Piazza delle Erbe | Verona City Guide | Things to do in Verona

posted in: Europe, Italy, Verona 20

Once known as the painted city, Verona is an endearing UNESCO World Heritage City in the Veneto region of Northern Italy. A visit to this charming city and you will instantly fall in love with its medieval piazzas! Located just a stone’s throw from the famous balcony of Shakespearean fictional star-crossed lovers is Piazza delle Erbe.

Piazza delle Erbe is one of the two popular historic market squares in the heart of Verona that is two-thousand years old! Surrounded by astonishingly beautiful architecture, Piazza delle Erbe is a bustling market square to shop at the daily market or dine at some of the best restaurants in Verona. A popular meeting point for Veronese since Roman times, it continues to be pivotal for their daily passeggiata. Moreover, many of the streets that cross Verona lead to the square, and you are likely to pass through here either by coincidence or by planning. Piazza delle Erbe should top your list to Verona because it is more than a cultural spot of experience. It is a frequent stop for guided walking tours and bike tours by licensed tourist guides also.

About this post on Piazza delle Erbe

This post sets out brief notes about the history of the square along with a list of the popular attractions within this lively square which you should not miss. There’s a Google map below to support your visit.

You can find Piazza delle Erbe located in Verona at 37121 Verona VR, Italy | GPS location codes: 45° 26′ 20.99″ N,  10° 59′ 29.99″ E

Disclaimer: This Post and all related posts may contain affiliate links. This means that I earn a commission, at no cost to you, if you click on a link and make a purchase. Access full disclaimer here or get in touch with me via Contact form if you have any questions about the companies.

A little about Piazza delle Erbe

Located in the historic centre of a city founded in the first century BC by the Romans, Piazza delle Erbe or “square of herbs” is a long narrow “square” which lies above what was originally a Roman forum.

The forum was a square where two main boulevards (cardus maximus and decumanus maximus) crossed. It is the heart of every Roman city, representing the public, social and economic life of its people. Around the forum sits public palaces such as basilica, administrative buildings and capitolium, the main temple of the city. In the centre of the forum, the square is where people would meet to discuss politics, business, or shop at the market stalls.

Development of the square through the centuries to Piazza delle Erbe

Following the collapse of the Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, the function of the square as a forum changed slightly. While it retained its importance as a socio-economic centre of Verona, the square changed shape and became a smaller and misshaped rectangular. At the centre, developed a market selling spices and herbs. The herbs giving the square its name, Piazza Erbe which literally means Herbs square. Herbs were the prime commodity traded at the time but all sorts of trading took place also.

Modern day Piazza delle Erbe

Through the centuries Piazza delle Erbe developed to be the living heart of the city, both economically and politically. The square is surrounded by beautiful buildings from medieval times, bell towers and there are some significant monuments located within the square as well.

Piazza delle Erbe
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A modern day Piazza delle Erbe, off season 2019

Sailko / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
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Angelo dall’oca bianca, piazza delle erbe, 1903 | Sailko / CC BY-SA

What to expect at the square

A bustling market is very much present these days. You hear the cries of the vendors from the market stalls set-up everyday under the characteristic umbrellas, immortalised by the painter, Angelo Dall’Oca Bianca (picture above). The stalls, perhaps not selling so much spices and herbs but more of fresh fruits and vegetables along with souvenirs. Many grab an espresso or a cappuccino and snacks from nearby cafes and soak-in the atmosphere under the iconic umbrellas.

Pro tip: Explore the flavours of Veronese cuisine at Caffè Dante Bistrot. Their delicious menu is specially prepared by their in-house chef.

During the day the square is crowded mostly with tourists, but in the evening the touristic crowd subsides, making way for a more local crowd observing the traditional Italian social ritual of passeggiata. The boys and girls of Verona, both young and old meet outside the bars that open along the perimeter of the square to have an aperitif and a chat. A bit like the “happy hour” of Veronese of two thousand years ago.

While for most visitors, immersing in the atmospheric Piazza delle Erbe and the Veronese culture of people-watch over a cup of espresso or cappuccino is usually enough, there are some immensely beautiful architecture, monuments and buildings that surrounds the square which should not be missed. Following is a list of some of the highlights of the square. Look-out for these attractions as the Piazza delle Erbe is more than a spot of culture.

What to see, do and experience at Piazza delle Erbe

1 | North of the square

On the northern side of the square sits the ancient town hall, the Torre dei Lamberti, the Casa dei Giudici (Judges Hall) and the splendidly painted Mazzanti Houses. Of these, the highlights are the Torre dei Lamberti and the Mazzanti Houses, but of course, explore the others as well if time permits and if you would like to do so.

