In fair Verona, where we lay our scene...
Updated: Sep 25, 2019
Upon stepping off the night train from Paris onto the Italian soil of Verona, we fell in love. It felt like we could breath deeply, a calm awakening washing over us.
Verona is the setting for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and it certainly lives up to expectations of beauty and romance.
Verona is small with winding streets that curl around the Adige river. At the heart of the city is the Arena, the most well-preserved amphitheater in all of Italy. Two thousand years of entertainment for the people, still going strong. The ancient rock arches and perfectly round spherical shape are a testament to the understanding of sound, physics and geometry. We dreamily imagine returning to hear an Italian opera here someday.
If you awaken early, especially on a Sunday, you will be treated to empty Piazzas where you can take in the gorgeous sculptures and paintings that are abundant around town without hordes of tourists vying for the same shot.
Simply walking through the narrow lanes offers much beauty and peace. Every corner is picture worthy and many streets and sidewalks are made from the gorgeous pink marble characteristic of the area.
We stroll along the river, looking forward to coming upon the only Roman bridge in Verona. It was destroyed by the Nazis in 1945, but the town recovered stones from the river and rebuilt the bridge. The new construction was made with bricks, giving the renovated version a unique look.
No trip to Verona is complete without a visit to Juliet's balcony. Although it is a major tourist attraction, filled with tons of people, it is rather magical. In the tunneled path leading to the courtyard, people have filled the walls with love notes and letters. It is a living tribute to love that people from all over the world take part in. It's enough to nearly make you forget that Romeo and Juliet was a tragedy.
We walk the outer perimeter of town, through park after park and enjoy the green scene. Eventually, we stop for beverages in another well known piazza.
Wandering back over ancient castle walls, we find more love for Verona than we could have imagined.
As we meander through town, there is no shortage of picture worthy shots.
Finally, a nod to the Celiac culture of Italy. There is so much Celiac awareness, it's a dream for the gluten intolerant. It is estimated that half the population has Celiac. The test is performed on children as a standard set of protocol at age 5 along with vaccinations. We learned one line before arriving in Italy: "Ilio sono Celiaco." It served us well. We tried to order grilled veggies at a restaurant and the waiter said "No, it's not safe for you. We grill bruscetta on the same grill." All allergens are clearly labeled and many restaurants simply serve only gluten free pizza, so there is no contamination risk at the topping station or in the wood fired oven. Entire gluten free bakeries exist and have the best pastries in the world (sorry, Paris). Check out this real truffle and porchini mushroom pizza that we enjoyed with a bottle of Prosecco. The fresh arugula on the side was our own touch and the perfect way to cut the delicious olive oil rich pie.
What a picture could never capture is the feel of the place, and the perfect coffee. These things we'll leave to your imagination. It was with a heavy heart but satisfied stomachs that we left Italy for Slovenia. With romantic promises of our return, we left our beloved Verona (for now).