Are you looking for a green space where you can breath clean air or get some exercise? Whatever the reason, I recommend that you come up to Torricelle. A stroll in the hills to the north of the city, barely ten minutes’ walk from the centre.
I love going there in spring, after lunch, to soak up a bit of sun and watch the show which nature puts on at this time of year. Dogs love this place too, wagging their tails with joy!
Why is this area called Torricelle?
The zone surrounding Veronetta takes its name from the lookout towers, or torricelle, positioned along the ramparts. These towers used to help protect the city from the north-west during its control by Austria. The four biggest towers, which give the area its name, are easily recognisable with their slightly squashed cylindrical shape. And while they have not yet been fully restored, they are clearly visible along the route. An urban hike in the park along the walls. It is an easy route, fairly flat and very relaxing. You can start from Ponte Pietra bridge, one of Verona’s oldest sights, cross the Adige and head for the funicular railway.
Or would you prefer to climb up on foot?
Close to the funicular, look out for a sign showing the way to Castel San Pietro. A long staircase takes you straight to the castle. Both options are very scenic; with the funicular, you save time and effort but it is much more satisfying to climb the staircase and you can stop off to take some photos along the way. When you reach the top, the view is incredible and the best time to be here is sunset, when it becomes one of Verona’s most romantic locations. Turn right at the castle and you will find a gravel path leading to the hills. In just a few minutes, you are out in the open countryside. Keep following the wall and you come to a large park, often full of students who meet up to work together, play ball games or just enjoy the sunshine. Continuing walking along the ramparts for another twenty-or-so minutes, until you come to a lane which heads downhill on your right, towards Opera Don Calabria.
Stop for a moment to take in the view of the city from the enormous terrace of the Opera Don Calabria, with all of Verona’s bell towers in front of you, before continuing on your way above the elegant Giardino Giusti. You cannot leave Verona without visiting this magical place. At this point, you have a choice: either walk around the edge of the garden and head back into the city centre or you can continue in the direction of San Nazaro church.
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes
Another very famous part of the Torricelle district is the sanctuary. It is to the left of the castle, so set off in the opposite direction from the route described above. The sanctuary is very large and can be clearly seen from the centre of Verona. It is an important destination for pilgrims as well as anyone who wants to see the city from above, in this quiet and easily accessible location. With its unusual round shape, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes matches the silhouettes of the neighbouring forts. It is also a very interesting building to visit, particularly for the marble statue of the Immaculate Conception. It was built in 1908 and was the only part of the Sanctuary to escape unscathed during the bombing in World War Two. Obviously, the whole building has been rebuilt but it remains a reference point for the city, protecting the river valley from on high. To get to the Sanctuary, you can take public transport, hire an electric bike or walk up on foot.