Festivals & Markets
The Teatro Romano is known for its Festival Shakespeariano (Shakespeare Festival) June through August, which celebrated its 61st anniversary in 2009. Festival performances usually begin in late May with jazz concerts, while performances of the Bard's plays generally kick off toward the end of June. In July and August, there are a number of ballets (occasionally, Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet) and modern-dance performances. Check the schedule (tel. 045-807-7500 or 045-806-6485, www.estateteatraleveronese.it, or the tourist office). Last-minute tickets go on sale at the Teatro Romano box office at 8:15pm (most performances start at 9pm). Tickets are in the neighborhood of 25€.
During Verona's summer-long festival of the arts, see what's happening in the Piazza dei Signori, where frequent free concerts (jazz, tango, classical) keep everyone out until the wee hours. And for something truly unique, check out Sognando Shakespeare (Dreaming Shakespeare): Follow this teatro itinerante (traveling theater) of young, talented actors in costume as they wander about the medieval corners of Verona from site to site, reciting Romeo e Giulietta (in Italian only) in situ, as Shakespeare would have loved it to be. For information, contact the tourist office. For information about performances July through September, call tel. 045-800-0065.
Other important events are the famous 4-day horse fair, Fieracavalli, in late October, and the important 5-day VinItaly wine fair (that overlaps with the Olive Oil Fair) in mid-April. (Verona's schedule of fairs is long and varied; while few may be of interest to those outside the trades involved, their frequency can create problems for tourists in regard to hotel availability.) The Piazza San Zeno hosts a traveling antiques market the third Saturday of every month; come early.
Will the Fat Lady Sing?
Verona's renowned opera season begins in late June and extends through August in Verona's Arena, the ancient amphitheater. It began in 1913 with a staging of Aïda to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Verdi's birth, and Aïda in all of its extravagant glory has been performed yearly ever since. Expect to see other Verdi works such as Nabucco, La Traviata, and Rigoletto, as well as other big-name crowd pleasers (the 2010 season, which begins on June 18, will have Aïda, Turandot, Madama Butterfly, Il Trovatore, and Carmen).
Those seated on the least expensive, unreserved stone steps costing 23€ to 28€ Friday and Saturday and 21€ to 26€ otherwise, enjoy fresh air, excellent acoustics, and a view over the Arena's top to the city and surrounding hills beyond. The rub is that Jose Carreras will only appear to be 1 inch high, and if it was a sunny day, the stones will have stored up enough heat to keep a small town humming for days and that heat will pass to you during your 3 hours at the Arena. Numbered seats below cost from 73€ to 183€ during the week and 84€ to 198€ on Friday and Saturday (there are slightly reduced prices for those under 27 and over 65). All tickets are subject to an advance booking fee that varies depending on how much you spend and is 7.50€ for a purchase of up to 150€ and 12€ for a purchase of up to 250€ -- worth it, unless you're willing to tough it out by lining up at 4 or 5pm for the 6pm opening of the gates for unreserved seating (and the show doesn't even start until 9:15pm).
The box office is located on Via Dietro Anfiteatro 6b; credit card purchase accepted by phone or online (tel. 045-800-5151; www.arena.it). You pick up tickets the night of the performance. If you hope to find tickets upon arrival, remember that Aïda is everyone's most requested performance; weekend performances are usually sold out. As a last resort, be nice to your hotel manager -- everyone has a connection. And even on the most coveted nights (weekend performances by top names), scalpers abound. If you want to plan early, tickets generally go on sale at the beginning of October for the season that begins the following June.
City of Love
If no romantic comedy is too saccharine for your tastes and no love letter too sappy, you might just want to make your visit to Verona coincide with Valentine's Day so that you can participate in the city's weeklong Verona in Love festival. Yes, that's really the name. The festival is 7 days devoted to devotion, and sponsored by local florists. Events include a competition to see who can write the best love letter to Juliet, and merchants' stands in Piazzale Bra are set up in the shape of a heart for the occasion. The city center is decked out with twinkling lights, and a sort of holiday spirit pervades the medieval alleys. If you and your significant other happened to meet at the track or in the gym, you might want to celebrate Verona in Love by running the city's annual marathon or the Giulietta and Romeo Half Marathon. An added bonus for cash-strapped lovers: Entrance to Juliet's house and tomb is free for most of the week during the festival. For information: www.veronainlove.com.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.