Verona - why not holiday in the city that's home to Shakespeare's most famous lovers - and some impressive Roman remains?

With a journey time of as little as 14 hours from Johannesburg or Cape Town , Verona is an enticing - and much quieter - alternative to the other main city in Italy's Veneto region, Venice.

The city's location on the Italian plain results in coldish Winter weather with hot Summers. Late Spring and early Autumn are pleasant times to visit for a holiday and many would advise booking airplane tickets for these periods. The city will also be less busy during these times of the year than during the main European school holiday period in July and August.

This city of some 265,000 inhabitants has been a major urban centre for two thousand years, borne out by the existence of the enormous Roman arena, the third largest in the world. The arena is still in use, hosting opera performances and pop concerts. The Roman presence also lives on in bridges (the Ponte Pietra), city gates (the Porta Borsari) and a fascinating arch (Arco dei Gavi), which is engraved with the name of the Roman architect who built it.

Most of the city's notable buildings, however, were constructed in the Medieval period. A great way of getting a good overview of Verona is by climbing to the top of one of them, the 84-metre high Torre dei Lamberti, which offers lovely views of the city and the Alps. At the heart of the city's defences during this period was the Castelvecchio, an impressively forbidding looking castle which now houses the equally impressive municipal art collection. The Ponte Scaligero, named after the 13th and 14th century ruling family, the Scaligeri, is a favourite viewing point.

Located a short walk from the castle are a number of squares, or Piazza. Each has its own particular charm, whether it's the magnificent backdrop of the Arena in the Piazza Bra, the market or 14th century fountain on Piazza Erbe or the Renaissance Palazzi and statue of Dante on the Piazza dei Signori.

Gorgeous churches, Renaissance gardens and star-crossed lovers all make Verona into a truly memorable destination.

One of Verona's most-visited sights is Juliet's House and balcony, although in truth, the house has no connection with the unfortunate Juliet, so it may be best to just use your imagination!
However, there's certainly no doubt about the beauty of Verona's churches. San Zeno Maggiore is a stunning Romanesque church with a lovely rose window, nave ceiling and striking bronze door panels, some of which are almost 1,000 years old. San Fermo Maggiore has very fine medieval frescos by Pisanello, amongst others, and San Giorgio in Braida contains art by Veronese. Other churches worth visiting during your stay here include:
  • The Duomo
  • Sant'Anastasia
  • San Lorenzo
  • Santa Maria in Organo
Renaissance ideas also extended to the natural world, as well as to architecture. The Giardino Giusti is one of Italy's best examples of a Renaissance garden, first planted back in 1580!
Before booking your flight to Verona, you should make sure you have checked out what travel regulations you have to abide by, and whether or not vaccinations are necessary before you fly. Italy is both a member of the Eurozone and the Schengen Area, and is one hour behind South African time.

Don't miss out on the best Verona has to offer - plan ahead with these handy online travel resources

Your Verona holiday planning won't be complete without consulting the following websites: