Venture across the Ponte Pietra, Ponte Nuovo or Ponte Navi bridges to the east of the historic centre and enter Veronetta, an area of the city which is full of charm and the arts: this is where a younger, more energetic Verona is to be found.
The original settlement of the city
The district on the left bank of the river has a long history; it was here that the first settlement of Verona was founded, on the San Pietro hill, as well as the first places of Christian worship where today stand the churches of Santo Stefano, San Giovanni in Valle, Santi Siro e Libera and Santi Nazaro e Celso. The name Veronetta originated at the start of the 1800s, when Napoleon’s army reached Italy. The city of Verona was then divided into two parts: the land on the right bank of the river was in the hands of the French whilst the left bank remained under the control of the Austrians. This earned it the disparaging name of Veronette from the French troops.
Make a date with the arts
Veronetta is home to the magnificent remains of the Teatro Romano, built in the first century BCE at the foot of the San Pietro hill and still in use today. If you happen to be in Verona during the summer, do not miss the opportunity to take in a concert or theatrical performance in this incredible location. Every year, it hosts the Rumors Festival, Verona Jazz, the Festival della Bellezza and the Verona Summer Theatre Season, some of the most popular events in Verona’s cultural calendar. Sitting on the steps of the ancient theatre, surrounded by the natural and architectural sights, facing the river, is a truly magical experience.
The Teatro Romano is not just known for its music, it is also home to the archaeological museum, one of the most important in the city, with many precious finds from Roman times on permanent display alongside interesting temporary themed exhibitions..
And there is plenty more culture in Veronetta!
If you continue towards Porta Vescovo, you will find the Centro di Documentazione Verona Città Fortificata, the first specialist archives for promoting understanding of the heritage provided by Verona’s military architecture, which was the reason for the city being granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
On Lungadige Porta Vittoria, along the river front, there is the Museum of Natural History, housed in one of the most stunning buildings in the city (designed by the architect Sanmicheli), which features an incredible wealth of treasures from the natural world, including sections dedicated to geology, dinosaurs, the animal kingdom, pre-history and plants.
Castel San Pietro: a terrace overlooking the city of love
Above the Teatro Romano stands the Austrian fort known as Castel San Pietro. This panoramic terrace, up there atop the fortress, offers the best vantage point for views across the whole site. You can walk up there, via the staircase, or if you are tired or just don’t fancy the climb, there is a funicular railway. Whichever way you choose to reach the top, you will find a great place to stop for for refreshments, where you can enjoy a good cup of coffee, or a cool drink as you gaze at the astounding beauty of Verona as seen from above. Or you can follow a leafy path along the old city walls, via the old Torricelle watchtowers.
Verona, a miniature Jerusalem
Some of the most stunning religious buildings in this district including the churches of Santo Stefano, Santi Siro e Libera, San Giovanni in Valle, Santa Maria in Organo, Santi Nazaro e Celso and San Tomaso Cantuariense. The latter, known in English as the Church of Saint Thomas Beckett, houses an organ which was played by Mozart in 1770, when he stayed in Verona. These splendid churches, less well-known and with fewer visitors than the four major ones in the city centre, are part of the Minor Hierusalem circuit, an initiative which aims to keep these precious treasures of Christian architecture open to the public, through the help of volunteers, in line with the idea of the city designed as a miniature Jerusalem.
Veronetta, the place to be
As you walk through the streets and squares of this part of Verona, you will notice that it is a bustling district, full of alternative bars, artisan shops and art galleries. Away from the usual tourist sites, Veronetta offers a snapshot of a more youthful Verona, one which is developing, that is diverse and multicultural, thanks in part to the presence in this area of the Santa Marta university campus, an industrial heritage site dating back to the Hapsburg period. If you are looking for a less touristy place for your aperitif or an after-dinner cocktail, Veronetta is the place to come. Here you will find a younger crowd of students enjoying their free time.
The city’s green lung
The beautiful historic buildings of Veronetta have sadly been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair in some cases but between the shop signs you might be able to admire their architectural elegance and imagine how the streets might have once looked. This fascinating location also contains one of the city’s most precious treasures, the Giardino Giusti and its adjoining stately home: a precious green space which over the centuries has attracted drawn artists, scholars and travellers from all across Europe. The gardens are open to the public all year round and in May, thanks to the ‘Giardini Aperti’ programme, so too are the other green spaces in Veronetta which are normally closed to visitors. A truly unmissable occasion to take a glance at the inside of these magnificent private spaces, little gems hidden away from public view. The initiative, launched in 2019, was very successful and it is planned to repeat the event every year. The best way to explore this part of Verona is in the company of a local, who can guide you through the area’s many sights and outstanding local produce. If you prefer to go it alone, let instinct be your guide: observe at close quarters the bars, the shops, the architecture, savour the aromas emanating from shop windows and experience for yourself the charm of a neighbourhood being reinvented.