A couple of weekends ago I went to Verona. One of my favourite Shakespeare plays is Romeo & Juliet and ever since I found out that Verona had ‘Juliet’s’ balcony where she said the iconic ‘Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore art thou Romeo’ line, I decided that I had to go.. Okay, I know Romeo and Juliet isn’t a real life story but lets not go into that.
I booked this trip back in January and a couple of months ago I realised that I had to find out things to do whilst I was there, because going to Verona for a weekend just to see a balcony is a little bit ridiculous. So I started my planning and was shocked to find out that there is actually quite a lot to do there, and also quite a lot of history. The more I planned the more my list grew and grew. I was actually a bit concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do everything, as you will see in this post. Turns out I had nothing to worry about, as pretty much everything on my list was in a similar vicinity. Which I probably could have worked out if I had bothered to look at a map. The only thing that I didn’t do was go to Scaligero Castle but that was more because it wasn’t feasible because it was in Lake Garda, which is pretty much a day trip to. I’m starting to worry about how bad I am at planning things, considering how far in advance I like to plan what I want to do.. I just never seem to plan actually getting to these places.
Okay there was a couple of other things that I didn’t do, but not because I didn’t have time, because I definitely did, I just decided not to bother because my feet were sore. Yes, I know i’m a lazy wuss.
On Saturday I was up pretty early. I think I was out of the hotel by 9am! My hotel was about a 25 minute walk from the City Centre so was pretty convenient. I knew that the first thing I wanted to see was Juliet’s Balcony and Statue so I headed towards there. My maps for some reason had a different idea and decided to take me to a place which was a road or two over so I had to ask someone how to get there. You walk through a little archway to get into the tiny little courtyard where the Balcony and Statue is. Such a cute little place. If you want to pay a few Euros you can go inside the house and up to the Balcony, I decided not to do this.
Also in the courtyard were two little souvenir shops where you can buy Juliet or Romeo and Juliet related item. I went in to neither! I have a bad habit of buying souvenirs and just putting them in a drawer at home and forgetting all about them. I hope I’m not the only one who does this! The only thing I haven’t done this with is my little Eiffel Tower statue that my friend, who I went to Paris with, bought for me. That is sitting on my desk at work.
Anyway, back to Verona!
As beautiful as this little courtyard is, there is one negative thing I would point out! The panelled wall of the archway! It is covered in writing and post-it notes etc with peoples names and other messages. Whilst I get the reasoning behind it, I think it just kind of ruins the beauty of the place.
After taking photos and imagining myself on the Balcony re-enacting the “Romeo, Romeo… ” scene I carried on walking towards Piazza delle Erbe where I decided to stop for a Diet Coke, or Coke Zero as they have in Italy, and have a little look around the stalls that were set up.
Thirst quenched I decided it was time to go to the Scaliger Tombs.. But I got a little bit lost and ended up at Torre dei Lamberti instead. After taking a few photos I headed back to Piazza delle Erbe to go the correct route to Scaliger Tombs.. Turns out that I could have quite easily found my way from Torre dei Lamberti as I walked past there on my way. Maybe I also need to learn how to use Apple Maps correctly. Anyone else concerned by my ability to get to the right places?
Safely at Scaliger Tombs and managing not to get lost again I paid my €1 to get in. You get a little laminated card which tells you which tomb is what. Super interesting! The hexagonal tomb for Cansignorio is seriously stunning and kind of gothic looking. This is the tomb that you’ll likely see come up the most when you Google ‘Scaliger Tombs’.
After taking lots of pictures and reading the laminated card I walked around the corner to Romeo’s House. This I had already read was a little bit of a let down so I wasn’t expecting much! All I can say is “thank goodness you don’t have to pay for this!”
It is just a gated community called Romeo’s House, which has a MASSIVE gate at the entrance. Kind of a waste of time but I was already next to it so thought I might as well stop and take a few photos. After taking my photos I was in a debate about where to go next, so I got out my little book that had my list of things I wanted to do and decided that I was going to go to Castel San Pietro.
