Piazza delle Erbe – An Unmissable Bustling Historic Market Square
Updated: August 7, 2022
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. An ideal place 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.
Timeless Travel Steps BEST TIPS:
1 | Want to learn all about the city that drips in old time romance? Discover its history at every turn – hear it first-hand from a local and you are sure to want to delve deeper.
2 | Why not go a little further with our Best Seller? Discover Verona Food and Wine while seeing all the Highlights and Landmarks of the city, in half-a-day or so led by an expert.
Timeless Travel Steps is supported by my readers. This article and related articles are sprinkled with affiliate links. This means that I may earn a commission from qualified purchases and bookings at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services that I use personally and believe these will add value to my readers’ choices. Your support means a lot to me as it keeps this blog going.
1 | 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.
1.1 | 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.
Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips: Piazza delle Erbe
Eat your way through the city and see all the landmarks in Verona
1.2 | 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.
1.3 | 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 Veronese, 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.
Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips: Piazza Erbe
With the Verona City Card, you will gain Priority Entry to the Verona Arena and the Lamberti Tower along with entry to museums as well as free local transportation – these and so many other benefits. Explore more and pre-purchase before travelling to Verona > Verona City Card.
2 | WHAT TO SEE, DO AND EXPERIENCE AT PIAZZA DELLE ERBE
2.1 | North of Piazza Erbe
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.
2.1.1 | Torre dei Lamberti
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!
READ: All about the Lamberti Tower and explore best options to experience the amazing views over Verona
2.2 | North West of Piazza Erbe
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.
2.2.1 | Mazzanti House
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.
READ: The Mazzanti House. Includes how to visit and book your stay in one of Veronese most popular hotels.
2.3 | West of Piazza Erbe
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 the Republic of Venice . Next to Palazzo Maffei, in the corner is an ancient bell clock-tower, Torre del Gardello.
2.3.1 | Palazzo Maffei
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.
READ: The Palazzo Maffei, a Baroque Masterpiece.
2.3.2 | 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.
2.3.3 | 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.
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.
2.4 | South of the Square
On the southern side, sits Domus Mercatorum or Casa dei Mercanti (Merchant’s House), on the corner with Via Pellicciai.
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.
Subscribe! Stay Connected for the latest on travel with TTS
2.5 | Centre of Piazza delle Erbe
Within the busy setting of Piazza Erbe are some interesting monuments.
2.5.1 | 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.
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 Verona – Est iusti latrix urbs hec et laudis amatrix, that is “this city is the bearer of justice and lover of praise”.
2.5.2 | 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.
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.
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.
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.
2.6 | Other attractions at Piazza delle Erbe 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.
2.6.1 | 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 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!
2.6.2 | 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 standing 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.
3 | 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.
Piazza Erbe, 38
37121 Verona (VR)
Tel. +39 045 8010015
Fax. +39 045 8005124
From 19.00 to 22.30
Open every day
Saturday and Sunday
From 12.00 to 14.30
From 19.00 to 22.30
Read: A Complete Guide to Traditional Food in Verona – 16 Best Dishes to try
4 | 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 greater choices, navigate to the top 7 places to stay in Verona.
5 | When Visiting 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:
5.1 | Walking Tours
Discover the charms of the cobbled streets and monuments in medieval Verona entwined with folklores and secrets by joining a walking tour. There are several to choose from. My personal preference is the moonlight walking tour along with the food and wine walking tour.
Read along for the 9 Charming Walking Tours and select the best to suit your itinerary.
5.2 | Verona by Bike
Explore the delightful old town in a fun and relaxed way – on two-wheels!
Cycling in Verona is safe as it offers dedicated cycle lanes. It is cost-effective and flexible to suit pretty much whatever you decide to experience. Drop-off points are conveniently located.
The are 6 popular tours by bike in Verona but the 2 most popular are the Amarone Countryside and Verona + sunset tour.
Read more about the 6 popular cycling tours in Verona
5.3 | Verona Wine from the Hills of Garda
Known as the crossroad of the European wine trade, the tradition of wine-making is rich in this city. One of the high-end wines comes from the Valpolicella region, a province located on the east of Lake Garda. A visit to a Valpolicella winery is highly encouraged as it is special , rewarding, and offers exceptional wine tasting opportunities with so much to learn from a professional sommelier.
1 | An Incredible Valpolicella Winery Visit.
5.4 | Day Trips from Verona
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.
6 | The following articles may also be helpful to you
on a final note …
My sincere wish is that this post is valuable to you in planning your visits to Verona. If so I would love to hear from you. If you find my recommendations useful to your travels, please use the links embedded in this post and related post to book your flights, rail, places to stay and activities to do. TTS earns a commission from qualifying purchases at no cost to you at all. As always your support is much appreciated.
Have a splendid time exploring Piazza delle Erbe and Verona 🙂
ESSENTIALS FOR VERONA, ITALY
From Verona Airport (VRN) to Verona City Centre/hotel
City of Verona Guide — Your One-Stop Resource
31 Very Best Things to do in Verona
Where to Stay in Verona — Best Places to Stay in Verona
Food in Verona – Best 16 Traditional Dishes to Try or to Know about when visiting Verona
Wine in Verona | Best Garda Wines
An Incredible Valpolicella Winery Visit in Verona
Verona by Bike — 6 Fun Cycle Tours
9 Charming Walking Tours in Verona
BEST EUROPEAN CITIES DESTINATIONS
Amsterdam | The Netherlands
Charming City London | United Kingdom
Don’t fancy a DIY vacation? Hakuna matata! We all need different experiences and/or a combination of both – where someone takes care of everything. These guys are great at organising all-in-one package holidays/vacations. Take a look…
PIN ‘Piazza delle Erbe | Verona City Guide | Things to do in Verona’ on Pinterest
Piazza delle Erbe | Verona City Guide | Things to do in Verona first published at timelesstravelsteps.com and is regularly edited & updated. Latest update Aug 7, 2022
Stay Connected with Timeless Travel Steps for the latest in our Travel News
FOLLOW TIMELESS TRAVEL STEPS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Thank you so much Rick 🙂 Verona is beautiful and yes, there are so many places to hike to or to do a bike ride! I am so glad to know that reading my blog on Piazza delle Erbe and Verona has inspired you to curate a future visit at some point. Many thanks for stopping by and a pleasure to have your visit.
Your photos are absolutely stunning! This is a perfect hiking destination. Reading your blog has certainly made me think of curating a future plan at some point.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Haha..true. That’s a lot we learn from our travels and Verona is one interesting city to explore. Thank you.
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.
Absolutely! You have said it so well…indeed a little imagination just gives you that much more.
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 😀
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks for your post
I went one time in Verona ….. (in 1990 !)