Perhaps most famed for it's associations with the iconic Shakespearean tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, a tale of desire and revenge, I can stand by the belief that Verona is, indeed, a city of love, whilst realising it as being somewhat naive. During my short stay, I was quite fortunate to have a friend, a local to Verona, get rid of any potential map confusion by taking me to all the must-see areas. These include the Museo di Castelvecchio, the Roman Arena, Lake Garda and the most famous, Casa di Giulietta. I was also treated to a few of Italy's most traditional and globally-adored dishes. This included, of course, pasta (gnocci in particular) and pizza which I had at my friend's traditional family home and a family-run restaurant.
Lonely Planet informs us that Museo di Castelvecchio was built in the 1350s by Cangrande II. The severe damage that it's structure suffered was apparently due to WWII and Napoleon bombings. However, the figure of whom amended this damage was the architect, Carlo Scarpa. Castelvecchio was one of the last places that I visited during my stay in Verona, and it largely consisted of walking along it's notable red-brick bridge in the evening, since it's interior was closed off to the public. The wall's on the medieval castle's bridge boasts some spectacular views over the river and city beyond, with the city lights glimmering across the water. You can access these views via sets of quaint stone steps.
Another of Verona's central attraction's that I walked around, though didn't enter, was the Roman Arena. When I asked my friend if it was worth paying the standard admission fee to enter into this ancient and grand building, she said it wasn't. Of course, no-one seems to be in love with their home town. I guess you become accustomed to it and immune to it's beauty. But even as a tourist, I saw the admission's fee as steep for a building that you can see in full merely by gazing between it's pillars.
As you can imagine, cramming all of Verona's top site's into one little weekend was quite a feat. Napping in the car journey, I arrived still slightly energy-deficient and hazy-eyed at Verona's picturesque Lake Garda which, initially, I could not believe was a lake. Spanning for miles on end, Lake Garda's holds the illusion of an ocean. One of the few things that give it away as being a fresh-water lake, include the flurries of Swans, goslings and ducks that crowd it's shores. My friend and I walked for about forty-minutes alongside the lake, taking in all of it's natural, stunning scenery. Reaching one of the lake's edges, and a harbour, we ended our walk with ice-cream at the Gelateria Flora.
Finally, on the afternoon of that saturday, my friend took me to an area of Verona that I had been anticipating the most, since I was a little girl, the Casa di Giulietta. Moved by the tale that I'd read about in my English classes and watched on TV, I relished the prospect of visiting a site where Juliet was supposed to have spoken "O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?". But did visiting the actual place resemble the image I had created for myself in my head? Yes and no. As I had expected, the site was just as bustling and warm in atmosphere as I had thought it would be. Groups of girlfriends and couple's alike, cued up to pose with the famed Juliet statue which supposedly brings good fortune to those unlucky in love. Padlocks and post-it notes left from lovers been-and-gone, coated the door-ways and the walls. The only thing that marred the experience was the way in which the density of tourists detracted from the scene's serenity. Not to mention the graffiti, chewing gum and wall indentation's that make it clear that this is a place that is far from unknown.
But besides the slightly disappointing, though not unexpected wear-and-tear, I have no regrets about visiting the setting of a tale that captured my heart and the hearts of so many others.
With so many other fascinating places and things to do in Italy, as Jen Reviews reveals, I doubt I'll be away for too long.