I got to Verona sort of accidentally. We wanted a cheaper flight for Venice and a stop there seemed to be the best option. And since we hadn’t seen the city before we decided to spend a day. Naturally, all I knew about Verona before doing some research was that it’s the place where Juliet’s so called balcony is to be found.
Turns out Verona has got much more than that. To me it looked like a small scale Rome. Small scale if you consider the size of the city, not its monuments. Because Verona is home to one of the world’s largest surviving amphitheaters, the Verona Arena. Luckily for the people of the city, the place is very well preserved and usually hosts all sorts of concerts, and I suspect it’s quite an experience listening to let’s say Tosca on such an impressive stage, on a midsummer’s night.
Just like Rome, Verona has a river winding through it, called Adige, many bridges crossing that river and a nice castle, Castelvechio, overlooking it.
Since we were there only for one day, we chose to walk on through and catch a site of all we could. The city center is very compact so we had no problems in doing that. I really liked the central street, Via Mazini, which is paved with the original Verona marble. I must say the pavement look so nice and shiny that it made me think it would be wonderful to walk it barefoot. This is the main artery of the old city, leading the way from Piazza Bra to Piazza delle Erbe. I must say I liked the feel of it both during the day, when it was flooded with people and showing off its inviting shops, and during the evening, when it becomes quite peaceful and even romantic.
Speaking of romance, there is almost a cult dedicated to Romeo and Juliet going on in Verona. It’s quite a spectacle to get to Juliet’s house on a weekend day and see the crowds swarming around the statue in the courtyard, waiting in line to touch her left breast (for luck in love) or to go up to the balcony, leaving notes and locks around, or writing messages on the walls of the house. On a Monday morning however, it’s rather quiet and maybe then you can put aside the commercial image of it all and dream for a moment of Shakespeare’s drama. There is also a so called house of Romeo somewhere around the city, as well as Juliet’s tomb, but I didn’t really look for them.
Instead I walked around some more admiring the lovely windows you can find all over the city, that made me think of a mix between what I had seen in Venice and what I believe you would find in certain oriental countries.
You can get a great view from the top of the city if you pay for the ticket and climb up Torre dei Lamberti (289 steps) or for free, if you take a nice stroll across the river and up the hill on the other side. I have to mention probably the best lasagna i’ve ever had, at Caffe al Teatro.
Verona is not an impressive city. It is no Rome or Venice or Florence. But is a lovely destination, full of history and romance, and can definitely represent a nice place to spend a weekend sometimes in spring or autumn, especially if you get a chance to enjoy a concert on the arena.