The first thing to do in the morning is to stop in for breakfast at a little cafe or pastry shop where you can drink at the counter with plenty of locals. Pasticceria Barini will do the trick, or the classic Caffe Borsari close to the city center. Seating is limited in both places, but standing is part of the joy of taking part in this Italian ritual. Choose something sweet and buttery and send it down with some good coffee.
Pasticceria Barini, Corso Porta Nuova, 8, 37122 Verona, Italy, +39 045 803 0449
Caffe Borsari, Corso Porta Borsari 15d, Verona, 37121, Italy +39 045 803 1313
Verona is a very walkable city and the morning is a great time to go around before the main areas get too crowded. Check out the Porta Borsari, a magnificent Roman arch dating back to the first century BC, sitting along the Corso Porta Borsari. Then head towards the heart of the city, the Piazza delle Erbe, a gathering place for everyone from tour groups during the day to youngsters in the evening. This was the historic center of the city, where merchants and tradesmen sold their wares. There’re also plenty of souvenir vendors selling trinkets, if that’s up your alley and many buzzing cafes all around the square.
Passing through the Arco della Costa, you’ll find yourself under a mysteriously hanging whale rib. It’s been there for centuries and the legend goes that it’ll fall only when someone walks under it who has never told a lie. You’ll then enter the Piazza dei Signori, a gorgeous square surrounded by medieval and Renaissance architecture, with the gorgeously Gothic Scaligeri tombs.
From there on, you can go towards Juliet’s house, a Renaissance-era home with a gorgeous medieval balcony that was added in the 20th century along with a bronze statue of Juliet. The house itself is a museum with plenty of kitschy romantic paraphernalia, but the downstairs courtyard is just as much of a spectacle, with international people coming from all over the world to write notes to Juliet.
Casa di Giulietta, Via Cappello 23, 37121 Verona, Italy, +39 045 803 4303
At lunchtime, it’s time to meander over to Osteria Magna e Tasi, a dark and delightful little restaurant that’s a popular stop for all kinds of locals. Prices start from €6 per plate and portions are hearty, with primi like tagliatelle with pesto and tomatoes, or thin slices of bresaola with grilled vegetables. Treat yourself to something indulgent and follow it up with a strong coffee.
Now that you’ve been freshly fortified, it’s time to make your way to the Adige to visit this medieval fortress with a twist. It was redesigned in the 20th century by modernist architect Carlo Scarpa, but the building dates back to the 14th century, owned by the ultra-powerful Della Scala ruling family. It’s a perfect example of the delightful historical salad that this ancient city tosses up. Art lovers will be charmed by the incredible civic art collection, with beautiful paintings by Renaissance greats like Mantegna and Rubens. To cap it all off, take in the glorious view from the top of the building, which alone is worth the trip.
Heading towards Veronetta, you’ll pass by the historic Arena, with over two thousand solid years of history. Verona was an important part of the Roman Empire and this gorgeous open-air amphitheater is the best-preserved structure of its kind. The pink and white marble from nearby Valpolicella gives this place all the pomp and splendor of that mighty and cruel empire. It’s still fully functional today as a summertime theater, so check out the schedule for interesting shows.
As the afternoon wears on, you’ll want to make your way to this great neighborhood across town, where students, youngsters and new immigrants hang out, making for a delightful cultural mix. Check out Libre!, a radical bookshop and social center, where the well-curated book selection is supplemented by a great cafe full of local products. Browse at Sottosopra33, a great thrift store with vintage and upcycled treasures. You’ll be sure to stumble upon some real gems in this neighborhood.
Sottosopra33, Via Scrimiari, 3, 37129 Verona VR, Italy, +39 045 803 1928
This is a great place to end the night, with its cozy wooden interiors and its homey crowd of locals and students. Come for the extremely important Veronese tradition of the aperitivo. The place gets crowded in the evenings, but don’t be shy. March right up to the counter and order yourself a plate of delicious snacks like fried eggplant polpette and mortadella on toast. They also have delicious primi like pasta and risotto dishes. Then wash it all down with generous glasses of wine.
Caffe Monte Baldo, Via Rosa 12, Verona, Italy, +39 045 803 0579