For my birthday today, we decided to go to Verona for the day. Even though the weather reports for Verona had announced rain, I was determined to go no matter what. In Florence, we had a terrible storm last night, so when we woke up to clear skies, I thought we could get lucky. And we were. When we arrived in Verona, we were greeted with blue skies and a few dark, grey clouds lingering above us. The threat of rain was present, but not a drop fell.
The first thing we did when we arrived at the stazione (train station) was buy a guidebook. I had looked for one before we left, but was unsuccessful in finding one dedicated to Verona. It was more often mixed in with Venice and the Veneto area. All I knew about Verona was that the story of Romeo and Juliet took place here and that the Arena was here as well.
We opened the map and headed in the direction of the Arena. We knew that everything else in the city was nearby, but we certainly didnít want to miss visiting the Arena. We hiked up the stone stairs and seats to the top and looked down at the palcoscenico (stage) and outside at the city below.
Afterwards, we headed down via Mazzini toward Piazza delle Erbe. I was intrigued when I read the other night on a website that the city had erected a statue of Dante to commemorate his stay in Verona after he was exiled from Florence. Before that I didnít even know he came to Verona.
We walked down Via Mazzini, a pedestrian street lined with shops and packed with tourists. Coming from Florence where there are many tourists navigating the city, I didnít expect to contend with such large crowds. Most of them were in groups so it was even more difficult to get around them. In Florence, we probably have more tourists, but it doesnít look as crowded because they are not concentrated in a small area.
On the way to Piazza delle Erbe, we decided to go to Julietís house. The long arch with writing and graffiti on both sides was filled with people when we arrived. We inched our way through it and into the courtyard where people were getting their pictures taken with a brass statue of Juliet their hands on her breasts.
We entered the house in the hopes of visiting it, but the line was too long. Instead, we walked outside to the street and made our way to Piazza delle Erbe. A market filled the center portion of the piazza. I was eager to see Danteís statue, so we walked through a passageway that led to Piazza dei Signori where Dante stood tall.
I was happy to see Dante and snapped a few photos. Because it was almost 1pm, we started looking for a place to eat. We wanted to avoid the touristy places in the piazza, and ended up finding a little place under a loggia.
After lunch, we walked to Ponte Pietra, a ponte (bridge) opened only to pedestrians, and stood above the Adige fiume (river) raging below. Itís beautiful how the fiume curves through the city. Instead of walking along the fiume, we headed back inland to the SantíAnastasia chiesa (church). I was impressed with how large and ornate it was.
We then walked to the Duomo, which wasnít far away, and enjoyed visiting the chiesa and the battistero (baptistery).
We knew we had a limited amount of time, so we tried to visit as much of the city as we could. I finally had my chance to walk along the fiume in the shade of tall trees on our way to Ponte Garibaldi.
We then navigated a few narrow roads and walked down Corso Cavour to Castelvecchio, which is an old castle that is now a museo (museum). We enjoyed perusing the art on display as well as the fabulous views outside along the top of the castle. We were above Ponte Scaligero, which is a brick pedestrian ponte, and walked outside after our visit to cross it and view the Adige again.
After all of our visiting, we decided to stroll the streets and go back to Piazza delle Erbe by taking Corso Porta Borsari. The narrow roads contained more locals out shopping and pushing passeggini (strollers) this time.
Since we didnít get to visit Julietís house, we walked down via Cappelllo to see if it was less crowded. When we entered her casa, we saw very few people inside, so we decided to visit it. I wasnít sure about visiting it because I tend to be a little leery about famous peopleís houses. Sometimes they are very interesting and sometimes I find them disappointing because I expected them to be better. Fortunately, I enjoyed visiting Julietís house and learned a lot about her love story and the time in which she lived.
On our way back to the stazione, we stopped in Piazza Braí, where the Arena stands, and had a drink on the terrazza (terrace) of a restaurant.
I was so happy to have finally visited Verona although I think Iíd need at least a week to get a true feel for the city. We saw a lot today, but I know there is so much more we could see. Maybe some day weíll come for a concert in the summer or for the large star they put in the Arena at Christmas time.
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