Verona

The city began in a typical way, as a Roman settlement where trade routes from Rome to the northern and western Europe would cross.  The advantageous location helped the city remain independent and influential during the period of Italy fragmentation into several city-states.  Verona reached the peak of its historical importance under the Scaligeris. Several of the city's most magnificent buildings date to the 100-years old period of the Scaligeris.  In the 15th Century, Verona found itself under the influence of Venice, then at the peak of its power as naval and trade city-state.

Your first steps in Verona will most probably lead you to the city's trademark, the amazingly intact Arena, dating back to the 1st Century AD.  Apart from being a stunning architecture in itself, the Arena serves today as the setting for operas, watched by up to 20,000 spectators.  Another bonus from visiting the Arena is the perfect panorama of the city, viwed from the monument's highest seat row.  The Arena is certainly one of Italy's premiere entertainment venues.

Another trademark of Verona is Casa di Giuletta, or the house of Juliet - the same that Shakespeare immortalized in his Romeo and Juliet. Truth be told, as the two feuding families of Montagues and Capulets existed, the two famous lovers never did.

After seeing the above two monuments (plus countless others, like the 14th-century Castelvecchio, the Old Castle), you may turn to something more down to earth, yet still chic enough to be unusual experience.

It is worth walking Via Mazzini, a pedestrian-only lane that gathers shops with top quality Italian design.

Of the local products of note, pay close attention to excellent wines.

Like many of the northern Italy's cities positioned near the Alps, Verona is a good point from which to explore the Alps with all their skiing resorts.  It also lies close to another natural beauty - the Lake Garda.  In the city itself, it is worth to get away from its hustle and bustle by taking a walk along the Adige river.