The striking Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore is just as famous for its pink-and-white pastel color scheme as it is for hosting the marriage scene in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. A lasting example of Romanesque architecture, the building—parts of it, at least—dates back to the 9th century AD.
The ice cream–colored Basilica and the Benedictine monastery next door were both constructed to honor St. Zeno, the patron saint of Verona, who died in 380 AD, and there has been a church on the site for more than 1,500 years. Parts of the current building date back to the 9th century, but the structure, like many buildings in Verona, was damaged in an earthquake and subsequently rebuilt and expanded to its present-day size. Its ornate facade is built from cream-colored local tufa stone inlaid with pink marble.
Inside, the massive carved bronze doors are a highlight for many visitors exploring the church as part of a guided tour. The striped walls, vaulted ceilings with intricate decoration, and painted panels depicting biblical scenes will delight fans of Romanesque architecture.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Entrance to the basilica is via paid ticket unless you’re taking part in mass.
- Pick up a Verona card to save money on the entrance fee to this church and other attractions.
- Join a guided tour to learn more about the marriage scene from Romeo and Juliet, and why Shakespeare chose to set it in the crypt here.
- The nearly 2,000-year-old remains of St. Zeno can be found in the crypt.
How to Get There
The Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore is located around a 15-minute walk outside the city center. Visitors can travel by public bus or take the hop-on-hop-off tour buses that operate in the city (Line A stops nearby). Alternatively, guided bike tours of Verona also stop here.
When to Get There
The Basilica is open daily, with opening schedules dependent on mass and other events. It’s busiest on weekends, particularly Sunday afternoons, so plan to visit during the week for a quieter experience.
Stroll along the Adige River
The Basilica is located close to the banks of the Adige river, which flows through the center of Verona. It’s the second longest river in Italy, rising in the Alps before flowing out to sea south of Venice. A stroll along its banks through central Verona is a great way to see the city’s buildings and bridges from a new angle; the experience is especially pleasant at sunset when the low sun turns the buildings golden.