Europe · Travel

Romance & Ruins – How to Spend One Day in Verona, Italy

Spread the love

Verona is often found on the list of hidden European gems, which is nuts! Verona’s compact centre is chock full of interesting ancient sites, excellent Italian eateries, and layers of history. If you only have a day to Verona, you will still be able to soak up oodles of charm as you explore the cobblestoned Veronese streets. This is your perfect way to spend one day in Verona, Italy.

This post may contain sponsored content or affiliate links that help support the blog. All opinions are our own.

The Perfect Way to Spend One Day in Verona, Italy

Cafe Pasticceria Barini

A traditional Veronese breakfast involves one very small, very strong coffee and some sort of pastry. Make your first stop Cafe Bar Pasticceria Barini. The stone counters and wooden walls are beautifully mid-century and have a perfect coffee shop vibe. This is not the spot to sit and savour a long latte (well, you could but we have places to be). Instead, pick up your €1 caffe, dump in some sugar if necessary, and perch on the edge as you slam it down. You could also try a risini, a pastry stuffed with sweet rice. Its a carb-on-carb bomb that, combined with an espresso, is just the energy boost you need for a long day of sightseeing.

I Portoni della Brà and Piazza Bra

Portoni della Brà, a historic gateway in the heart of Verona, leads you through to Piazza Bra, the largest square in the city. The battlement-style top gives a hint to its previous life (it was built in 1480) as a link between Castelvecchio and the Citadel.

Surrounded by the renowned Verona Arena, Gran Guardia, and Palazzo Barbieri, Piazza Brà is the centre of life when the sun is out. One end is lined with restaurants (some local…and a Hard Rock Cafe). You’ll street performers, friends strolling through and people running past to catch the busses that run past the bottom end of the square. From here, for a good few hour, you are going to be on car free streets which is so nice and relaxing.

Arena di Verona

Rome’s Colosseum may get all the press but Verona’s Arena is more complete. has been wonderfully restored and has a magnificent opera festival every summer. Arena di Verona dates back to 30 A.D. so plan your trip right and you could be there for the 2000th anniversary. The added seating and modernisations are sympathetic to the bones of the building so whether you visit in the morning as a tourist as we suggest, or you come to a concert in the evening, you will get a real sense of the millennia of entertainment performed here.

These days there will only be 22,000 spectators inside but it used to fit up to 30,000. Imagine the whole place baying for blood. From June to September there is a large opera festival and it is renowned as being one of the best in the world. If you do attend, get one of the cheaper marble seats but remember to bring a cushion as those three hours performances can be murder on the bottom!

We suggest you start your day here and it’s best to have your tickets booked in advance. You can find tickets HERE and pick your entry time as the first slot of the day.

Via Mazzini & Corso Porta Basari

When you leave the Arena, turn right up the pedestrianised shopping street Via Mazzini. This popular retail thoroughfare plays host to designer brands and high-street favourites alike. You could do a little shopping (I needed to buy some tights here when I ripped mine) but that is not the main reason to traverse this street. A couple of blocks up is the United Colors of Benetton shop. Head inside and down the stairs to menswear for a little slice of Roman history. Down here, you will see the floor of a 1st-century villa, with its 2nd-century renovated floor tiles.

Take a left at Via Valerio Catullo until you reach Corso Porta Basari. Here you can see another one of the city’s gates. This white limestone Roman gate was renovated in  265 AD and that is the facade you see today. From here, head away from the gate, all the way until the passageway emerges into Piazza delle Erbe.

Piazza delle Erbe & Piazza dei Signori

If shopping in a market is more your speed then you’ll love Piazza delle Erbe. In the centre of this buzzy square are market stalls selling everything from backpacker trousers to elegant silk handkerchiefs, to fresh flowers and overpriced soft drinks. Around the edge of the square are plenty of restaurants and cafe bars serving Aperols to those who want to enjoy some people-watching. The centerpiece of the square is the ornate Madonna Verona Fountain but don’t miss the other statue of note. Italian poet Berto Barbarani stands watch over the square. Barbarani was a local boy and wrote often in the Veronese dialect about the city and its people.

Pass through the arch with the whalebone. No, nobody knows why it is there but it may have been there for over 500 years. Take in the gorgeous palatial architecture of Piazza dei Signori with its arches and loggias. The statue in the centre of the square, placed here in the 1860s, is of the poet Dante (of inferno fame).

Torre Dei Lamberti

Torre dei Lamberti, dates back to the 12th century, stands at 84m and is still Verona’s tallest building. The clock tower can be climbed but involves 368 steps and a whole lot of puff. For this reason, most people opt to take the lift which is considerably easier. The views from here are beautiful. You can see across the roofs of Verona and into the countryside beyond. There are two huge bells in the tower. The first, Marangona was rung to alert the city to fires and the hours of the day. The other, larger, Rengo was rung to bring together the city council or to prepare the city for battle. It’s unlikely there will be an imminent attack during your visit but you could take earplugs if you’re nervous!

Locandina Cappello

This is a nice spot for a light lunch and it is right opposite our next stop. Unusually for restaurants right on the tourist trail, it has fresh, tasty food. For a nice snacky lunch, order from the selection of tartines and crostinis. These little canapes are similar to Venetian Cicchetti but are a little smaller. Most are one or two bites but packed with simple, delicious flavours. Of course, they do a huge selection of other big dishes including yummy pasta, meat-laden mains and actually, a fair amount of great seafood. (See if you can find something with a side of their perfect cheesy polenta because it is comfort food perfection.

