Fair Verona

VERONA!! i had doubted whether or not going to Verona was going to be worth it because I had seen a lot of places that Verona was a bit of a tourist trap because of the Romeo and Juliet things, but two things had me holding out hope. The first was when The Unknown Chef went to Vinitaly and was posting a million pictures while he was there and responded to me on Instagram telling me to make sure that I go.. and the second was Jen telling me that we were going because it was great and, while touristy, amazing because it has so so so much history.

Verona is second to Bassano del Grappa on my favorite places in Italy. The history of the city, the Roman, Austrian and Italian influences, the everything. We followed the ever pleasant Rick Steves’ tour from his Italy book to see the main sites in the city and then wandered around in between.

The main street when you enter Verona is blocked off so that only the city maintenance vehicles can drive through it, as history states that the main walkway was meant for the strolling of the upper class folks and it was closed off after traffic in the area got too bad to enjoy the GIGANTIC sidewalk. In Verona, the only people allowed to drive are the locals, if you drive to the city, you have to park on the outskirts and walk into the city. It was kind of nice because there weren’t people driving everywhere and made it way easier to walk.

This city is amazing. It dates back to the Roman empire and there are ruins all over the city. Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of the Roman city underneath the current city. Along with Roman history, it was also part of Austria, as was a lot of northern Italy, for a long time before the Venetians took back over. There is a lot of World War 2 history here as well. There is a coliseum left over from the Romans that is still mainly intact. It’s two levels high currently and there are sections of the third level still standing. It’s pretty cool.

We tagged along with a tour group for a little bit because the guide was amazing and new a ton about the city that Rick didn’t add in his book. We found out about Dante, who was from Verona, that Shakespeare actually spent time in Verona because the details he wrote about are too accurate with Veronan history for them to be completely made up.

Apparently, there are a ton of people who don’t know that Romeo and Juliet is a story and it’s not real? Either way, Verona has done a great job in capitalizing on his play and how it wove into the city. The “Capulet” family was based on the “Cappello” family, the hatmakers and their house in the story is believed to be based on the houses on via Cappello. The city has a courtyard that is dedicated to “Juliet” and it has a balcony and a setting that could have easily been what Shakespeare based the famous balcony scene on.

We tagged along with a tour group for a little bit because the guide was amazing and new a ton about the city that Rick didn’t add in his book. We found out about Dante, who was from Verona, that Shakespeare actually spent time in Verona because the details he wrote about are too accurate with Veronan history for them to be completely made up.

Apparently, there are a ton of people who don’t know that Romeo and Juliet is a story and it’s not real? Either way, Verona has done a great job in capitalizing on his play and how it wove into the city. The “Capulet” family was based on the “Cappello” family, the hatmakers and their house in the story is believed to be based on the houses on via Cappello. The city has a courtyard that is dedicated to “Juliet” and it has a balcony and a setting that could have easily been what Shakespeare based the famous balcony scene on.

We walked around the city, got pastries, saw different monuments and things, saw the huge tombs of the Scaligeri family who were so good at asserting their power that they changed the laws to make sure they could be buried inside the city and this super awesome bridge called Ponte Pietra. It was an original marble bridge built by the Romans that was bombed in WWII. The Veronans salvaged as much of the marble as they could to rebuild the bridge, filling in the empty spaces with brick. It is truly stunning.

We ended our tour of Verona at Castelvecchio. The castle was built in the 14th century and made me feel like I was in Redwall or had instantly gone back in history. I could go on forever about Verona because I loved it so much. I can’t wait to go back.

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