What I didn’t realise when I made this decision is that you have to walk up a steep step filled hill to get there… It only took about 15 minutes from the bottom but it was a very hot day, so by the time I got up there I was a hot sweaty mess. Lovely right? I had to tie up my hair and fan myself to try and cool down 😂 But guess what? It was SO worth it!
The view from the top was INCREDIBLE!!
You can see the whole of Verona from there. It really was beautiful. After taking tons of photos and face-timing my mum to show her the view I headed back down the hill and over to Teatro Romano, which is about half way down the hill.
This is a place that I had been really looking forward to seeing because it is basically the remains of the old Roman Theatre, but I was very disappointed as it is now in modern use and is filled with plastic chairs and modern stage equipment. Totally ruins what could be a moving experience. Stone seats, whilst probably wouldn’t be as comfy, would fit in with the remains a lot better. I still took a few photos but I couldn’t help feeling a bit let down.
After this disappointment I decided it was time to head back to the bottom of the hill and go find somewhere to get some lunch and wine. I had a look on Tripadvisor to see if I could find any nice restaurants near me, but ended up settling on an Italian restaurant (unsurprisingly) in Piazza die Signori, which is back near where I started at Piazza delle Erbe.
On the walk towards here I went past Basilica di Santa Anastasia, which wasn’t particularly special looking, I.E it wasn’t top to bottom stain glass windows or made out of marble, but was still incredibly beautiful.
After taking a few pictures I carried on towards the Italian restaurant I was going to. The restaurant was called Pizzeria Impero and I had read that this place was 1 of the 3 best places in Verona to get a Calzone.. After my trip to Rome I now have a little bit of an obsession with finding the best Calzone in Italy, you can read how much I loved the one in Rome in my Weekend in Rome post. Although I have to admit, I’m really not sure anything can beat the Calzone I had in Rome.. Sorry, I digressed again! Back to Pizzeria Impero.
For a reason I can’t actually remember now I decided not to go for a Calzone and just ended up getting a standard Prosciutto and Mozzarella pizza and a large glass of Valpolicella. YUM! The pizza and the wine did not disappoint. I ended up relaxing here for a couple of hours before I got too hot and decided it was time to go back to my hotel to freshen up a bit.
After having a nice shower, a little lie down and touching up my make-up (I make this sound like a quick thing, but I was in my hotel room for about 2 hours), I left my hotel and walked over to Piazza Brá, which is where the Verona Arena is. I was starting to get a bit peckish again, all the walking I had done was doing wonders for my metabolism, so I walked up and down the Piazza until I came across a placed called Emanuel Cafe. I had a look at the menu and decided that this was where I was going to.. I think maybe the view of the Verona Arena from here also assisted in my decision.
For dinner I had the Handmade Tortellini with butter and sage. I know it sound boring but it was actually delicious. The tortellini was filled with some sort of meat, but I was too scared to ask what meat it was as I had read that one of Verona’s famous dishes is called Pastissada, which is basically a stew with horse meat in it. I don’t think the tortellini did have horse meat in but I didn’t want to ask just in case it did, because I knew it would make me sad if it was. Yes i’m a meat eater but I only meats that are classed as ‘Normal’ in the UK. I.E Beef, chicken, lamb etc… I know this is a bit strange.
Before I start thinking too much into this Tortellini horse meat situation, lets move on shall we?
Not only was the view amazing from this restaurant but it was also a perfect place to just sit and watch the world go by. I also loved that they put crisps, little assorted bruschetta, olives and bread sticks on the table and they didn’t charge you if you ate them! I don’t think i’ve ever been somewhere where they put nibbles on the table and didn’t charge you if you ate them, so that was a nice surprise.. Especially because I ate all the olives, because who doesn’t love Italian green olives, and had a few of the breadsticks.
