4 must-see historical attractions in Verona

Immortalized by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Verona is a city synonymous with romance - but it's not only its literary associations that have made it so. I think it's fair to say that its remarkable array of historic buildings plays a large part in creating the city's famous ambiance, which makes visiting at least a few of these something of a must.

To give you an idea of just how many fascinating nuggets of the past are still standing here today, I should tell you that the whole of Verona is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So, you won't be surprised to hear that you really will be spoilt for choice when it comes to ancient places to visit in this European city.

Of course, that can make it a bit tough to choose where to go, especially if you're on the indecisive side like me. To help give you an idea of where to start, I've put together a list of my top five. And for those of you still working on the finer points of your trip, you can find lots of handy information about hotels at Sovereign.

The Arena
When it comes to historical attractions in Verona, the Arena is definitely the star of the show. Behind only the Colosseum and amphitheatre of Capua in terms of size, the Arena is a staggering sight. It dates back to the 1st century AD, when it was often used to stage bloody gladiator battles. What I find most remarkable about this place, aside from its sheer size and how well it has been preserved, is that it's still being used today; seeing an opera performance here is utterly arresting.

Ponte Pietra

Also dating back to the 1st century is Ponte Pietra, which was called Pons Lapideus in Roman times. Despite having collapsed several times over the years, the bridge is still going strong today, and if you head over to the left side of the River Adige you can still see its Roman arches. And, since the bridge has been rebuilt so many times, it's fun to see how many touches from other periods in history you can spot.

Palazzo Barbieri
When you're strolling around Verona, it's interesting to remember that if you take the time to look closely, you can discern influences from a number of different sources throughout the city's history. The Palazzo Barbieri illustrates what I mean perfectly; while from the outside it resembles a Roman temple, it was actually built in the first half of the 19th century and acted as the headquarters for the Austrian Civic Grand. So, it was a seat of power from the time of Austrian domination.

Quick tip: Now the Town Hall, the Palazzo Barbieri isn't open to the public. So, if you want to check it out (and I recommend you do), you'll need to be content with admiring it from the outside.

Juliet's House
As I mentioned above, Verona was the setting for Shakespeare's timeless tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. Part of the magic of Verona, then, is that you can step into the story in the form of Juliet's House.
This belonged to the Dal Cappello family, and by visiting it you can see the famous balcony where Romeo is meant to have wooed his Juliet. By the way, if you buy tickets to explore inside the house, you can actually stand on said balcony - an opportunity that's too good to miss.

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  1. We were lucky enough to see Aida at the Arena this summer on our 6 week European Road Trip. We do miss Italy but love Spain too.