For some reason whenever I am ill I make spontaneous decisions which usually result in some serious damage on my credit card. But oh, not this one! This one was a totally brilliant idea with the return flight (courtesy of easy jet) costing me a meagre £6.50.
With flights so cheap I decided to take my sister on a little historical trip to Verona, North Italy. Because of the value and importance of its many historical buildings, Verona has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site (something that means a lot to me, but very little to my ‘ I’m too cool for history’ sister). We were only in Verona for approximately 72 hours, but I am going to summarise and give you a run-down in approximately 9 pictures. Enjoy…
1. The Arena
First off, Verona is an exceptionally easy town to travel to and around. A short 15 minute coach journey from the airport takes you to the main train station and in a few short minutes you can walk to the Piazza Bra above (if you’ve got legs, please don’t bother with a taxi!). The piazza itself is beautiful but what really catches your attention is the big old thing in the centre. Have you spotted it yet? Awesome. That big circular structure is a Roman amphitheatre dating back to AD 30 and is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind. Now I don’t know if you’ve been to Rome and seen the Colosseum but this might actually top it. Because Rome is considerably larger than Verona, with equally larger buildings, the sheer size and scale of the Colosseum is lost slightly. However, in Verona the amphitheatre is perfectly situated and holds prominence over the city, and if you are anything like me, you could easily prance around in the glorious Piazza and imagine you are on the way to the games!
The amphitheatre could host more than 30,000 gladiator-hungry spectators, but today it is internationally famous for its large-scale opera performances.
2. Inside the Arena
I know I’m repeating myself here, but as one of the most impressive ancient structures in Verona it’s worth a second round. As you may have guess this is the inside of the Arena, where you can clearly see the stalls being set up for the Opera performance that weekend.
The round façade of the building was originally composed of white and pink limestone from Valpolicella, but after a major earthquake in 1117, which almost completely destroyed the structure’s outer ring, the stone was quarried for re-use in other buildings.
In 1483 Giovanni Antonio Panteo remarked “…that it struck the viewer as a construction that was more than human.” …Now we have put a man on the moon it does seem plausible that humans did manage to create this masterpiece in construction after all!
3. Gated Rooms within the Arena
Perfect for locking up annoying little sisters.
4. Piazza Bra
This is the Pizaa Bra, which again I know I mentioned it earlier, but doesn’t it just look GREAT! You may also remember that I took my sister to Verona…if I had any hunk of man to speak of I would have ditched my blood and gone there with him (sorry Liz!). Verona really is a romantic city, and to all my future boyfriends, please take me back*
Another Piazza worth visiting is the Pizza delle Erbe, which is full to the brim with restaurants, medieval architecture and cheap wine.
*I’m imagining the future Mr Honey will be reading this article… if not, can you please direct him here?
5. Juliet’s House (Casa di Giulietta)
Now this one is just a little confusing. Just off the Piazza delle Erbe supposedly lies the location of the famous balcony love scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The house is a major destination for tourist pilgrimage, as the tiny courtyard is normally packed with lovestruck teenagers photographing each other on the famous balcony. In fact, the house has no connection with Shakespeare’s fictional characters – although the house is old, the balcony was added in 1936 and declared to be “Juliet’s house” to attract tourists. You can visit the house itself (€6 entry) – it contains a sparse collection of Renaissance frescos rescued from other demolished palaces, and the bed from Zeffirelli’s 1968 movie, but not a lot more.
The balcony overlooks a tiny courtyard containing a statue of Juliet. People queue up to have their photos taken groping Juliet’s bronze breast, which I first thought must just be the blokes larking around, but it actually think its some sort of tradition. Any ideas?
6. Dresses in Juliet’s House
Within Juliet’s house there are many period dresses. To be honest, I can’t be any more specific than that as I couldn’t read the Italian information boards. However, this didn’t really matter as they were beautiful and really evocative of the Italy of yonder year, when women were the arm candy of the men who thought they could do everything.
There is an unbelievable amount of graffiti and general scrawling on the walls, floor, seats, anything that will hold ink – there is a tradition of writing love messages to Juliet, and visitors leave notes, trinkets and bits of chewing gum fashioned into love hearts. Juliet’s house is a popular romantic shrine, and even though it is a load of old ho-ha I wrote a little message anyway. I’m still waiting for the reply..!
8. Castelvecchio (Italian: “Old Castle”)
On the edge of the river Aldige is the most important military construction of the Scaliger dynasty that ruled the city in the Middle Ages. You guessed it, a castle! The castle is powerful and compact in its size with very little decoration. It’s not much to look at but the bridge is beautifully situated and offers great views of the city. Built in the 14th century it is now the site of the city art museum which is packed with a rich collection of medieval sculpture and Renaissance paintings.
9. Please see photo below for all the relevant info
And if all that wasn’t enough for you, just go for the gelato. Christ almighty…It was incredible.
Source: © Annabelle Cox