Welcome back! Glad you’ve decided to stick with me for the next leg of my Italian adventure. Today, we’ll be having a look at the town of Verona. Although it’s not as touristy as nearby Venice, it’s still very pretty and famous in its own right. You’ll probably have heard of it from Romeo and Juliet, as Verona was the town the rivalling Capulets and Montagues both lived in. However, it’s not limited to fictional stories, and Roman Verona is worth seeing all by itself.
First thing on the list was Castelvecchio (which means “old castle” on the banks of the Adige River. As well as a large courtyard, which now houses a pretty little garden, the old castle building contains a museum. It tells the visitor all about the Scaliger family, who ruled the city in the Medieval era. It’s famous because it looks unique – it stands out from the surrounding light-coloured buildings of the city, as it’s built from red brick, and has an interesting style of battlements. It also has a bridge connected to it, which crosses the river. However, the bridge was destroyed in the Second World War, so the city rebuilt the bridge in the 1950s exactly the way it was before.
Verona also has a number of beautiful churches. Although our trip to Europe would consist of a lot of church visits (despite the fact I don’t consider myself religious), Verona’s churches and bell towers were particularly of interest. A style of bell ringing was invented here – Veronese bell ringing, to be exact. Now, I’m not an expert, but I think this was revolutionary when it was invented. So much so that it even rivalled English style bell-ringing, which was also famous at the time.
With the distant sound of church bells playing a sweet melody, it’s no surprise that Verona is now known as a city of love and romance. Of course, this was massively helped by Romeo and Juliet. These days, if you’re a fan of Shakespeare, you can pay to visit both Juliet’s house and tomb and Romeo’s house and tomb. I don’t have the heart to tell fans of the play that they are actually fictional characters, and therefore they cannot possibly have lived or been buried in the place the Verona town maps suggest. Even with this considerable obstacle in the way, people still flock to stand on the balcony Juliet apparently called to her beloved Romeo from.
If you love the Romans, then Verona has some spectacular landmarks in store for you. There’s the Roman amphitheatre, which is one of the biggest still standing. It’s also in better condition than the one in Rome, and is still used today for operas and theatre performances. Across the river, there’s another Roman theatre, also still in use. You can also find evidence of old Roman roads, and Porta Borsari is a beautiful gate built in the 1st century AD.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t any of these gorgeous sights I’ll remember most about Verona. I’ll remember most fondly my trip to a pizzeria, which made the best pizza I have ever had. So much so, we went back the next evening, because we knew they sold a “metre long” pizza. A metre of pizza! Imagine that! Happily, I didn’t have to – we managed to scoff it all by ourselves. There were only two of us. Yes, I felt a bit ill after eating half a metre’s worth of pizza, but I’ll never regret it.
The next day, we packed up our bags and took our now-considerably-fatter selves off to Venice. See you then!
Photo credit: Alice Barnes-Brown