Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Verona, Verona - Wherefore art thou Verona?
As we were checking out of our hotel in Venice, the man at the desk asked where we were headed next. We said we were driving to Milan, so he recommended Verona as a beautiful and quick stop on the way. So, we went - and we were glad we did.

However, as I've noted on earlier road trips through Italy, the roads can be a little confusing - direction signs after splits, signs with too much text to read going 170km/h, etc - and can prove challenging when you navigate without maps and rely on signs...

Needless to say, the crew and I (pictured with the our blue Fiat) had a bit of trouble finding the city center, accidentally climbing to the top of a hill and where we stumbled upon a gorgeous view of the countryside (title picture above). From there, we were able to navigate our way down to the old city center of Verona - the setting for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet - nestled in the bend of a river (above).

A few highlights:
  • Piazza Bra - the central hub of Verona
    • Arena di Verona (above)
      • Built in 1st century AD, the pink marble amphitheater is the 3rd largest (surviving) Roman amphitheater in the world with seating for twenty-thousand-something. Today, it is used as an opera venue for big summer productions.
  • Verona's Duomo
  • Piazza dei Signori & Palazzo degli Scaligeri (Scraligeri Palace)
  • Piazza delle Erbe
    • Originally the site of a Roman forum, this piazza in the heart of Verona is still home to a market and is surrounded by many beautiful buildings (Palazzo Maffei, Torre del Gardello, Casa Mazzanti).
    • Piazza delle Erbe is separated from Piazza del Signori by the Arco della Costa, where a whale's rib is suspended. Legend says it will fall on the first "just" person to walk beneath it. In several centuries, it has never fallen, not even on the various popes (or me) who have paraded beneath it...
    • We were also begged by a nice Italian man to eat at his restaurant, telling us his life story and claiming he would cry if we didn't eat there...when he wasn't looking, we ducked away an got fresh fruit cups (right) from the market instead - I hope he wasn't too sad...
  • Casa di Guilietta (Juliet's house)
    • The entrance is plastered with love notes and grafitti, past which is the courtyard and balcony (pictured below) where the fictional Juliet was said to speak to Romeo below.
    • According to legend, rubbing the right breast of the bronze Juliet statue (below) is said to bring good luck in the love life...

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