ever.
We visited Verona with children in spring when there were remarkably less tourists than there would have been in summer and with a light breeze it felt like the perfect place to shake off any last remnants of winter. We started out climbing the tall steps to the top of the 12th century Lamberti Tower (Torre dei Lamberti) which stands tall and proud just off the Palazzo della Ragione.
You can take a lift or climb the steps which wind up to the bell tower, and gazing up it looks like there’s an eye staring right back at you!
We decided not to walk the whole way and the creaky old lift took us (breath held, eyes closed, hoping it wouldn’t break down) two-thirds of the way up and then we climbed the rest for views across the terracotta tiled rooftops of Verona. It’s a beautiful sight, watching people going about their day-to-day lives in the piazzas below and listening to the gentle church bells ringing on distant hillsides.
We couldn’t resist taking the path of Shakespeare’s mythical start-crossed lovers a little and headed to Juliet’s balcony, a modern construction on a beautiful old Veronese building where the children loved standing on the balcony itself and looking down on the crowds below. Even though we were all aware of the fictional nature of the tale it felt strangely special to be in this area, filled with others seeking out the romance of the Shakespearean tales.
And then we were out in real Verona which is even more bewitching with striped red brick and white churches standing side by side with ancient statues and medieval streets. We stopped for a gelato which was so delicious and creamy and far less expensive than those we’ve found in Venice and Florence. It was the perfect treat after all of the walking.
One of our favourite parts of the city was wandering alongside the Adige River with the rush of water tumbling past. We walked across the beautiful Ponte Pietra which felt so historic – the children pointing out the Roman writing etched into the stone.
And then we headed down the beautiful streets and suddenly arrived in the large square of Piazza Bra with the Roman Arena standing grand and unexpectedly large to the side of us. The Arena was built in the 1st Century BC and is actually older than the Colosseum in Rome. It also feels more accessible than its more famous counterpart. We climbed down below and were the only ones running around the long, dark hallways that curled beneath the main stage, imagining the roar of the crowds above as the darkness surrounded us. It was very atmospheric and caught the children’s imaginations.
And we climbed up the stone Roman steps, allowing the sun to hit our faces again and sat on the big cold seats, imagining the visitors of thousands of years ago who would have done the same. It’s fantastic that this is still a real arena, being used for concerts and plays throughout the summer and I would love to return some time to see an opera being performed here.
We stayed in the centre of the old town at the Palazzo Victoria which is a 14th century building, bold and beautiful like many others lining the local streets. It was a great location and I definitely recommend a stay in the centre – eschew the big out-of-town hotels if you can to stay as locals would have for hundreds of years.
Verona is a wonderful city and Verona with children is even more fun. It may have been the setting for Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers but the romance and intrigue of this beautiful Italian city is very real. We can’t wait to return.
We visited Verona as part of our trip to Northern Italy with children and you can watch our video of our time here below:
We used a Verona Card for access to the main sights which is much recommended – you can buy them for 24 or 48 hours and they allow entry into many of the key places in Verona as free bus travel across the city.We would like to thank Tourism Verona for help with our trip.