Juliet: “Goodnight, goodnight! Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.”
– Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
First, let me say that Verona is not-to-be-missed. I honestly can’t remember how long Verona has been on my travel wish list. That said, take my advice, if possible do not go in summer; it’s incredibly crowded. And, another suggestion, try to stay for more than a day or two. OK, that said…I was only able to stay for a day in summer…I still loved it and I long to return for a more leisurely visit.
With over 250,000 residents, Verona is the second largest city in Veneto after Venice, and the second most popular – hence the crowds. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site is testimony to Verona’s irresistible beauty and historical importance.
We can’t talk about Verona without talking about the Scala, the prominent (and reputedly cruel) family that dominated Verona for over 127 years in 13th and 14th century. The Scaligieri family extended their rule and power far into the Veneto region. Impressive family tombs, with their unmistakable family crest displaying a ladder (scala in Italian) attest to their influence.
Another unmistakable symbol visible in this historic town is the lion of Venetian rule. Before uniting with the rest of Italy in 1866, Verona was also ruled by Milan, France, and Austria. Today you can still admire the Colonna di Lion in Piazza Erbe, in the heart of Verona. Also in this stunning and historic Piazza, where Dante looks down upon the bustling scene (can’t help but wonder what he would think?) a dazzling array of shops, stalls, sidewalk cafes and art galleries that will make your mind spin! All I can say is bring your credit cards! And there’s more (shopping and sights, that is)…
It’s a good thing that the heart of central Verona is primarily a pedestrian zone because it is crowded and it’s challenging enough to dodge bicyclists and other tourists distracted by the myriad shops. If you can resist, just window shopping (and people watching) is entertaining…so much eye candy!
Verona’s renowned Roman arena is one of her most famous sights. Almost 2000 years old, it has the distinction of not only being in remarkable condition, but it is the third largest amphitheater in the world. It has hosted everything from gladiatorial battles to bullfights but, thankfully, today it is a popular venue for tamer amusements! (Be sure to check the admission days and hours as to avoid being disappointed.)
Verona = Romance; star crossed lovers, at the least, two gentlemen, si? Of course, we must give Shakespeare his due and visit Casa di Giulietta, where Romeo gazed up into the eyes of his beloved Juliet. (Guess no one cares where the two gentlemen of Verona lived?) Turned out not to be the inspirational, special visit I’d hoped for (like in the movie, “Letters from Juliet”)…not only is the narrow passageway into the tiny courtyard absolutely covered with graffiti (sad), but the courtyard itself is jam-packed…crowded (and I mean C-R-O-W-D-E-D).
One can’t help but wonder what Will would say about all of the fuss? Well, he would probably first attest to the fact that there’s no evidence that this really is Juliet’s balcony. But really, who cares?
The attraction is undeniable. Juliet’s statue stands stoically and poses while hopeful romantics snap photos and take turns touching her breast for good luck in love. Oh, the indignity of it all…but, of course, I do, too. After all, why take a chance? And you can even take home souvenir memorabilia …yep, you guessed it…I couldn’t resist that either…(I call it supporting the local economy!)
We have a little time left and there’s one last place we must visit before we parting… Si! My first gelato of the trip! Delicious pistachio gelato at Savoia! Now, that’s a happy ending! Buonissimo!
Have you visited Verona? Would you like to? If so, what did you enjoy the most? If not, what do you want to see?