1.1 | Torre dei Lamberti

Torre dei Lamberti, Verona
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Torre dei Lamberti, Piazza delle Erbe, Verona | ©mytimelessfootsteps

Torre dei Lamberti, often referred to as the “Tower of Love” is a eight-hundred year old tower that stands at eighty-four metres. It is the tallest building in Verona. As the tallest building in Verona, it offers unrivalled views of the city. To get a 360-degree and unrivalled views of the city, climb the 368 steps to the top of the tower! To know more about the Torre dei Lamberti and for timeless experience, visit this page to explore options.

1.2 | Mazzanti House

Casa Mezzanti, Piazza delle Erbe, Verona | ©mytimelessfootsteps

The Mazzanti House is a group of Renaissance houses that is also one of the oldest in the historic city of Verona. These breathtakingly and beautifully painted houses date back to the middle ages, to the Scagliari (Scala) family.

Today, the Mazzanti House stands testament to what Verona was in the 1500s – urbs picta, a painted city. The ground floor is made up of restaurants serving delicious mouthwatering pastas and seafood linguine (there are lots more on the menu of course 🙂 but these were exceptional) with additional seating on the first floor.

Learn more about the Mazzanti House from this page which includes how to visit and book your stay in one of Veronese most popular hotels.


2 | North-west of the square

From historical documents, it is understood that the ancient Roman Capitol Hill on the north-west of the square looked towards the forum. Many of its buildings, such as the Mazzanti House remained now with its frescoed facade.


3 | West of the square

West of the square is home to the baroque Palazzo Maffei. It was built by the Maffei family in the 17th century. Facing the Palazzo Maffei is a white marble column, St Mark’s Lion, symbol of Republic of Venice . Next to Palazzo Maffei, in the corner is an ancient bell clock-tower, Torre del Gardello.

3.1 | Palazzo Maffei

Palazzo Maffei, Piazza delle Erbe, Verona decorated with statues of Greek gods | ©mytimelessfootsteps

Palazzo Maffei stands on what was once the capitolium of the city. It is a historical palace that has three floors and a rich baroque exterior. Adorned with statues of Greek gods, from the left: Herculese, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, Apollo and Minerva. The richness of the exterior makes it one of the prettiest buildings in the square.

Once a palace and a private residence, the Palazzo Maffei these days is home to a museum showcasing art collections over five centuries.

To be part of every art lovers journey in Verona, view this magnificent art collection. Include a visit to Palazzo Maffei in your Verona itinerary. Learn more about the Palazzo Maffei Museum, Verona from this page where there are useful information to support your travel plans, including opening times and how to purchase your tickets

3.2 | St Mark’s Lion, symbol of the Republic of Venice

Erected in 1524, sitting atop a white marble column is the sculpture of a winged lion holding a copy of the bible. The lion is the symbol of Venice and represents St. Mark, the patron saint of the city. This is symbolic of the Venetian influence in Verona.

St Mark's Lion, Piazza delle Erbe, Verona
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St Mark’s Lion, Piazza delle Erbe, Verona | ©mytimelessfootsteps

3.3 | Torre del Gardello

Located next to Palazzo Maffei is Torre del Gardello also called Torre delle Ore. It is an ancient clock tower dated to around 1206 and stands to a height of forty-four metres. The tower was restored in 1363 when the Scala family came to power in Verona. A big brass bell was installed in the tower in 1370 and sounded on the hour. In 1421 a clock-face was added to the outer wall.

Torre del Gardello, Piazza delle Erbe, Verona

It is regarded as one of the earliest mechanical bell-clocks installed to operate as a public timepiece. The clock ceased to function in 1661 and the bell was removed in later years.

The brass bell is decorated with scenes of San Zeno’s life. It is now displayed in the Castelvecchio Museum, Verona.


4 | South of the square

On the southern side, sits  Domus Mercatorum or Casa dei Mercanti (Merchant’s House), on the corner with Via Pellicciai.

Casa dei Mercanti, Piazza delle Erbe, Verona

The foundation of Domus Mercatorum goes back to 1301 and was built by the influential Scala family when they came into power. The building is made of red bricks and reflects a style typical of the time, with the Ghibelline battlements on top. The ground floor is surrounded by a large porch with arches and columns. Over the centuries, this building had undergone transformation. In 1797, Casa dei Mercanti became the Chamber of Commerce.


5 | Centre of Piazza delle Erbe

5.1 | Fountain of Madonna Verona

In the centre of the square is a landmark and one of Verona’s most important monument, the Fountain of Madonna Verona.

Fountain of Madonna Verona, Piazza delle Erbe, Verona

The 14th century Madonna Verona Fountain was assembled in such a way as to constitute an allegorical representation and a highly symbolic tribute to the city. It is topped by an ancient Roman statue of a female figure, Madonna, not the Virgin Mary, but a medieval queen. Mea domina, “my lady” in Latin, shortened in madonna. It was the title of respect used for noblewomen.

