Verona…. Where for art thou?

Verona was not on our list of places to visit this trip, but when looking at a map in Venice and scanning a radius of around one and a half hours drive it stood out as a logical choice both in terms of distance and direction. We were so happy it was on our route, such a great city with a lot of history and we really enjoyed our time there.

There is a little camp ground pressed right up against the inside of the city walls at the top of the hill near Castel San Pietro. The camp site was not set up for vans as big as ours but we squeezed in. The best views of the city are from San Pietro’s terrace and access to the city centre is via 200 or so steps from there.

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The end of town that we accessed from, via Ponte Pietra over the fast flowing Fiume Adige, had lots of road works and construction underway, so at first we were not immediately drawn to love the place, but, as we headed further south into the town centre it became more and more alluring.

One of the first things we came across was the Chiesa Del Duomo, the church itself is very impressive with an opulent gold organ and unique painted dome, but more curious were the chapels to the rear where the floors had been dug up to reveal the lower floors of the original church structures, more than 1,300 years old.

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Next was the Chiesa Di Santa Anastasia which was quite plain from the outside but with a unusual almost checker patterned cathedral ceiling inside.

It’s at the Piazza Delle Erbe though where the character of the city really starts to be noticed, with a large open air market with a fountain and an old lock stock platform for chaining up the crooks, overlooked by the grand Palazzo Maffei (a palace) on one side and the Torre Dei Lamberti (a clock tower) on the other, and right nearby are two more very impressive squares. It seems like there are statues watching you from every angle. We sat here eating freshly cut fruit salad from the market and taking in the atmosphere, which was very relaxed with many people enjoying their Spritz out in the open in the heat of the day.

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Once refreshed we headed straight for Casa Di Guilietta, or the house of Juliette from the famous Romeo and Juliette! The tunnel that enters the property is completely covered in graffiti, nearly all of it is by people declaring their love, but to gain their own spot amongst the other scrawlings they stick their chewing gum to the wall spread it flat and write on it!!! Apparently the next phase of restoration is cleaning up the graffiti and the many layers of gum!!!! Hundreds of people from tour groups cram into the little courtyard in front of the house to photograph the famous balcony where Romeo supposedly courted Juliette, they come in waves, following their leaders umbrella, so that the courtyard occupancy varies from a dozen or so to a hundred or so every few minutes. Luckily for us, 99% of the visitors where happy to just squeeze in, take their photo and squeeze back out, with about 1% actually entering the house, so it was nearly empty inside, there was no waiting or pushing required to actually stand on the balcony rather than just photograph it and you could spend time in each room completely alone. With the exception of Skye being delayed by the ticket Ladies who took a liking to Tess and followed her around to get their share of smiles and waves, they were nice and Tess was in the right mood to play up to their attention. The Capulet house was large, 5 levels, but not overly opulent inside, it has been restored but still has original Capulet insignias above the fireplaces and a bedroom, supposedly Juliette’s, is fitted out with the actual furniture from the original movie. I think the most interesting fact is that the balcony itself is a re-used sarcophagus (ancient stone tomb), hundreds of years old but of unknown origin.

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Once we had our fill of Romeo and Juliette (unfortunately Juliette’s Tomb was closed to visitors) we continued our wanderings and eventually came to the huge Anfiteatro Arena (Colosseum), it’s hundreds of years old and still complete and in use, in fact it was gearing up for an Opera called Carmen that very night! We were extremely keen to take the kids to see the Opera here but it didn’t start until 9:15pm and ran for 4 hours so it would not have worked and was not to be. They do run regular performances of Romeo and Juliette which would be absolutely fantastic to take the kids to if we ever get back here when they are much older.

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The walk back up the steps to the Castel and the camp ground was slow after being on our feet all day in town, so we were happy for Tess to take on another challenge of a slow independent climb to the top, also there’s a little park about half way up with a nice view and cold fountain.

We saw many more sights here on our wanderings, the main street is completely lined with marble for example, but these were the most memorable. I would definitely recommend a visit to Verona for anyone in the vicinity of Venice or Milan, it’s about half way between the two, you don’t have to be into Shakespeare to love it, but if you’re intrigued by the story and the history it makes it all the more worthwhile.

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One Response to Verona…. Where for art thou?

  1. rommel says:

    Like you, Verona was our immediate stop. Unlike you though, It was unfortunate that I didn’t get to explore Verona. We only get to see Juliet’s balcony. I, myself, didn’t go inside and take the tour. No biggie, it was when we hit Pisa, Venice, San Martino and Verona during a three-day Columbus Day weekend.
    I remember that fountain. 😀 they have a market around it.

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