Italy is one of my favorite destinations in the world. I’ve been there 6 times, lived there for almost a month, and still, many Italian cities are to be crossed off my traveler`s bucket list. Verona was one of them – I have ancestors from the Veneto area. Now I`ve been there and I can tell you: Verona is a lot more than just the city of Romeo and Juliet!
The city is way smaller than I was expecting, and in 1 – 2 days you can walk around and see basically all there is to see in the Old Town, the prettiest and most important part of the city, historically and architecturally speaking. Except for where San Pietro Castle is located, on a hill on the other side of the river, the whole city is flat, what makes it really easy to stroll down the little narrow streets and the charming buildings.
I started walking from the Piazza Bra – where the Arena is located – into the little streets of the city center, just getting lost in it, my personal favorite way of exploring a new city. Then I took the riverbanks and went up to the Roman Theatre and San Pietro Castle. From up the hill, you get panoramic views of the city and even though it looks like a hard way up, it was quite easy.
I could not be in Verona without visiting the famous Casa di Giulietta. My thoughts on Juliet`s House? The entrance is not expensive, 3 euros, but there isn`t really much to see inside. I was pretty disappointed actually. The house is not her original house, it belonged to an Italian family called del Capello (close to Capuleto, thus the reason).
It was build in the 13th century but besides being small, it was renewed in the 1930`s so it`s not even it`s original architecture (the balcony is an addition made on this renovation). The insides are kind of empty. There is her “room” and some clothes used on Franco Zeffirelli`s 1968 version of the story, and some random pieces of ceramic, but not much else. You can get to the balcony for the classic picture. But if you just want the “good-luck-holding-the-breast-of-Juliet`s-photo” there`s no need to pay as her statue is in the courtyard, opened to the public (do wait in line for that).
Of course, the characters never existed in real life, which makes it kinda funny because the way they`ve set the house and tell the story when you visit Julieta`s house makes it sound like she was a real girl, not just a character (there`s even her tomb). I actually think a lot of tourists believe that she did exist…
But for the sake of a little romance, there`s no harm done, and even without Juliet, Verona can be a pretty romantic city. A night walk through the river banks had definitely my favorite views of the city. From the city center, cross the Ponte Pietra to the other side of the river at the blue hour (that magic moment of the day a little after sunset when the sky is not completely dark yet but the city lights are already on). You`re going to see the most beautiful reflections of the old city on the water. Something just like this…
As always in Italy, good food is something that you don`t have to worry about. I always like to try the typical food of every place I go, the local ingredients, and local wines, ovviamente… In Verona and the Veneto region, some of the traditional plates are the Pastissada with Polenta (horse meat with polenta, I didn`t have the courage to order that, even though I know it is delicious I just would feel weird eating a horse), and the Bigoli pasta (that`s the one I ordered, with duck and truffle oil). I had dinner at a place called Osteria da Ugo, where I drank one of my favorite Italian wines, the local Amarone. Sooo good!!!
There are many cute restaurants in Verona, both for dinner or just an aperitivo (more informal way of dining when you order a drink and can have some free food buffet with it). I recommend staying out of the more touristic areas like on the squares and finding little local places with more character if you want a more real Italian experience.
If you visit Verona in late November/December like I did, there’s an extra attraction to the city: The Christmas Market. I’m obsessed with Christmas markets so I was really glad to have caught this one. Not only I bought some really beautiful ornaments for my Christmas tree, I also tried all kinds of Vin Brule (hot wine) to warm up from the cold. In Verona, it was on Piazza dei Signori, and I`ll end this post with this beautiful photo of it:
For more on Italy: The lost city of Pompei: The ultimate insider`s guide.
And the story of How I found and lost love in the most romantic city in the world, Venice.
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