We had a morning for Verona, we wished we had a whole week. A lesser-known jewel of Italy’s Veneto region, this charming city immediately claimed our hearts as we walked through its marble-paved streets following a hand-drawn map of the biggest highlights as recommended by our friendly host at Castion Veronese. It was only by chance, really, that we decided to come here and it turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.
The city is best known as the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Hordes of tourists congregate at Casa di Guilietta to catch a glimpse of Juliet’s balcony and have their picture taken with a bronze statue of the fictional lover down in the courtyard. Custom dictates that if you rub her left breast you will find luck in love. We didn’t do that (after 10 years of marriage, if we’re not lucky in love yet, we never will be!), but instead milled about for a while, watching people pose, kiss in front of the gate filled to the brim with lovers’ locks and scribble romantic messages on the walls.
Afterwards, on our way down to the river, we stumbled upon a market in the Piazza delle Erbe where I bought a tasty treat and Gareth indulged in some souvenir shopping. From there we ambled past Torre dei Lamberti, Verona’s tallest tower, until we found ourselves on the banks of the river Aldige. The 14th century Castelvecchio beckoned, but we’d had enough of art in Florence, so decided to rather appreciate it from afar.
Although not mentioned on our map, we came across the Verona cathedral. Not much for the eye on the outside, the interior overwhelmed with its Gothic marble arches and Renaissance artwork. I particularly liked the main chapel’s white walls highlighting the frescoed dome above.
Verona is also home to an enormous Roman amphitheater which dominates the Piazza Bra. It could host more than 30,000 spectators in ancient times and is still a popular venue for operatic performances. On the other side of the square the remains of an old Roman gate, the Porta Borsari, marks the end of the old town and of our visit.
I’m not sure whether I loved this city so much because it had been my first visit, but I would highly recommend spending a few days here. It seems like the perfect place for two star-crossed lovers to meet.
For more posts in the Ciao Italy 2014 series, click here.