We traveled to beautiful Verona on our way from Florence to Venice. It was Easter Saturday, and there was a big market on. Fortunately it was a lovely sunny day, however that meant there were people everywhere. We didn’t really mind, as we were getting used to the crowds at popular tourist spots.
We arrived near Verona’s Roman Arena, which dates from the first century A.D. It’s the 3rd largest arena in Italy and is made from lovely pink marble. Thanks to its fabulous acoustics, the arena is still used today, hosting an opera festival each summer. You can enter this site for 6 euros, but we had limited time, so we just viewed it from the outside.
We walked through the main street, Via Manzinni, with its beautiful boutiques and marble pavements – just window shopping of course.
We then visited the main square – Piazza Erbe, which was ancient and picturesque, with its pastel-coloured facades and ancient fountains dotted between the market umbrellas.
Next up, it was time to go and see the young lady herself – Juliet. The House of Juliet is purported by some to have been Shakespeare’s setting for Romeo and Juliet. However, there’s been much debate over the years as to whether this is the actual house where the fictional Juliet “lived” … but who knows?!
The romantics among us like to think that Shakespeare was inspired to write the story by a real life couple, one of whom lived in this house. Some people say the House of Juliet is purely a tourist trap, while others claim it’s a “must see” attraction in Verona. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
To find it, there’s no need for a map, you can just follow the crowd along Via Cappello. It seemed like everyone in Verona was trying to visit at the same time as us – it was SO crowded. We slowly made our way into the entrance tunnel, which has white boards on the walls where people from all over the world write messages to their loved ones. These boards are regularly replaced, as they fill up very quickly. The tunnel was packed as tight as a can of sardines, with people pushing and shoving, as this area is the only way in AND out. There must have been several tour groups arrive at the same time, as I saw a couple of guides holding up umbrellas – a dead giveaway that they are rounding up a group. We had to hold hands so we didn’t lose each other!
Inside, the courtyard itself is quite compact, and it was also packed with people. To the right and up one level is the iconic balcony (which apparently isn’t original). Anyway, we got swept up in the romance and legend, as you do, and pretended it was real. A couple even came out on the balcony to kiss while we were watching, which was kinda romantic (for them). Turning to the left, there’s a large iron gate where lovers attach padlocks to seal their love. Others molest the bronze breast of the nearby statue of Juliet in the name of “good luck”. We opted not to molest her, it just felt wrong! 🙂 I tried to get a photo of her, but it was impossible with the crowd.
To the left again is a gift shop, which wasn’t as crowded as the courtyard, so we wandered in there for a break from the hordes of people. We browsed for a few minutes, but most of the items were tacky and/or expensive. When we emerged from the shop, we found that the crowd had died down somewhat and we were able to walk more freely, which was a relief. It was much easier to get out of Juliet’s courtyard than it was to get in.
As you exit the courtyard, there’s an embroidery store to your right. Upstairs is the home of Verona’s Juliet Club, where volunteers reply to letters people write to Juliet about love. This group was highlighted by the moved titled “Letters to Juliet” starring Amanda Seyfried.
Trying to escape the crowds, we wandered back to Piazza Erbe, then headed to Piazza dei Signore, which is known as the “Lords’ Square” and is much quieter than Piazza Erbe. Locals call the square Piazza Dante, as the main attraction is a marble statue of the famed Italian Poet Dane Aligheri. Behind Dante’s statue is a lemon-coloured 15th century Venetian Renaissance-style building called Portico of the Counsel.
We then strolled back to the Piazza outside the Roman Arena, where a food festival was being held. We wandered the stalls until we found a place we liked the look of, then we watched the vendor prepare a focaccia of porchetta (barbecued pork) with lettuce (that’s what you get when you ask for salad!). Anyway, it tasted rather delicious and it was authentic local food.
Afterwards, we wandered through some more stalls, tasting local olives, cannoli and bread. In hindsight, we could have just eaten all the samples we were offered and not bought lunch!! We couldn’t buy much, as we wouldn’t be able to store it while we were traveling – such a shame.
We were rather amused to see a stall selling spices from far-flung places such as Persia, and next to it, there was Murray River salt, all the way from Australia! 🙂
We could have spent a lot more time in Verona. It’s such a pretty place. There are many Roman ruins here, which we didn’t get to explore.
Have you been to Verona? What did you like best about this beautiful city?
The Besties Do Italy series details how Seize The Day Project’s Lyndall and her long time best friend Jane ventured to Italy to celebrate a significant birthday – sans husbands and children. Shhh, don’t tell anyone they’ve gone!
Read more posts in this fascinating series here:
Linking up with My Brown Paper Packages for #WednesdayWanderlust
Also linking up with Outbound Adventurer for #WeekendWanderlust
And also linking up with Albom Adventures for #wkendtravelinspiration