The city made famous by the tragic love affair of Romeo and Juliet has actually much more to offer than romanticism. While the Shakespearean tragedy is a work of fiction of one of the greatest playwrights in history, Verona in the Veneto region of Italy is 100 percent real. Its sights, sounds and attractions can be felt and touched by all the senses. And yet the ill-fated story of starstruck lovers, no matter how unreal, has taken on a life of its own. No matter how cynical you have become, the belief in undying love that seems to envelope the city further heightens its appeal and rubs off on you. You can't leave Verona without loving it.
Juliet's House, with her very famous balcony, looks just as you likely imagined it when reading the famous play. But after you've scribbled a love note on her walls, it's time to see the more authentic sights. The Roman Arena may look to be crumbling from the outside but it still holds performances during opera season. The Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore, with its frescoes dating from the 12th to the 15th centuries, is breathtaking while the Duomo, with the Cartolari-Nichesola Chapel, is another remarkable architectural stop. Other churches worth a visit are the Chiesa di Sant'Anastasia, the Chiesa di San Fermo and the Chiesa di San Lorenzo. If you want to relax, the well-sculpted gardens of Giardino Giusti are as charming as when they were first opened to visitors in 1591. The Castelvecchio Museum has a dazzling array of exhibits. If you want to get a wide view of Verona, climb up the Torre dei Lamberti.
Dining in Verona is best enjoyed in one of the city's many family-run restaurants or fine-dining establishments. You can sample gnocchi, risotto, tortellini and pastissade de caval in many of the eating places around Via Mazzini, Via San Sebastiano and Via Arche Scaligeri. Many cafes and bars are clustered along Piazza delle Erbe. There are also many eating and drinking spots in Piazza Bra but these can be very crowded.
Whether you're looking for high-quality fashion, bags or jewelry, the main shopping street in Verona is Via Mazzini, where many Italian brands are represented. The Corso Porta Borsari has great souvenirs while the Corso Sant'Anastasia offers antiques and other minor masterpieces. For wines, head to Oreste dal Zovo in Vicolo San Marco.
Via Catullo 1
just north of the Via Mazzini; entrance from the alleyway Vicolo Catullo
Cortile del Tribunale
Vicolo Samaritana 3
Via Tirabosco 4