Experience Local Culture in Verona for
By Alice Woolliams
is a small (but significant) historic city in the north of Italy,
famous for its opera and architecture. Yet although its reputation
is one of culture and class, you can enjoy a visit to the city without
having to splash out.
Accommodation in Verona
hostels are on the limited side in comparison to much of Italy
but there are still plenty of excellent budget accommodation options.
Instead of the usual dorms, an assortment of comfortable guest houses
and cheap hotels have great facilities at low prices.
Many visitors are drawn to Verona
as the legendary setting of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’
– something the city has capitalized on with tacky tours of
scenes from the play. But away from these tourist traps, the city
has a fascinating history and heritage.
ancient center still reflects its Roman past, with quaint streets,
piazzas and churches. To the south, the Porta Leoni gate guards
Verona along with the original 2,000 year old wall that encircles
Once the Roman forum, Piazza delle Erbe remains
a central urban hub, with cafés and ice-cream shops lining
the pavements and a lively crowd after dark. Likewise, the smooth
marble surface of the pedestrianiazed via Mazzini forms a busy shopping
district in the main thoroughfare.
To the southwest lies the vast Arena – an
impressive Roman amphitheatre where concerts are still held –
and the Renaissance Castelvecchio. A touch of Shakespearean romance
can be found in the beautiful Giardini Giusti, but without the inflated
Arts and Music
The opera season is at its height in July
and August, with performances taking place most evenings in the
Arena. Cheap seats are available on the gradinata (stone
steps) but they’re always popular and as places can’t
be reserved. It’s a good idea to arrive early to secure a
Cushions are also advisable for sitting on stone
for four hours. You can even take a picnic and enjoy the advantage
of the high view to watch the more glamorous audience arrive for
the expensive stalls below.
Aside from its renowned opera, the Arena has a
variety of pop concerts in the summer months while, to the south
of the city, Teatro Filarmonico regularly hosts world-class jazz.
A converted warehouse known as Interzona provides cutting-edge music
Trattoria and Osteria
Verona has a surprisingly good range of
affordable places to eat and drink considering its refined reputation.
Visitors on a budget will find local specialties cheap and easy
Traditional Italian venues, the trattorie
and osterie are the best places for big portions and reasonable
prices - the former being primarily restaurants and the latter orientated
around drinking. In practice, however, there’s little distinction
between the two and it’s possible to get quality food and
a large range of wines at either.
Local produce on the menu can include kiwi, radicchio,
chestnuts and melons whilst a gastronomic influence from north of
Alps lends Veronese cooking a heavy twist to their Italian favorites
– the bigoli, for example, is a sort of thick spaghetti
and popular in the trattorie.
Verona’s specialties, however, are
not limited to food – the surrounding slopes are full of vineyards
growing Valpolicella and Soave grapes. The city is also home to
Vinitaly, the largest wine fair in the world, which is held annually
in the spring.
With a wealth of produce on the doorstep, wine
in trattorie and osterie is almost universally
good quality and the house variety is more often than not cheap.
Although there’s a wealth of summer
venues around Lake Garda (20 km away), the city center lacks proper
nightclubs. Instead, visitors looking for a night out can head to
Sottoriva – parallel to the river – which is lined with
lively bars, lounges and pizzerias open until the early hours.
For a more sedate evening, Piazza delle
Erbe is bustling with local residents sipping the aperitif spritz
al Aperol in pavement cafés after dark – the perfect
way to soak up the atmosphere of this popular ancient city.