“There is no world without Verona walls…”
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act III
When I travel, I’m not really the researcher type. I love booking the tickets, finding hotels and looking up generic places to visit, but I spend just a fraction of the preparation time on all of this. I guess I love the thrill of visiting the place itself with fresh eyes, not having seen much of a teaser first through my computer screen. All that to say, I didn’t even know Verona existed or that it was the likely setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet masterpiece until the night before our arrival there! It was only a short train ride from where we were staying and we loved the idea of stepping off the map for a day trip and getting lost in a less touristy city.
Our biggest sightseeing stop in this city was “Juliet’s House” a 1300’s home with an iconic stone balcony, said to have inspired Shakespeare. The crowds were unbelievable! Couples writing their names in the brick archway and grabbing pictures on the balcony and with a bronze statue of Juliet. I wish I could’ve made the scores of people vanish and just basked in the beauty of that beautiful courtyard that inspired one of England’s greatest poets.
Anxious to finish being sardines in a can, we didn’t say long at Juliet’s House but quickly wandered back onto the streets. Verona was fairly large with all the major attractions we wanted to see in different corners of the city. So we walked more than my feet would like to remember.
But by far one of my favorite stops of the whole trip was our hike up to the Giusti Palace and Gardens. The Garden is known to be one of the finest exhibitions of Italian gardening and the palace was built in the 16th century. It was peaceful and stunning, and the creativity of the design and all the beautiful choice of foliage and flowers was fascinating.
We wandered through the perfectly symmetrical hedges and “cigar” trees, slowly reaching an incline which dropped us off at an ancient stone tower with a winding spiral staircase. It was like my dreams of Secret Garden but infinitely better.
The Gardens were so worth it, but because of the long walk, we had to head back early to see everything else on our list before our train back that evening. The Verona Arena was a great sampling to prepare us for Rome. While definitely smaller in scale due to only hosting operas and plays, the brilliancy of the architecture was still incredible.
On our way back to dinner and the train station, I spotted the most darling flower shop and was instantly smitten. That was when I was heartbroken to realize fresh flowers just wouldn’t survive in my suitcase back to the States.
Verona, oh Verona. You are beautiful.
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