The statue of Madonna Verona, the personification of Verona city, holds a bronze scroll in her hand bearing the civic motto of the City of VeronaEst iusti latrix urbs hec et laudis amatrix, that is “this city is the bearer of justice and lover of praise”.

5.2 | La Berlina ( Tribuna o Capitello)

Simply known as the Berlina, this ancient structure was once used for ceremonial purposes to swear-in the city’s magistrates. There was a chair in stone placed within the four pillars where the new magistrate would sit for his inauguration. However, the Berlina today is not the original one and has gone through transformation.

La Berlina, Piazza delle Erbe which was used as commercial measures.

This stone podium was raised in 1401 and surmounted by an aedicule. It has the Veronese commercial measures marked in lengths and columns. On the steps and on one of the 16th century pillars, the units of measurement in force in Verona since communal government and until the introduction of the decimal system is still visible.

La Berlina | brick measurement | Piazza delle Erbe
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The “mattone” (brick) and the “tegola” (rule) are outlined in one of the steps in the shape of a rectangle. This is where one could check the size of bricks sold in the square.

Any irregularities would result in punishment of heavy fines. There are paving stones in the centre of the square as well which are roughly one metre long and were used to measure exactly how much each stall should pay according to space they occupied.

This is where the bundle of firewood would be placed.

On one of the pillars hangs a chain that held an iron ring which looks like a punishment chain! Contrary to popular assumptions, this was not used for punishments.

The ring could be opened to contain the exact standard of “fascina” – the bundle of firewood placed on sale. Grooves on the same pillar are the standard units of length.

The La Berlina these days aren’t used for measurements of any kind at all. It is a good place to take a rest, let the kids run around or a good photo spot.

6 | Other attractions to take note of

In addition to the above, there are a couple more attractions near Piazza delle Erbe which you may want to experience.

6 .1 | The Whale Bone of Arco della Costa

At the entry point between Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza dei Signori hangs a mysterious whale rib in the centre of the medieval Arco della Costa (Arch of the Rib).

The Whale Bone suspended on an iron chain, Arco della Costa, Verona

The bone is suspended from an iron chain and is said to be hanging there since the 1700s or even before, possibly since the 15th century. No one knows how it got there.  

Legend has it that the bone will fall on the first innocent or truthful person to walk under the archway!

6.2 | Piazza dei Signori

Piazza dei Signori is a significant square in Verona both historically and aesthetically. It is a charming and an elegant square that occupies part of two blocks of the ancient Roman urban grid, close to the ancient forum, now the central Piazza delle Erbe. Architecture here is diverse, Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance. The buildings are connected by arches and walkways.

In the centre of the square stands tall is the statue of Dante. Dante Alighieri, is a medieval Italian poet and philosopher who wrote Divine Comedy. He spent seven years in Verona from 1312 to 1318 following his exile from Florence .

The statue is a symbol of the hospitality Dante received from the powerful and influential Della Scala family. The Piazza dei Signori is often referred to as Piazza Dante by the Veronese. The statue was the work of Ugo Zannoni and was erected in 1865.

Statue of Dante, Piazza dei Signori | Verona | Piazza delle Erbe
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Statue of Dante in Piazza dei Signori

Places to eat at Piazza delle Erbe

As one of Verona’s main attraction and an entertainment square, there’s no shortage of authentic local restaurants at Piazza Erbe. You can easily grab a chair at a table lined alongside the perimeter of the square. Sip a glass of aperitif or sit down with a bowl of truffle risotto with some crunchy bruschetta. Alternatively, dine in for seafood linguine and experience the Veronese hospitality. You will be spoiled for choice here.

However, if you are looking for a special experience where you can dine in style in a medieval palace built in the 1600s and taste the best (really the Best!) truffle risotto or the best lamb chops, then the place you want to be is the Maffei Restaurant. The cellar is said to be one of the best well-stocked in Italy.

The Maffei Restaurant is a very popular restaurant and you must book before hand, at least a month prior, if you want to dine here.

Cellar, Maffei Restaurant, Verona

Contact details:

Maffei restaurant

Piazza Erbe, 38
37121 Verona (VR)
Tel. +39 045 8010015
Fax. +39 045 8005124
info@ristorantemaffei.it

Opening hours:

Summer timetable

From 19.00 to 22.30
Open every day

Saturday and Sunday

From 12.00 to 14.30
From 19.00 to 22.30


Places to stay at and near Piazza delle Erbe

When it comes to selecting a place to stay in Verona, there is an abundance of accommodations to suit every budget. You could select from a wide range of hotels and apartments to suit your itinerary. I have selected three and these are below. For a list of the top 7 places to stay in Verona, go to this page.

