A Day Trip to Verona
In fair Verona where we lay our feet, 2 ladies get off the train from Venice to wander the streets in amongst a city that is beautiful and holds many places to see.
This has a place I have wanted to visit for an age, it looked like a special spot to visit in Italy from the Arena that is ancient, the rolling hills it is nested in and not to mention Juliet’s Balcony. So we headed from Venice to Verona for the day, chasing the sunshine and the Tuscan life style. From Venice it takes around 1 hour & 10 minutes, then followed by actually quite a nice stroll into the city centre taking around 18 minutes or you can get multiple buses to Piazza Bra. Personal I walk as I get to feel local life and not get stressed not knowing where the final stop is on the bus.
You need to begin your day in the heart of Verona at Piazza Bra, you get your first impression of this Square as you walk through the citadel arches Portoni della Bra leading into the city, make sure as you pass through the arch and to your left you will see William Shakespeare’s bust setting your scene for the day. The Piazza is a pedestrian area with many locals enjoying the restaurants and enjoying the sunshine. Now the highlight of the piazza is the Roman Arena that has been there since the 1st Century AD and has been used consistently till now where there are spectacular Opera Performances (which began during the Renaissance), to a summer festival Arena di Verona Festival every year even including Rock shows such as Adele, Bjork and Muse. To be honest why am I not there at the moment watching a spectacular Opera show. Soon I’ll see the perfect one.
A wander around the Arena is a must, it is an incredible feet of Roman Architecture as you get to step back in time and witness how it has evolved during its millenniums. To visit the Arena I would suggest purchasing the Verona Card which offers you 24 hours €20 or 48 Hours €25 to visit all the iconic sights of Verona which in the long run will save you money and time. This is easy bought at any of your first stops of the day at the ticket office.
We strolled into the heart of the city within the city walls, we got to witness the charm from the locals, the shops and the cityscape. We headed to what I was aching to see; the place that inspired so many love stories, poets, songs and films.
Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s Balcony) the place where Juliet spoke to the stars about her Romeo…. “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?” It is such an incredible and unique place, and not at all what you would imagine. As you enter the courtyard the walls are covered in love letters to Juliet and to their loved ones,including some attached with chewing gum. There is a sense of love in the atmosphere; many line up to rub the statue of Juliet for good luck in love but that is not why I am here, I wanted to be in a place that inspired Shakespeare and has inspired love for centuries.
You can actually visit the Casa di Giulietta (use your Verona Card for entry) which I really enjoyed, as you are able to step into a Renaissance home with the original costumes from the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet, with views of Verona from the roof tops but the highlight of course is being able to step onto the Balcony that inspired all love stories and look down at the courtyard below. It is either best to visit the Casa early in the morning or during the lunch period as there is minimal crowds.
Now for an important lunch break, we always like to find a locals place and I think we did really well by discovering a delicious Pizzeria around the corner for Casa di Giulietta. Little Italy had a huge menu with traditional and local tastes to try, we were not disappointed with our meal at all.
A gateway to visiting the rest of the city is by pit-stopping in the Piazza delle Erbe which is home to many beautiful things. It has been an important square for an age with town halls, palaces, roman forums and markets which still are there to this day. There are many things to see in the Square like the Torre dei Lamberti (which has stood there since the 1100s), Palazzo Maffei covered in Greek Gods, homes with balconies covered in green with baroque paintings all over it and not to forget the St Marks Lion on a column in the centre of the Square. We enjoyed shopping at the markets and watching the world go by.
We had a glorious stroll through the twist and turns of the city as we made our way towards Il Duomo - Complesso della Cattedrale. Il Duomo is a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic Architecture, which is unique piece in the city with its striped exterior and its ceiling with golden gems and an altar of white marble. Don’t forget to take in the cloisters that lead you to the Chapter Library which is one of the oldest in the world. It cost €6 which allows you to explore the 4 churches within the complex.
Our goal destination for the day was to get to Castel San Pietro which offers stunning views of the surrounding area. By crossing the Ponte Pietra, which has been in this place since 100 BC built by the Romans to cross the Adige River. The bridge was blown up by German Forces during WW2 but it was rebuilt in 1957 with the original materials. I found it a stunning place to stand looking around at the River, up towards Castel San Pietro and then city walls of Verona that have stood there for an age, during our view to top it all off there was a man would had brought a piano from home playing wonderful musical pieces as we slow motioned strolled across the bridge, it was a perfect cinematic moment.
To reach the top of the hill we grabbed the Funicolare di Castel San Pietro, not at all due to laziness but it was the perfect opportunity to begin to take in the sights. The Funicular is not part of the Verona Card, for a single trip up the hill it cost €1. To be honest there isn’t much to do at the Castel San Pietro but that is not why you want to be here. You want those incredible views, they are spectacular. We sat upon a bench just enjoying the landscape & cityscape of Verona, seeing how far we could look and just enjoying the sounds of the city below us with the bells ringing and the people living there life. The Cyrus trees rustling as they dance in the wind and the birds flying in and out of the trees, the sun shone glorious for us during that moment.
Down the hill we went, we had one more thing to see that we had had glimpses of all day and that was the Museo Archeologico al Teatro Romano. Now this is a wonder of juxtaposition of history, lets begin at the oldest part that catches your eye. The Roman Amphitheatre dates back to the 1st Century BC, it is still in use today during the Summer season making it one of the most important Roman Theatres in Northern Italy. I would love to take in a show there as the backdrop would be incredible, but if you are not able to see a show this theatre is a wonderful place to discover as you climb up atop of the stalls to witness the views around and the location that has been created. A Convent was built on top of it too in the 15th Century with a church on the edge of the Theatre. The Convent now holds an incredible museum with many artefacts of Verona’s Ancient past stored inside, from Etruscan urns to Mosaic Floors and Egyptian Statues this is a great example of restoring history to the modern age.
Sadly as we where only there for a day we didn’t get to see everything we wanted such as Porta Borsari and Castel Vecchio Bridge as we adore discovering the past. These will most certainly be on the list when we get to go back to Verona soon.
Verona was an incredible place to explore, you could easily have a weekend away here enjoying the lifestyle that the locals live. As we slowly walked back to the train station to Venice we got to see that it is a pretty nice life to live here with friendly locals and stunning architecture, this town in the North of Italy will take your breath away even in the moments you don’t expect it to, as the city said goodbye to us we got to witness one of the most incredible sunsets I have ever seen. So if Verona is not on your list of places to visit, I hope it is now.