For any opera fan, heading to the Arena di Verona for a Verona opera holiday, has to be at the top of your list. Every summer for late June, July and August time this fantastic open-air Roman arena opens its doors to some of the world’s most loved operas. But if you have never been before, you are sure to have questions on Verona itself and the packages we offer, so below is a list of twelve of the most popular questions I get asked:
1. Will I have to wait for the whole group to be ready before the bus transfers us from the airport to the hotel?
The simple answer is no! There is no group. We treat everyone embarking on a Verona opera holiday as an individual, so when you get to the Arrivals Hall in Verona your private driver is waiting with a sign with your name on it. He/she will then transfer you to your hotel. No waiting for the expected person keeping everyone waiting. This will be the same when you say Arrivederci to Verona and transfer back to the airport on your last day.
2. Is the hotel outside of town?
No. Whilst many travel agents/tour operators choose a 3 star hotel outside of the main city, we prefer 4 star centrally located hotels, where our clients are free to wander out for a meal or to explore. All our hotels that we recommend are hotels we know very well and can recommend according to your needs. Our two favourites – Hotel Firenze and Hotel Accademia are the ones we return to every year, assured they provide a top level service. Hotel Firenze is around a 5 mins walk to the arena and a bit more modern in a tasteful way, Hotel Accademia is in the quieter shopping district, older, more traditional and has its own restaurant. Both hotels have received praise from all our clients who stay there.
Alternatively if you want to really treat yourself or a special loved one, we also have some beautiful 5 star options – the main one being Il Sogno di Giulietta, one of the best relais’s in the world.
3. Is breakfast included:
Yes. All of our hotels are on a Bed & Breakfast rate. If you want the option of staying in, Hotel Accademia also has its own restaurant for lunch and dinner. Most of the hotels don’t have this option as Verona is awash with fantastic restaurants catering for your traditional pizza to your mouth watering seafood dishes. We recommend you let your nose take you!
4. Will it be very hot in Verona?
It is likely to be from the late 20c to mid 30c as an average, which can make the city very humid. Fortunately the Italian’s have an ice cream (gelato) shop on most corners, so why not indulge! We can also recommend some time on nearby Lake Garda for the perfect break from the humidity and the crowds. The refreshing waters on the lake are just perfect for a good unwind from work.
5. What can I do in Verona?
Verona is the perfect blend of having enough to do for 3-4 days but without you feeling like you are missing out if your trip is shorter or you move onto other cities. Your Verona Pass Card which provides free access to many of the local sights also comes with a map, so finding your way around is easy.
My top recommendations? Head to Castelvecchio (Scaligeri Castle), for a few hours wandering through the artefacts of the cities’s history and enjoying the views as you walk along the battlements.
Also not to be missed is Juliet’s balcony. The city is synonymous with Shakespeare’s doomed lovers Romeo & Juliet and you can visit both her balcony, (for a small charge €2-3 you can stand on it) along with her house located around 10mins walk from the balcony.
For gastronomy we can recommend Al Cristo for a wine tasting and either lunch or dinner. Located several streets above the arena, this is a good option to explore the local wines from the Valpolicello region.
There is also a National History Museum to visit. From the outside this tardis like building looks like a quick exploration, but the collection can easily keep you entertained for several hours.
Whilst of course no Italian city would also be complete without the usual blend of churches and even a Duomo, your next two stops must be opera based! The arena now has a museum which houses past sets and costumes including some worn by Maria Callas and many other opera greats. Lastly, head to the arena itself to see this incredible setting where in the evening you will enjoy the opera. By day with the sets removed you can marvel at this truly historical building, by evening the incredibly acoustics will transport you to the opera!
6. What can I do in the surrounding area?
Well, with Lake Garda only around 40mins away you can either do a day trip and explore Garda Island and scenic Sirmione, or for the ultimate advice, extend your trip by several days and enjoy the lake in your own time! We have some perfectly located hotels with balcony rooms looking over the lake. After several days of culture in the city, time to unwind on the lake is a great way to continue your trip.
