This article by guest author, Clare Farrell takes us on a long weekend to Verona, setting of Romeo and Juliet, for a wander around the old streets, people watching and great Italian food.
I’ve always felt that long weekends away were tailor made for walkable cities and the Italian city of Verona is one place that fits the bill perfectly. Brimming with history and telling tales of romance, it’s a place with plenty up its sleeve. I took my trip in October and although some cheap flights led me here initially, the city took me by the hand as soon as I arrived. Several months later it still hasn’t let go and I don’t want it to.
I like to meander around a place when the high season crowds have all but disappeared, and I loved doing just that in Verona during Autumn. Mr Holiday Addict and I spent three nights here, and despite one rather rainy afternoon, we had more than enough time to do what we love best – walking city streets and watching the world pass by; absorbing the sights and the history as we go.
My favourite part of Verona was the city’s heart; the Roman Arena in the central Piazza Bra. I’ve no doubt it pulses with music when it plays host to the opera during the summer months. But for me, missing the opera didn’t mean missing this spectacle. It’s a huge chunk of the Roman Empire and one place you simply must visit. I loved the sheer scale of it, and for me there was a real “wow” moment when I entered, probably because I spent so long studying Latin and Roman history at school. There were also some spectacular views from the top tier. Looking out over the square and the rooftops of the city was nothing short of amazing.
I think there’s beauty everywhere in Italy, but Verona is really something else. We took a trip on the open-top tour bus and did plenty of exploring on foot, too. Strolling around the city streets kept me and my camera busy for hours and we made sure to spend a good half day just wandering around. We picked off must-see sights like the statue of Dante in Piazza dei Signori, the fortress of Castelvecchio and Juliet’s famous balcony, but the sights I loved most were the little shrines to the Virgin Mary that are scattered about the city – you’ll spot them everywhere no matter what route you take.
After we finished pounding the marble pavements, the perfect place to stop was Piazza delle Erbe. We soaked up the history that oozes from this old market square, then we parked ourselves at one of the cafe bars for a spot of people watching. There can’t be many better ways to pass an hour or two! We also visited the square for coffee in the morning when I particularly enjoyed seeing the elderly Italian ladies, perfectly coiffed, shopping for vegetables and strolling with their designer handbags slung over their well dressed shoulders.
We spent our evenings in the area around the Ponte Pietra Roman bridge, near our B&B accommodation. It was great for dinner and an evening walk. Winding our way through the streets from the bridge towards Piazza delle Erbe, we spotted countless small eateries that were frequented by locals. I had some of the best Italian food I’ve ever eaten in this part of the city. And although we were only there for three nights, Cappa Cafe, just near the Ponte Pietra bridge, felt like it was our local place!
Verona is also a great spot to base yourself for trips elsewhere, and I was over the moon that I could fit in an afternoon bus trip to the town of Sirmione on Lake Garda. It was beautiful! But Mantua, Padua and even Venice are all easy to reach from Verona’s Porta Nuova station if you fancy venturing further afield.
In the end, although Verona wasn’t my first trip to Italy, I honestly believe this is where I really fell in love with the country. It’s no wonder that Verona is the setting for Romeo and Juliet.
About the Author: Clare Farrell is a part-time traveller with a penchant for European city breaks and Mediterranean beaches. She adores good food, good wine and good company, visiting new places and seeing the familiar through new eyes. Wherever she goes she searches for five star luxury and tries to get as close to it as possible – with a three star price tag. Find Clare at her blog Need Another Holiday or on Facebook or Twitter.
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