Roses and chocolates are nice, but a trip to Verona practically guarantees the ultimate Valentine’s getaway if you really want to do something special.
Most famous as the place where William Shakespeare set his play Romeo and Juliet, it’s just a little over an hour from the highly popular tourist destination of Venice, but it offers a more laid-back atmosphere for strolling historic streets and marveling at architecture that reflects its more than 2,000-year-old history.
Of course, a city that serves as the setting to the world’s most famous love story is bound to have practically an endless number of romantic things to do. Even without the tragic tale, Verona’s ancient Roman architecture and cobblestoned piazzas give it loads of romantic appeal.
If a proposal is what you have in mind, there may be no better place then Juliet’s balcony. But even if you don’t plan to propose, you won’t want to miss a visit. The site of the greatest love story told, it’s where Juliet called “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?” Casa di Giulietta, as the house is known, features what’s arguably the world’s most renowned balcony. Couples of all ages from all corners of the globe to pledge their forever love in honor of Shakespeare’s play. Of course, as we all know, the two main characters never actually existed in real life, and, in fact, the playwright himself never even stepped into Verona, but when the city purchased this home from the Dal Capello family back in 1905, since the name was so similar, they declared it as the famed residence of the Capuleti family, and it’s been referred to that way ever since. Of course, that little detail should not prevent you from what’s been called the “essential love pilgrimage,” rather, it should be on the top of your list.
Couples are supposed to rub the bronze statue of Juliet for good luck. You can also bring along some paper and sticky putty to leave a love note on the house walls as countless others have.
Despite the romantic fiction, Verona has an incredibly rich and fascinating history. As the ancient Romans considered it to be the ideal spot to rest and re-energize before crossing the Alps, you can discover a host of Roman ruins here. Stroll hand-in-hand to marvel at the well-preserved amphitheater, which is the third largest in the Roman world. Dating back to the first century, it’s still managed to retain much of its original stone.
Today, the amphitheater is the venue for the Opera Festival, but centuries ago it housed crowds as large as 25,000 who cheered on the Roman gladiator battles and medieval executions. The sheer size and grandeur of the arena that dominates the city is truly awe-inspiring.
You might want to have a little fun competition by walking the main drag, Corso Porta Borsari, too. A game of ancient scavenger hunt can be enjoyed as remnants of Verona’s illustrious past are hidden throughout. Look for the fossils in marble, chips of Roman columns and medieval reliefs that are spread among the more modern shop windows.
If you walk down Corso Porta Borsari, you’ll end up here at Piazza Erbe, the oldest piazza in the city and its market square. Surrounded by Renaissance-style buildings with a Romanesque fountain at its center, this romantic spot is the ideal place for a kiss and for toasting to your time together with a glass of wine and an aperitivo. You can also browse the daily market and check out the magnificent structures like the three-story palace, Palazzo Maffel.
In the evening, join in on a Italian tradition known as la passeggiata, a walk that locals take just before supper for socializing. As you make your way down the wide sidewalk promenade, you’ll be surrounded by little romantic moments, from the guy pedaling his bicycle with his girlfriend on the handlebars, to elderly couples who’ve been married for decades holding hands and gazing into each other’s’ eyes. Take time to just enjoy the naturally romantic ambiance that’s all around you.
Witnessing a sunset over Verona from the Austrian castle known as Castiel San Pietro is another must while in this city. It sits atop a small hill northeast of the Adige River, providing a panoramic view and a romantic experience like no other.
The only way to top a day in one of Italy’s most romantic cities, is to cap it off with dinner at one of its most romantic restaurants. Verona has a wealth of gourmet eateries to choose from, but for the most romantic dining experience, the 150-year-old Locanda Castelvecchio, which sits just opposite of the castle, can’t be beat. Book a table in the intimate alcove of this 150-year-old restaurant, order a bottle of Amarone wine and get ready for the feast of a lifetime.
Every year around Valentine’s Day, Verona organizes a series of romantic events in a series called “Verona in Love.” Restaurants offer candlelit dinners, free evening concerts are hosted, as well as poetry readings and art exhibitions, making it easy to find the perfect way to spend this special day of love.