Colle San Pietro has earned its reputation as one of Verona’s must-see destinations. It is here that one of the most beautiful monuments in the city, the Roman theatre, can be visited as part of the renovated archaeological museum. The theatre is one of Verona’s most spectacular and photographed spots, with its cypresses, its stairways, and the houses clinging to the hillside. The top of the hill, where the large terrace belonging to Castel San Pietro is found, offers one of the most beautiful views over Verona, with the wide curve of the Adige, the old town with its geometric grid of streets, and the soaring bell towers.
And now there is yet another reason to visit the hill: the grand opening (or should it be re-opening?) of the new funicular. Although it is referred to as a “funicolare” by the people of Verona, the vehicles are not actually driven by cables, instead using a rack railway system to climb to the top of the hill in under a minute (at two euros for a return ticket), avoiding the steep but incredibly picturesque climb up the steps that wind their way through historic houses, well-kept gardens and Roman ruins. Look at it this way: on an unbearably hot day, when the sun is directly overhead, when your legs are crying out for a break and you do not want your shirt to be drenched in sweat, the funicular is a great alternative, allowing you to discover one of the most beautiful places in Verona.
There are few people left who remember the inauguration of the first Castel San Pietro funicular. It was an ill-fated opening for a project that was designed to draw tourists to one of the city’s main attractions. The idea was first presented in the 1930s, construction started in 1939, and the funicular was completed and opened to the public in 1941. However, this was far from the best time to attempt to relaunch tourism in the city; World War II had thrown Europe into chaos, and Italy was no exception. By 1944, the experiment was as good as finished. The funicular was dismantled, the site became overgrown with weeds, and it would not be spoken of for decades to come.
It was not until the 2000s that the funicular made its way back into the public consciousness. Having found the money needed to rebuild it, a new version of the project and the works was once again undertaken. Finally, in mid-2017, the funicular was reopened. Located beyond the Ponte Pietra, the entrance to the funicular is fairly inconspicuous; walking along Via Santo Stefano, there is a small square on the right, where the brand new building that houses the ticket office is found.
As we mentioned earlier, the funicular is a great new opportunity to discover the beauty of Colle San Pietro. The Roman theatre, which dates back to the first century AD, is still one of the city’s most important live venues (after the Arena, of course), showcasing performances including prose, with a particular focus on Shakespeare, as well as music and dance. There are also several nooks and crannies on the hill where you can sneak a peek without buying a ticket, and if you decide to take a stroll on the night of a concert, you will see groups of people perched on steps and balustrades. What’s more, the road to the hill is closed to traffic when there is a show on, offering a great opportunity to enjoy a stroll along the Adige on the path known as the Lungadige di San Giorgio, which was recently repaved (remaining a pedestrian-only route).
Connected to the Roman theatre, the Archaeological museum was also recently refurbished, allowing you to discover the original core around which the city was founded, dating back even further than the Roman city. No visit is complete without a stop on the terrace at the summit of the hill to check out the incredible view; a unmissable chance to take a selfie with the city spread out behind you. And then, thanks to the funicular, you can be back on solid ground in less than a minute.