I really enjoyed just sitting there relaxing with my wine and watching what was going on around me. What I found really entertaining was the procession of ‘couples’ who walked from one end of the Piazza to the other end dressed as if they were going to a Victorian themed party! However, they started walking back to the end they came from but stopped in the middle where a couple of horses with Victorian dressed soldiers also were. I asked the waiter what was going on but he said he didn’t know and that it was a regular thing that they did on the weekend. After a while they started walking back towards my end again and stopped right in front of the restaurant I was at, until they were given the sign to continue walking. I was so tempted to stand up and ask what they were doing and get a photo with them but I decided not to. Although, I’m now really curious again and wish that I knew.
After this entertainment I paid the bill and wandered round the shops before heading back to the hotel to go to bed.
Quite a successful first day I would say.
On Sunday I decided to have a lie in as I knew there wasn’t a huge amount more that I wanted to do. I didn’t end up getting up until about half 9, which was really nice. I knew I had to check out at 11 so I packed up all my stuff and got myself ready for the day.
By the time I was all checked out and my suitcase was with reception it was about quarter past 11 and I was starving. So I walked back over to Piazza Brá and stopped for some food at the first place that caught my eye. I don’t remember the name of this place and I’m not even going to recommend it as the food was average at best. It did the trick so I suppose I can’t really complain too much!
After leaving the restaurant I walked down the road for about 5 minutes and came to Castelvecchio, which is a Castle that guards the River Adige. Years and years ago it was a military post of the Scaliger family, the family whose tombs I went to on Saturday. Castelvecchio is now a museum and you can wander around the grounds and go up to the Battlements and look out at Verona and over the river. You can also walk across Ponte Scaligero to Piazza Arsenale from here but I decided not to as I had the perfect view of both from the Battlements. Such an interesting and beautiful museum and area to wander around. Would definitely recommend it!
I think I spent about an hour and a half or two hours here before I headed back over to Piazza Brá where I got a Mango and Strawberry ice cream. They put the ice cream in the cone so nice and artistically it ends up looking like a rose. It was so pretty I really didn’t want to ruin it by eating it.. Not that that lasted very long haha!
From Piazza Brá I walked past the Verona Arena and over to Porta dei Leoni. This little area is where the Porta dei Leoni arch still stands, but also the archaeological ruins from the Roman Era. I found these ruins really cool because they look like steps to the underworld!
After I had a look around this area and took photos of the ruins, I decided it was time to head back over to Piazza Brá and go check out the Arena di Verona. However, once I got there I decided I wasn’t going to go in, because I had seen through one of the arches that there was a load of plastic chairs in the centre and I didn’t want to once again be disappointed by modern items ruining the look of another piece of history.
The Arena di Verona truly is beautiful from the outside and I’m sure it is just as beautiful on the inside. I suppose I will just have to go back at a time when they aren’t doing any shows and hope that I can see the inside without any modern distractions. Or just learn to look past them and enjoy it anyway.
After I took some pictures of the outside I set off for Museo degli Affreschi Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle. This museum is where Tomba di Giulietta (aka Juliet’s Tomb) is, so of course I had to go! Yes, I got excited about something else Juliet related. Don’t judge me please.
I took quite a few pictures of Juliet’s Tomb and then wandered around the rest of the museum. The museum is filled with frescoes from the Middle Ages and Roman Sculptures. I had no idea what Frescoes were but they had a plaque in one of the rooms which explained it. To sum it up quickly, frescoes are paintings done rapidly in watercolour on wet plaster on a wall or ceiling. The colours penetrate the plaster and become fixed once it dries. This method of painting was used in Roman Times by various artists, including Michelangelo. How cool is that?
So not only did I get to see Juliet’s Tomb but I learnt something new. What a great way to end my trip in Verona.
Until next time, Ciao Verona.
Thanks for reading x