Juliet’s House

Varona will be inextricably linked to Shakespeare in many a mind, and Romeo & Juliet in particular. Although it is mostly a fictional story, it seems to come from a grain of truth and as it is wont to do, myth will blend with fact and over time become one. There are a few spots in Verona that will forever be “the actual Juliet’s house” and “the actual Romeo’s house”. That is why the Capulet’s mansion is a super popular sight in Verona. Now, this may not be Juliet’s actual balcony…but it is because we have all said so.

Head into the courtyard and pay a quick visit to the Juliet statue. People like to rub her right breast for good luck in love so don’t be alarmed that she seems to be getting a good old group. They have actually had to replace the statue as it was getting so damaged on one side. There is also a wall covered in love locks (at least they aren’t weighing a bridge down) and a postbox so you can write to Juliet for some romantic advice.

You can see the famous balcony from below and stand upon it. You probably won’t have time for a full soliloquy as there is normally quite a large queue behind you. Upstairs in the Capulet mansion, you’ll see some gorgeous original wall designs and some more Romeo and Juliet paraphernalia.

We highly recommend getting your tickets in advance online. Even with the Verona Card, you need to book a time slot to visit.

Church of Sant’Anastasia

The Church of Sant’Anastasia is a Gothic church that dates back to the 13th century. It took about 150 years to build and it still stands as the largest church in Verona. On entering, you will surely be impressed by the soaring vaulted ceilings. The church’s highlight has to be the incredible Pisanello altarpiece, a masterpiece of Renaissance art. However, there are some other super details to look out for. The hunchback font bearers are reminiscent of Pompeii victims and the side chapels have beautiful altars and frescoes to explore.

Ponte Pietra

Make your way block over to the river and head around until you reach Ponte Pietra, the Stone Bridge. Unbeliably the bridge has been standing here since 100 BC. Well, it had been here for 2000 years until WWII when it was blown apart by retreating German troops. Thankfully, it was rebuilt using the original materials.

Sometimes, in summer, you will see people floating beneath it in a popular pastime. Rafting along the Adige has become a very popular way to have fun and see the city.

Colle San Pietro

The Castillo San Pietro Funicular takes just over one minute to run 159m to the top of 55m high Colle San Pietro (also called Monte Gallo). At Just €2 for a return trip, it’s a great way to enjoy lovely views on the way up and saves the walk. Yes, it is possible to walk, but you’ve had a long day so enjoy the ride. At the top is cafe bar Re Teodorico, a nice spot to stop and sip an Aperol or Negroni spritz, especially if it is a warm evening. The view is great but the service isn’t so order at the bar and grab any seats you can.

From here, make your way to Castel San Pietro and the lovely big terrace outside it. This is the best spot in Verona to catch the sunset. You get a stunning view across the spires and turrets, and the Adige River, snaking towards the setting sun. This is a very popular place so arriving early is vital if you want a prime spot.

Peperino Verona for Dinner

From the top of the hill, you are going to head all the way back to Piazza Bra. This is because the atmosphere here is lovely and lively in the evening. Plus, if you need to get a bus anywhere, this is where you need to be. There are lots of places with tables on the square but just one road away is a nice spot with some of the best pizza in Verona. The pizza menu here is large and full of unusual varieties that celebrate local flavours on either a Roman or Neapolitan base. Below is my mortadella and pistachio pizza but given the chance, I’d have ordered several more to try as well. (They have gluten-free pizzas too).

It can be busy; book a table for 40 minutes after sunset to give yourself a nice stroll back here. It is also worth remembering that this is a big place so service can be slow. Order a few drinks and make it a leisurely dinner.

Osteria La Mandorla for a Drink

If you are still going and fancy a nightcap, then this casual hole-in-the-wall bar is a perfect way to end the night. Osteria La Mandorla is not about fancy cocktails or lines of shots, just delicious, cheap local Suave wine or cold beer with a fun atmosphere. There may not be a seat as it is quite small and very popular but standing and having a beverage outside in the summer night, with locals, is exceedingly pleasurable.

The Verona Card

Throughout this one day in Verona itinerary, we plan to duck in and out of chargable attractions. If you are planning to follow this itinerary, then it might be worth getting a Verona Card. There are two types available: the 24-hour card for €20 or the 48-hour card for €25. Included in our itinerary were the following spots, all free on the card.

  • Juliet’s House (free with the card but you must book a time slot)
  • Arena di Verona.
  • Church of Sant’Anastasia.
  • Lamberti Tower.

If paid separately, they would cost about €17 but the card also includes public transport for the full 24/48 hours so it is great if you are arriving by train (the old town is not close to the train station). Plus, if you have more than one day in Verona then you get another whole day’s worth of entrance to attractions for not much more. (If you are sticking around, be sure to check out the Castelvecchio Museum included with the card).

Final Thoughts on The Perfect Way to Spend One Day in Verona, Italy

If you only have one day in Verona then this is the best blend of historical sights, culinary treats and beautiful views. If you can wangle two days in Verona then it is definitely worth visiting some more of the churches, spending some time in Castelvecchio and considering a food tour for a chance to try lots more local dishes. This overlooked little Italian gem, nestled in a lovely loop of the Adige River is worth a visit, even if you only have one day. Romeo and Juliet would be heartbroken if you didn’t.

Rosie xx

Spread the love

Leave Us A Comment