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Is That the Colosseum? A Visitor’s Guide to the Verona Arena

07 June 2024
by Melissa Puppo
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The Verona Opera season kicks off June 7, 2024.

In the heart of romantic, medieval Verona stands a stunning monument to the ancient era: the Verona Arena. A grand amphitheater dating back to 30 CE, this lookalike of Rome’s Colosseum is actually older than that famous site in the country’s capital—and better preserved, too. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Verona Arena is a testament to the city's passion for art, opening its 22,000 seats every summer to the public to enjoy the city’s greatest pastime: opera.   

Since 1913, the Verona Arena’s summer opera season has been an annual celebration of the arts in the city, skipped only during the war years and in 2020. This year, the amphitheater will celebrate the 101st season of the Verona Ancient Opera Festival from June 7- Sept. 7 with performances of six operas including Carmen, La Bohème, and Tosca  

Ahead of the bustling opera season, here’s everything you need to know before visiting the Verona Arena. 

Verona Arena

 

When to Book 

The official opera season in Verona kicks off June 7 and runs through September 7. Since this is peak visitor season, booking your hotel in Verona early is crucial! Many performances can run quite late, so hotels that are closest to the Arena are in the highest demand. Most performances take place Thursdays-Sundays, so if you’re planning to visit Verona but aren't interested in the opera, either visit on Monday-Wednesday (check the calendar [https://www.arena.it/en/arena-verona-opera-festival/calendar/] to make sure you won’t encounter theater crowds) or consider postponing till after the opera season ends for a more relaxed experience. The Arena is open to visitors year-round, so you’ll still be able to see this incredible building up close.   

When to Arrive  

The doors to the Arena open to ticket holders two hours before the show begins, and you are required to be there at least an hour ahead so everyone can get settled in their seats. The seating arrangement can be confusing if it’s your first time, and the last thing you want to do is miss any part of the show! The earlier you arrive, the more time you’ll have to take in the amazing building, order wine, and grab a candle for the tradition of lighting up the opening .  

The good news? Once you’re inside, there are many helpful attendants who can show you to your seat.  

 Verona AreanaWhere to Sit  

The Verona Arena features two types of seating: cushioned chairs and ancient stone benches. Seating on the floor level of the amphitheater is all cushioned chairs, while the stone seating goes up the sides of the arena. Ticket prices between the two sections vary dramatically; the priciest floor seats can be 270 euros each and come with a strict dress code, while the stone seating starts at just 22 euros. If comfort is your priority, or if climbing stairs or sitting for long periods without a backrest are a challenge, opt for the cushioned seats on the floor. The stone seating, on the other hand, is a more casual experience, with a panoramic view of the orchestra below you.   

No matter where you sit, the Arena’s amazing acoustic structure means you'll be able to hear everything that happens on stage perfectly, without the aid of microphones. If you opt for the stone seating, we strongly recommend buying a cushion in advance from stalls around Verona or for about 10 euros inside the venue. They’re not necessary, but they will make the experience much more enjoyable!  

 

What to Wear 

If you've opted for the cushioned seats for your opera experience, the Arena recommends “smart attire.” Although no specific dress code is required for women, you may feel uncomfortable in anything too casual. For men, casual shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops are forbidden in this section. In the bench seating sections, anything goes! People tend to dress quite casually here to stay cool in the summer air. 

 

What Happens If It Rains? 

Because the Arena is totally open to the elements, every performance is subject to the whims of the summer weather. If there is bad weather before the show begins, they may postpone the performance for up to two and a half hours in the hopes of starting up after the winds or rains have passed. If rain begins during the show, unfortunately, it’ll be curtains for that night! You can be refunded your ticket if the show is cancelled before it begins, but not if it ends early. 

 

Verona piazza

What to Do Nearby 

You can't bring food or drink into the arena itself, so it’s best to have dinner before the show. We recommend avoiding eating near the main piazza, as it tends to get crowded with other people doing the same thing as you! During intermissions, you can exit onto the surrounding piazza to purchase wine, water, and other refreshments from vendors who set up outside the Arena. 

  

Whether you’re going to Verona for the enchanting opera season or to explore the romantic setting of Romeo & Juliet, make sure to discover more about this captivating city with our Verona Travel Guide 

 

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