In this daytime photo you can see the various seating categories in the Arena of Verona. The most expensive seats look white in the photo because they are protected during the day by heavy white plastic covers. These are the “Poltronissime” seats or first sector stalls, now subdivided into “Poltronissime GOLD” at € 208 per seat (prices as of 2019) and normal “Poltronissime” at
€ 175. (These are the Friday and Saturday prices. On other days they cost a bit less.)
The red seats are the “Poltrone” or 2nd sector stalls, which cost € 132 on Fridays and Saturdays.
The grey seats on the lower half of the steps are the “poltroncina numerata di gradinata” or numbered seats on the steps, which cost € 114 or € 91 in the middle sections (depending on how high up they are) and EUR 68 on the sides.
Here’s what these grey numbered seats on the steps look like. They aren’t padded, so you might want to bring or rent a cushion, but at least they have a back rest and they are reserved.
The top sections are the “Gradinata” or unreserved stone steps, which is where I sat. On Fridays and Saturdays these cost € 26 for the middle sections D and E and for the side sections C and F. The far-forward sections B and G used to cost € 12, but they are no longer listed in the 2019 price list.
The Arena regulations have this to say about the dress code: “The audience in the stalls and on the numbered seats on the steps are required to dress appropriately in the Arena.”
They don’t say what “appropriately” means. I had heard rumors that these folks down in the expensive seats (Poltronissime) would dress up very formally, like in black suits and evening gowns, but as you can see from my photo this is not true. They are mainly wearing slacks and a shirt or blouse just like the rest of us, though I guess the percentage of white shirts is greater down there.
Some of them sensibly have sweaters or shawls over their shoulders, in case it starts getting cooler around midnight.
I did see one man wearing a tuxedo or some such (not on the photo), but I expect he felt overdressed.
The ushers downstairs wear snappy blue blazers, with blue and yellow ties for the men and scarves for the woman. This is to set them off from their colleagues up in the unreserved sections who just get a blue blouse or shirt to wear, with no tie or scarf.
Note that Gate 1 is fitted out with a red carpet and fancy red curtains, which is not the case for the gates leading to the upper sectors.
On my first evening (Aida), sector D was already quite full when I got up there at about eight o’clock, an hour before show time.
I was greeted by a young usher in a blue blouse who asked everybody how many there were who wanted to sit together. Anyone who said three or four was sent off to the left and UP, where her colleague kept holding up different numbers of fingers to tell her how many free seats he had found.
When I said ONE she grinned and said she had a great seat for me, right close by in the second row. And there was indeed a free place in the middle of that row, where an older Danish woman from the row before had thought she could lean against the stone wall because no one was sitting there.
So I found myself sitting next to a young German woman who was seeing her first opera ever. But she had done her homework — read the story and listened to the recording with Placido Domingo as Ramades.
Her boyfriend was sitting right in front of her, so he could lean his back against her legs. At each intermission they changed places, so the other could have the benefit of a backrest. (Someone at home had advised them to do this.)
On my second evening one of the young male ushers got into a heated argument with an older Italian woman who was sitting one row behind me.
Although I have never really learned Italian and don’t normally understand it very well, in this case I was able to get the gist of the argument because they were speaking very loudly (right over my head) and because they both kept repeating themselves, which of course is very helpful for a foreign language learner.
He said (over and over) that she should move her bag to make room for one more person on the stone step next to her.
She said (over and over) that there was no need for that, because there were plenty of free seats further up.
He said (over and over) that it was still an hour before show time, and that thousands of people were still coming. (Which turned out to be true.)
She said (over and over) that one little bag wouldn’t make any difference.
He said (over and over) that he had to enforce the regulations.
She said (over and over) that he shouldn’t be so pedantic about the regulations.
He said (over and over) that it was his job to make sure everybody got a seat.
She said (over and over) that she wasn’t going to move her bag and there wasn’t anything he could do about.
And on and on, until eventually he gave up and left.
An Italian man sitting next to me felt sorry for the young usher and later struck up a conversation with him — found out that he was a student who earned 700 Euros per month (not very much) by ushering six nights a week at the Arena during the summer.
Contrary to popular belief, there really are a few toilets in the Arena di Verona. But they are all at ground level, and are accessible in the evenings only to the people in the most expensive reserved seats.
If you are sitting higher up on the unreserved stone steps, your only option is to leave the Arena and go out to the temporary toilets that have been set up out on one of the adjoining streets. Depending on where you are sitting, this could be quite time consuming, so if you think this might be a problem you might try to sit in section F, which is the closest one to the external toilets.
Logically enough, you have to take your ticket with you when you go out, so you can get back in.
This photo, which I took during the daytime, shows the entrances to the toilets inside the Arena at ground level. The white signs say “Toiletta”.
Here’s the entrance to the external toilets (of the Mediterranean squat-in variety) which have been set up on the street in front of Gate 59 (section F). I took this photo late at night after one of the performances, so I don’t know how full these get during the intermissions.
My photos in this post are from 2006. I revised the text in 2018.