“Two households, both alike in dignity
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene”
Back at school, I remember intently studying many of William Shakespeare’s plays and in most cases, Romeo and Juliet was at the top of the list when learning to accustom yourself to an entire different language. The opening scene of Romeo and Juliet is one of the most memorable scenes, laying the foundations for events to come. We are introduced to our two pivotal characters, ‘a pair of star-cross’d lovers’ who become our romantic heroes and whose love is adored.
A taste of Milan and Verona: Part 2 came as we headed down to Verona by train from Milan. It was as picturesque as expected as we crossed Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy and surrounded by an endless supply of mountains, hills and beautifully exotic plants and flowers. As I sat on the train, I was reminded of the opening scene of the play which takes place in Verona. When people asked me where I was visiting in Italy, my response was ‘Verona’, yet people did not often put two and two together, not realising Verona is a real city in Italy and the birthplace of an enduring tale of love, loyalty and civil war.
As we arrived in Verona, it was once again extremely hot, with clear blue skies and not a touch of cloud! We walked down towards the centre of Verona which was traditionally protected by a giant arch. As you venture into the old city, the views are glorious! Directly in front you have the Colosseum which we proceeded to visit before it got too busy. Luckily for us, they were setting up for the Royal Opera Festival so we were fortunate to witness how sensational an opera would be (despite not having enough time to witness one ourselves). The sheer size and architectural brilliance was breath-taking and the view of Verona was spectacular.
The city was even more beautiful than Milan. The traditional Italian culture was even more prevalent as we met more and more Italian citizens who lived above the cobbled streets and shops. The main shopping district of Verona had an endless supply of designer and high street stores, both Italian in heritage and international. Imagine walking down Carnaby Street in London and you’re not far off what Verona personifies. Colourful buildings aligned the streets and endless ice cream parlours were in full sight.
Verona is most famous for Juliet’s house or as Italians call it Casa di Giulietta. The power of storytelling should never be underestimated and as a graduate of English Literature, Juliet’s House was a beautiful way of imaging the very place Romeo declared his love for Juliet whilst on the balcony. One of the most powerful stories in Western culture and the house dates from the 13th century. Verona is also famous for its bronze sculpture of Juliet in which tourists gather around, taking it in turns to touch her right breast for luck (strange I know!)
Situated directly next door is a beautiful shop with gifts in stainless steel and Stirling silver that you can have personalised. It is popular to engrave gifts with the saying ‘with love from Guilietta’. I took full advantage of the shop and purchased a few gifts for my nearest and dearest. If anyone ventures to Verona, I would highly recommend it!
Having walked for miles around Verona, I began to notice the mass’s drinking a peculiar orange liquid in a wine glass. Of course, I proceeded to find out what it was and concluded it is the ‘Sangria of Italy’ – it is made with Aperol (still not sure what that is!) It was delicious and accompanied my traditional Italian pizza for dinner in front of the Colosseum.
My sister had time to visit one of the famous art galleries in Verona and we also visited the Castelvecchio (castle in Italian). The castle is beautifully preserved and compact in size, built in red bricks, a prominent example of gothic architecture. The castle also leads onto Castelvecchio Bridge, one of the most famous bridges in Italy, where the newest Romeo and Juliet movie was filmed.
No words could describe how beautiful it is. Full of romance and ambiance, it is the perfect destination for couples and families alike. I loved every minute of it and as the sun began to set on Verona, visitors of the Opera began to pour in, wearing their very best summer outfits.
Over 3 and a half days of pure Italian culture, it is safe to say my initial perspective of Italy was entirely different. Verona was all it is hyped up to be and more and I would love to return.
In the meantime, I’ll be dreaming of my Romeo declares his love to me from a balcony in Italy.