Unique experiences when visiting Piazza delle Erbe | Verona

As for things to do, Verona is a wealth of history, architectural delight and a cultural paradise! There are so many things to do here that narrowing of the choices will be a difficult decision. To make your task easier, I have selected some popular activities along with some that I have personally experienced. Peruse them in the comfort of your time. Book the activities just as soon as you know your travel plans. Lock-in your prices and cancel at any time up to 24 hours prior. Here are the selected activities for you to consider:

One thing that I would highly recommend when considering activities to do is to include a day trip to the outskirts of Verona. The Veneto region is popular for its wineries and a visit to the winery is a popular activity amongst tourists. Another area which is popular and a place where I had one of the best experiences is Sirmione and Lake Garda.

Below is a choice of carefully selected day trip activities for you.


Is this post valuable to you in planning your visits to Verona? If so please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you. Scroll all the way down for more ideas and inspiring travel stories. Subscribe to join us at My Timeless Footsteps to receive all the latest news and events. As always, I am contactable at ggdaniel166@gmail.com for any further info or to design your itinerary for you.

Have a splendid time exploring Piazza delle Erbe and Verona 🙂

Georgina xx

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20 Responses

  1. Georgina
    |

    Thank you so so much for your generous and valuable comments. I would really like to provide as much information as I can to travellers so they don’t have to go elsewhere – a complete and thorough guide. I am glad you like them also.

  2. adewyatt
    |

    Absolutely packed with details and information for any tourist or anyone even considering going to this beautiful and romantic city. It also brought back many memories. Georgina your blogs are as good as they get. I love the detail, the factual information, the links, the snippets. There is nothing much more anyone thinking of visiting Verona (or reliving memories) could ask for.

  3. Georgina
    |

    I love history and I keep visiting all these old cities with such rich stories. I can’t help but imagine Erbe’s role as a Roman forum. Amazing experiences from my visit and so glad that you share the awesomeness of this square.

  4. duffelbagspouse
    |

    It’s so amazing that such a small amount of real estate, some old brick or stone, a market and little bit (oh 2,000 years or so) of time can evoke so much emotion– I loved the city of Verona because you can imagine walking in the footsteps of history– thus becoming a part of that history for a future visitor.

  5. Georgina
    |

    It would be an awesome experience to see Aida at the Arena. I hope to do so when the world has a little more normality. Look forward to reading about your experience when you do.

  6. Georgina
    |

    Absolutely easy to reach from Venice. Just means you need to make another trip to northern Italy 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and look forward to your stories

  7. Georgina
    |

    Thank you so much Yukti. Really appreciate that you love the Roman architecture. Verona is a beautiful city of historical gems and is truly picturesque.

  8. Georgina
    |

    Haha..true. That’s a lot we learn from our travels and Verona is one interesting city to explore. Thank you.

  9. Georgina
    |

    Thank you so much for your lovely comments. Piazza delle Erbe is definitely beautiful either by day or night. It is an experience I would highly recommend.

  10. Georgina
    |

    Absolutely! You have said it so well…indeed a little imagination just gives you that much more.

  11. Renata
    |

    I’ve been to Verona and really love the architecture. We also visited the arena on a guided tour and got the see the decoration. Ever since, I wanted to see Aida there 😀

  12. Justine
    |

    I have special memories of Verona and too visits to Italy visit Venice and miss this beautiful town when it’s so easy to reach from Venice.

  13. Yukti
    |

    Pizza Delle Erbe in Verona looks really historical as it existed since 1st century B.C.. Tower of Love in Verona which is tallest looks another amazing things. All Roman architectures here look very stunning and picturesque.

  14. Teja
    |

    How interesting Verona is! Not to mention the Cordoba arches on the Domus Mercatorum – didn’t expect that outside of south Spain. And it’s only today that I learned what ‘Madonna’ actually means!

  15. Slavka
    |

    Piazza delle Erbe is definitely the most beautiful square in Verona! So many beautiful buildings with so many intricate details. Totally love the place and its vibe.

  16. Jay Artale
    |

    I know towns and cities have museums and historical sights to view, but nothing beats wandering around the streets drinking in the atmosphere of the place. Walking the streets where centuries of feet have trodden, and exploring alleys and squares where tradesmen and residents lived and worked. All you need is a bit of imagination to picture the different cultures that made these areas home.

  17. Georgina
    |

    Thank you so much, Ket. Glad you found the detailed post informative about all the things to see in Piazza delle Erbe. Sincerely hope you will visit Verona one day.

  18. Ket
    |

    Never visited Verona, but it’s one of the many Italian cities on my list 🙂 I love, how Italian squares are basically heart of each city. I so love sitting there, enjoying my gelato and watching people. Great detailed information about all the things to see. The Tower fascinates me the most, would love to climb it.

  19. Georgina
    |

    I am glad you did. It is a beautiful town indeed. Hope you will get to go again 🙂 Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I appreciate it.

  20. trip to Rome
    |

    Thanks for your post

    I went one time in Verona ….. (in 1990 !)

    Beautiful town

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