It should come as no surprise that the home of Romeo and Juliet goes all out for the holiday of love.
Any Italian vacation with a loved one is bound to feel romantic thanks to the relaxed pace, delicious food and wine, and stunning scenery loaded with history. But for the ultimate lovers’ getaway all’Italiano, there’s no place like Verona, the city in the northern Veneto region that was the one-time setting for William Shakespeare’s classic Romeo & Juliet. Though the story of feuding Capulets and Montagues is (mostly) made up, it has inspired romantics for centuries to make a pilgrimage to their home town.
Fictional lovers aside, Verona is a stunning setting for a romantic getaway. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a pink marble Roman arena, the city on the Adige River has winding medieval streets, grand villas, and picturesque bridges. And when Valentine’s Day comes around, the city goes all out, decorating everything from streetlights to sidewalks to play up its amorous reputation.
If you’re visiting for Valentine’s Day, you’ll see heart-shaped decorations in restaurants and shops and pop-up events all over the city. In particular, don’t miss these uniquely Veronese celebrations:
Heart-Shaped Box: Next to the city’s largest square, the Piazza dei Signori sets itself apart with a Valentine’s Day vendor’s market arrayed in the shape of a mammoth heart, complete with red carpet. Though many of the trinkets for sale are on the kitschy side, it’s a great place to grab a fun souvenir. Then, climb the Torre dei Lamberti, a 275-foot tower begun in the 12th century, to see the scene from above.
House of Love: Though Juliet probably never lived in Verona, her house is a favorite stop for tourists today. The Juliet’s House museum, dating back to the 13th century, is known for its 2nd-floor balcony reminiscent of the one in Juliet’s bedroom, as well as a bronze statue of Juliet in its courtyard that is believed to bring luck to lovers. It’s marked with an insignia of a hat for the Dal Cappello family, which some theorize Shakespeare turned into Capulet.Picture Perfect: In the lead-up to the big day, the city of Verona decorates its antique hanging streetlights with red, heart-shaped covers that hang in strings like massive streamers floating above the darkened streets. Find these on Via Mazzini and in the Piazza Bra and snap an adorable photo with your sweetie below the glowing hearts.