I know its really, “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?” but it’s not his home in the middle of Verona that draws thousands of visitors each day; so I took a little creative liberty with the title. More on our visit to this popular tourist destination in a moment. Let’s back up and set the stage…
Soaking up the view
Verona is a beautiful city in the Veneto region of Italy, in the Northeast Italy. The capital of Veneto is Venezia (Venice) – the world famous city built on canals. While Venice is usually one of the most well-known destinations in this part of the country, it should not overshadow Verona – a charming and breathtaking city unto itself. Since Jen’s parents bought their home in Como a few years ago, Verona has been on our “bucket list” of desired destinations.
Jen’s mom came for a visit in late February and during a break in the cold weather, we decided touring a new city was a great idea. Since Verona is only two hours away by car and we had been wanting to go, it was an easy selection. The night before we prepared for a full day’s voyage – plenty of diapers and cheerios… and even a few things for the baby.
We set out early and drove straight toward the center of town. As we approached the city, we neared a roundabout that was created around one of the original stone gates from the old city – dating back over a thousand years. Crossing through the roundabout and straight toward the city, a much more modern street lined with homes and street level shops guided us right into the “newer” main gate of the city, under which we drove the car.
The main city gate
We drove through this gate to enter and exit
This particular gate (pictured above) was built in the 16th century to protect the city from invaders. Verona’s central location lent to wonderful trading routes and heightened the importance of the city throughout Europe (even before Roman times). It was this critical location that also put it right in the path of invaders and so the walls were built to fortify the city.
We arrived in the city at my favorite time of day – just in time for pranzo (lunch). We had gone to our trusty advisor, Trip Advisor before departing and already picked a place to eat. You can read about our wonderful/delicious/frightening/not-delicious-for-me dining experience at Ristorante Greppia HERE.
Julia was full and happy after lunch
On our way to the restaurant we walked directly into the Arena – an amazing Roman ampitheatre, third in size behind Rome’s Colosseum and the arena at Capua (not sure what that is… I’ll have to check it out). The ampithere was used for gladiator games, among other things – and is surprisingly still intact. In fact, it’s still used today in the summer for fairs, theatre and operas.
After lunch we took a stroll through town, toward one of the main piazza (town square), Piazza delle Erbe. Here are some of the shots of the market, surrounded by the Roman architecture as well as Julia having fun near fountain.
Markets in Piazza delle Erbe
“Dad, give me some cash to go shopping”
Spices, pasta and cured meats
Julia was happy as could be
Torre (tower) dei Lamberti – 1463
We found ourself on, Via Mazzini – one of the main shopping streets and filled with high end goods.
Gucci, Prada and Dolce Gabbana – Oh My!
As we wound our way through the streets of Verona, we crossed over Ponte Pietro – one of the main bridges exiting the city, spanning the river that borders the northern end of the city . We found ourselves at the Duomo (the city’s main church), where a funeral was presiding. It was obviously someone of great wealth and importance – there were hundreds of people in attendance and a beautiful hearse (is that an oxymoron) by none other than the Italian race car, Maserati at the ready.
Ponte (bridge) Pietro
This is the way I want to go out!
We stopped for a coffee (it was now the “coffee hour” of 4:00 and our internal coffee clock alarms were sounding). Diane enjoyed a tea – a luxury she doesn’t usually get around less forgiving coffee drinkers in the family (tea takes a lot longer to sip than an espresso). After fueling up, we had one last mission to accomplish – a visit to Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s house) from the world famous Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet. Of course, in actuality – it’s spelled Giulietta.* Turns out that three of Shakespeare’s plays were set in Verona – the beauty of the city must have intrigued him. Or else he got a really good deal on hotel rooms. Probably used Priceline.
Giulietta’s Balcony – “Romeo o’ Romeo”
Giulietta’s house (which is of course not really her house since she is a fictional character) is contained in a small courtyard, accessed through a dark tunnel. A few funny traditions have developed at home. Firstly, it is a must that you sign the wall of the tunnel as you enter the courtyard. Next, young lovers can memorialize their love by engraving their names on a padlock and attaching it to the gate in the back of the courtyard. The romantics can write love letters and stick them in the crevices of the adjacent wall or attach them with chewing gum. And for some reason (I’m assuming love or lust related) you can get in line and touch the bosoms of the female statue in the courtyard.
Tunnel leading to the courtyard
Young lovers inscribe their names on the wall
Julia memorializing her love for her parents
Of course our favorite part of the visit was that our very own Giulietta (which literally means, Little Julia) was a celebrity in her own right. The courtyard was packed with tourists from Taiwan and China that absolutely loved her and crowded around her to take her picture or pose with her. Several of them wanted to kiss her on the check for a photo. And since our little comedian/actress loves an audience – she was happy to oblige her adoring fans!
Paparazzi – smile!
“Nice to meet you, ladies”
The girls in Piazza Bra
Giulietta found her real Romeo
We walked a bit more, stopped for a wonderful gelato (ice cream) and another coffee and headed home. I would say that Romeo wasn’t the only one to have a great time in Verona. In fact, given how his love affair ended – I’d say we had a much better time in Verona than good ‘ol Romeo!
*Ironic side note – Jen debated spelling our daughters name the Italian way – G-I-U-L-I-A and I protested that I don’t want her to grow up with people constantly misspelling her name and we agreed on the more common J-U-L-I-A. Of course, now everyone spells it wrong (assuming it’s Giulia). We both find it funny and think it’s cute the alternate way while we’re living in Italy.