Europe / Italy / Travel

Verona : The Medieval City of Love

March 2012.

To be honest, Verona was never on my list. I’m not a fan of Romeo&Juliet, so it’s not really a must visit place for me. It was only because we were able to scored a EUR7 (yes, you read that right, EUR7 baby!) RyanAir ticket from Paris to Verona, we then decided to give this town a short visit. Little we know that we would then fall in love with this gorgeous little town.

We spent a night in a little B&B called Alle Torri just outside the city center. The obvious reason was because this is simply the cheapest place available in Hostelworld. Also, because we arrived late at night,  Emanuelle, our host, provided transfer with a very small cost. Turned out we enjoyed our stay so much. Emanuelle is an amazing host. He provided us a free map of the city and some recommendation of where to have meals and Verona’s best gelato. The room is beautifully decorated. The bed is very soft and comfortable (after a 14+1hrs flight from Jakarta-Paris-Verona, that is exactly what you needed.) It is quiet. It has good facilities. The coffee is amazing (because, Italian.) It was definitely the highlight of our stay and made us regret our decision to advanced-booked our accomodation in Venice, because we can easily have a day-trips to Venice and Lake Como from Verona.

The next day, it was only 9 past 10 in the morning when Emanuelle sent us off to the railway station. We put our backpacks in the luggage room before enjoying the city on our own. From the railway station, we had a 20 minutes slow walk while enjoying the sun shines through this calm village. Because of the value and importance of its many historical buildings, Verona has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000. We entered the historic center area through the Portoni della Bra, and found ourselves in the Piazza Bra, a piazza with a small green park in the center, and the Arena stands at the end. There are outdoor cafes and restaurants on the left side, but most of them are still closed. Locals were hanging around the park, reading newspaper and chat with each other, they seem to enjoy the nice weather. Coming from a busy city like Jakarta, that was a rather pleasant view in the morning.

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Spending a morning in the Piazza Bra

Verona’s Arena is the second-largest amphitheatre to survive after the Colosseum in Rome. It was erected in the 1st Century AD and can seat up to 30,000 spectators. It is still functioning until today for the open air performances of Verona Opera during the summer period. During the day, there’s some old men wearing gladiator costumes strolling around. They can’t speak a single word in English, but was very eager to catch tourist to take photos. They didn’t charge a fee, but expected some tips for your touristy photos.

We walked past the arena to the Via Giuseppe Mazzini, a major shopping street of Verona, which also happens to be the largest pedestrian area in the city. It was named in 1907 after the Italian politician and philosopher. Here you can easily find shops from almost all famous Italian labels. Even if you can’t afford most of the things they sell on the shops, you can definitely have your window shopping and people watching along the street.

At the end of the street, we found the beautiful Piazza delle Erbe, one of the most picturesque piazza in Italy with its colorful market which sells fresh fruit and vegetables. In the middle of the square stood the Madonna Verona fountain, a work of Cansignoria (1368).

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The colorful Piazza delle Erbe

Not far from this piazza, we can find the house that represent one of Shakespeare’s most famous and widely known work of fiction, Romeo and Juliet.  The House of Juliet (Casa di Giuletta) located in the Via Cappello. You might missed the gate to the house if it wasn’t for a small sign outside the entrance. This medieval palace dates from 13th century and has actually no connection with Shakespeare’s work, but a balcony was added in 1936 and supposedly became the location of the famous scene between Romeo and Juliet. The house is now a major tourist attraction in Verona. Tourist can enter the garden and see the balcony from outside for free, but is expected to pay the EUR4 entrance fee if you want to visit the house itself. There’s a bronze statue of Juliet in the middle of the garden and it is belief that you’ll have good luck on your future romance in you rub Juliet’s right breast.

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Graffiti in the Juliet’s House

Italy is famous for its pizza and gelato and you can easily find a decent pizzeria and gelateria throughout Italy, as well as in Verona. As most tourist only visit the city for a stop before reaching Venice, most of the good restaurants are filled with locals, including those on big piazza such as Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza Bra, or along the Via Giuseppe Mazzini. A good pan of pizza margherita (it was actually a single portion, but turned out that the pizza was big enough for the two of us) and a small pitcher (250ml) of  house wine for two people will only cost you less than EUR10 per person. While a creamy and milky scoop of gelato cost EUR1.5.

Despite its size, Verona is full of historical buildings and architectural beauties. You can easily spend a day walking through this city, just make sure you wear a comfortable walking shoes as the cobbled stones are not very friendly to your feet.

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Along the Adige River

Things I love about Verona :

1. Alle Torri B&B. It’s the best accommodation throughout our trip. ‘Nuff said.

2. Its charm. I’m not really a small town kinda-girl. I enjoy the perks of big cities, but when it comes to vacation, I guess I really enjoy small cities, with its warm and welcoming atmosphere. Also, despite of its relation with Romeo&Juliet, it’s not yet become a main tourist destinations, so it’s still quiet and “empty” compare to its neighboring city. The people are relaxed and enjoying life. Lovely.

3.  How it had proven me wrong. It is more than just “Romeo&Juliet”. The city is packed with history and beauties. Just come and see for yourself.

Have you ever had a wrong impression of some place? How was it turned out for you?

Disclosure : I have no connection with Alle Torri whatsoever. I paid for my stay there and I gave them prop and good review simply because I enjoyed my stay there so much and would happily recommend them to every one.

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