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Where in north Italy will you find ancient architecture, sunset views of the Adige river and hearty cuisine? In Verona, where Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet was famously based. The city's romantic reputation is enhanced by the pretty winding lanes and Renaissance-era buildings found in its UNESCO-listed centre. The mountains and hiking trails of Lake Garda are close by too, if you're looking for an escape into nature.
The hostels in Verona range from tiny family-run bed and breakfasts to four-storey buildings with a fresh and modern feel. Wake up to culture on your doorstep, with some Verona hostels located metres from sights like the Porta Leoni Roman gate and Juliet's Balcony. If you're an animal lover, you can stay in a Verona hostel with pets. Many hostels have outdoor terraces or gardens where you can while away sunny afternoons, and lots offer free Wi-Fi and breakfast too.
The Città antica neighbourhood is home to the historic centre of Verona, where you'll find landmarks like the amphitheatre and cathedral. Veronetta is just across the river, and its bars and nightlife are popular with students. The neighbourhood of San Zeno is just west of the centre and mixes ancient history with a buzzing atmosphere around the Basilica di San Zeno piazza, where there's a market on Sundays. To the south, the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Borgo Roma is well worth a visit for its hip restaurants and arty cultural spaces.
There's plenty to see and do in Verona. Verona Arena, the first-century Roman amphitheatre in the heart of the city, hosts open-air opera performances each year from June to September. You can watch the world go by at Erbe Piazza with a glass of the local wine and a meal in one of the square's eateries. Art lovers can pay a visit to Castelvecchio Museum to see medieval and Renaissance works. The funicular offers a panoramic view of the city, or for a peaceful retreat, the clear waters and mountainous wilderness of Lake Garda are just an hour's train ride away.
It takes just over 30 minutes by train to reach Verona from the nearest airport, Valerio Catullo, or Villafranca as it's known. If you're arriving at Verona Brescia Airport, the journey takes around an hour by taxi. The main train station, Verona Porta Nuova, is a 20-minute walk from the city centre. Taxi ranks can be found dotted through the city, though if you're moving around a lot, a daily bus pass will keep you within budget.