It's taken a while but I'm finally ready to show you around the fair city of Verona which we visited in May. There are a lot of photos but, when you're in a city this beautiful and interesting, it's difficult to narrow them down. We also packed as much as possible into our 3 day break and, hopefully, these will give you a flavour of what we saw and experienced. I've included links wherever possible so you can see more photos and find out more details if you wish.
The day dawned bright and clear and we had fantastic views as we flew over the Alps.
After dropping off our bags at the hotel, we headed into town. This was our first glimpse, approaching the Porta Nuova which is the gateway to the historic centre of Verona.
Through the archway and into Piazza Bra. This is a huge square with restaurants, the town hall and a large garden. However, the square is best known for being the location of...
...the Roman arena, built in AD30, the third largest amphitheatre in Italy. As it was closed, we'll be back later to take a look inside.
The tourist information office is also in Piazza Bra so we headed over to buy a Verona card. This gives free access to 15 attractions (museums, art galleries, churches), free travel on the bus and discounts on other things. Over our 3 days we visited most of the attractions and used the bus as well so it was well worth it.
Crossing the square we walked down Via Mazzini which is one of the main shopping streets with designer shops like Gucci. I barely looked at the shops though as I was too busy looking upwards at all the architecture - so many beautiful balconies and windows, but also little surprises like this plaque of Romulus and Remus and unknown (but probably famous) man.
The other thing, which will remain with me as the sound of Verona, was the calling of the swallows as they swooped around the rooftops.
At the end of Via Mazzini, you turn left into Piazza Erbe where there's a daily market though the stalls are almost exclusively of the tourist tat variety.
It was one of my favourite areas of Verona. The buildings were breathtaking, full of carvings and frescoes.
It's also the home of the Torre dei Lamberti which we'll be climbing on day 3.
From Piazza Erbe we walked under this archway into Piazza Signori (though this view is looking back towards the market). Legend has it that the whalebone hanging over the archway will fall on the first person to walk beneath it who has never told a lie.
Piazza dei Signori is home to a statue of Dante who lived in Verona for a few years in the building at far right (with pointy top). The yellow building behind is where the photo of the tiny cross in the rafters was taken which I showed you in the May Scavenger Hunt.
Carrying onwards we walked down via Cappello/Leoni for our first glimpse of the river Adige.
We were heading for the church of San Fermo Maggiore as it was on our list for entry with the Verona card. The red and white stripes on the outside are typical of buildings in this area.
There's been a church on this site since the 5th century but this part dates from around the 13th century. The wooden ceiling is apparently very unusual and built in the shape of the bottom of a ship.
My favourite parts though were the frescoes.
Below the main church is a chapel which originally housed the remains of Saints Fermo and Rustico though they've since been moved to the upper church.
After all that wandering around, it was time for a sit down and a refreshing glass of cold lemonade.
'Eyes look your last!
Arms, take your last embrace!'
Next stop, Juliet's tomb. Romeo and Juliet are big business in Verona and there are busts of Shakespeare next to his quotes all around the city. We only visited the tomb as it was free with the Verona card.
There's a bit of a garden and some sculptures, like this one. Inside there are rows and rows of Roman amphorae (pots) and some frescoes. One of them is being restored and we watched an interesting video showing the process.
This, however, was not at all interesting. The building was originally a monastery and the monks were so fed up of people wanting to visit Juliet's 'tomb' that they converted the red marble sarcophagus into a water trough. In the 1800s, Charles Dickens denounced the damage caused by people breaking off bits as a souvenir!
Last up on our itinerary for the day was a visit to the Arena which is still in use for concerts. Each summer there is an opera festival which attracts thousands of visitors.
The scale is so impressive. I'm not an opera fan but would love to see one here just for the experience.
If I did, I'd be up here in the cheap seats. Which always reminds me of the great John Lennon quote: "Would those of you in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewellery."
We were back again in the evening. It was Chickpea's birthday so we both put on a frock and dined in one of the restaurants overlooking the Arena.
Later we strolled down Via Mazzini again.
Before sitting by the fountain in Piazza Bra watching the world go by.
Roll on day 2. x