Oh Verona, we had very little expectations for this very little Italian town. I knew of a few places I wanted to visit, namely those inspired by Shakespeare, but otherwise we were content to make this small village a playground of rest after our first 2 weeks in Paris and London.
We were staying at an Air BnB up on the hill just above the northern most crest of the Adige river. Of all the places we stayed, this boasted THE BEST view of the city. We had arrived at night and managed to get ourselves to the house with enough time to great Maria and her son (our gracious hosts) who tucked us in and ensured us that the morning would bring us much delight when we opened our patio doors. They did not lie. This was our view when we woke the next day...
I'd say its not a bad gig if you're into that sort of - panoramic Italian beauty - and we totally were. After having our complimentary first morning breakfast out on our terrace, we strolled down the winding road to explore this ancient city.
With our trusty map in hand we found ourselves in the center of Verona, amidst old cathedrals and decorated homes. I was surprised to find the city still full of people, visitors and locals all wondering about the various alleys even in the rain. It was a quiet scene, however, when compared to the other more densely populated places we visited.
We wove through the streets, dodging the rain as we could, until the clouds parted and we emerged in the heart of the city, the Piazza delle Erbe. This central square is home to an array of restaurants, stores (my favorite was Amelia) as well as the Torre dei Lamberti. We stopped for a while to soak in our surroundings and find a quick spot for some lunch. And by lunch I mean gelato.
We spent about an hour in the plaza, peering into the shops and scoping out a potential spot for dinner. What we loved about Verona was that even amidst the bustle in the square everything felt so intimate and local. It felt as if we were among the natives going about our weekday errands in front of the most beautiful back drop. What makes Verona special is that it has all the old world charm you hope to find in an ancient Italian city but without the larger crowds and flashy tourist spots. We wanted to make sure we didn't miss any of the rich history of this town and so we made our way to the Arena di Verona. This arena is amongst the oldest in Italy, dates back to AD 30 and today still serves as a concert venue (hello Lizzie McGuire).
Walking towards the Arena is truly breathtaking. A large arcade of buildings surrounds the Arena and visitors are able to walk around the amphitheater for about 15 Euros. As the Arena is even older than the Colisseum and since it is still used today, we knew we had to see the infrastructure for ourselves.
Located in the center of Verona, the Arena provided us with a great launching point to explore the city further. It was so neat, not only to climb the historic steps of the Arena but to also see the incredible vista from the top. We checked our map and made the right decision to explore what is likely the best known secret of Verona, Juliet's balcony and love letter wall.
This tiny little house off the Via Cappello was packed with people trying to get a photo with the bronze statue or enter the house for a peak at the famous balcony. This 14th century estate claims to be the home of Juliet but is in fact a tourist attraction and now a museum for the beloved tale. As a fan of Shakespeare, I was very excited to experience and pay homage to one of the most famous love stories in the world. Jeff and I decided to take our own turn as a virtual Romeo and Juliet but with a far less tragic ending. This would be my first and only solo adventure of the trip, as I paid the small fair to enter and tour the house so that I could look down on my Romeo and of course - get the shot.
Our first full day in Verona was magical to be sure and after a quick dinner we headed back up towards our house to catch the sunset over the city. It was one of my favorite memories of our trip, that dusky walk across the river. It was a beautiful and restful moment before we left at twilight for our next Italian adventure - VENICE. Stay tuned for more and Al Italia!
~ A ~