Other options we can recommend include heading to Villa Novare for a wine tasting in the Valpolicello region. Located between Verona and Lake Garda could not be more ideal.
For those wanting spa treatments, the excellent Byblos for a massage, thermal pools and a whole host of other relaxing options, including a sumptuous meal are on offer.
7. What about if I want to explore other cities? Is this possible?
I get many enquiries from people wanting to explore other areas but worried about the logistics of how to do this effectively. With a regular, inexpensive train route or private transfers for those wanting to travel in style, this is not a problem. Verona is superbly located for time in Venice, Milan, Florence, and the three lakes – Garda, Como and Maggiore. It is also not impossible to travel onto Siena and see the twice yearly historical Palio race, Rome and Sorrento. If this is of interest, please let us know and we will be happy to recommend options. If you know one opera experience is not enough, we can recommend both Venice for La Fenice and Milan for La Scala, and put these into your break. Of course opera-schedule-permitting you could always take in a second night at the Verona arena instead.
8. Can I hear the opera outside of the arena?
Yes you can! The acoustics in the arena are incredible, but being an open-air arena means the restaurants outside the arena also get to hear the incredible music. When you hear you will find it hard to believe the arena has been around since 72AD with sound quality this good!
9. What do I wear to the opera?
The general rule is smart/casual attire, in other words you must be presentable and not wearing any denim or anything that could cause offence. Please remember that although the opera starts late in the evening (9pm for June and July, 8.45pm for August), it can still be in the late 20c up to midnight, so for this reason I recommend leaving the thick layers at home.
10. I am worried I might have someone very tall/with a big head in front of me and won’t see the stage?
No need to worry! The arena is built sloping down towards the stage, so there is never any issue in regards to visibility. Your Verona opera holiday will not be ruined by neck ache!
11. How good is the seating? I have mobility issues and don’t want to be high up or seated on stone steps?
We always focus on the gold central stall seating which is the best in the arena. Located on the ground about half way back in the centre from the stage, these seats give you the best full view of the stage. There are no steps to reach these. Unless you request other level seating we will always put you here. Whilst the seats are plastic as you are outside, they do come with a cushion for added comfort. If mobility is a worry for you, we do have set rows where there is a walkway in front so you are free to stretch out once the opera begins, and you can easily move at the interval without having to climb over other people. Alternatively we can choose an aisle seat for you.
It is worth mentioning that in keeping with the arena’s initial system, the seating still adheres to all odd numbers on one side of the arena and all even on the other, so when you collect your collect your tickets from Hotel Reception when you arrive, if you see Seats 2 & 4 you are still seated together!
12. And the final question that for the Brits comes out the most? What happens if it rains on the opera night(s)?
Normally Verona’s weather is surprisingly regular. In May they experience many days of thunderstorms which then clear out the atmosphere making for a good, hot, dry summer right through beyond September, however, two summer’s past they had what our Italian supplier referred to as a British summer! That season rain did fall in the summer months and some of the operas did not finish as a result.
The arena will do everything it can and will usually stop, take an additional interval, clean up the stage and then try to continue, and conclude the opera later into the night. Another perk of having a hotel within easy walking distance away! However, sometimes this is just not possible. The rule is if the opera starts and goes into the second act before it is rained off then there is no refund. If the weather is so bad the opera cannot start or gets cancelled before the first act has finished then you can either exchange these for an opera the next night or we can refund these tickets.
If you opt for changing the tickets this is dependent on you still being in Verona the next night, there being an opera on you want to see, and still seats available. If you would prefer a refund then you need to contact our suppliers (details are located on the “Contacts” section of your travel plan) and leave the tickets at Hotel reception. Our supplier will then collect the tickets (they are based around the corner) and once they confirm receipt, we will action your refund.
We are hoping that the weather holds, however, it is always best to know worse case scenario, and for this reason we would recommend taking with you a plastic, summer mac. This can fold up small in a bag, and ensures you are fully prepared.
With all the above answered, now all you need to do is dig out the passport and suitcase and look forward to your Verona opera holiday!
Click here for more information on our Verona Opera breaks.