Visiting Verona? You may have heard of the charming, little Italian town from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but do you know the city's secrets? Verona is so much more than just a place of star-crossed lovers. How do I know, you ask? It just so happens that I studied there during college. So c'mon, let's expLaur, and let me show you my fair lil' Verona :)
Casa di Giulietta
All right, all right--it's touristy. But, you're in VERONA for goodness sake. It kind of just comes with the territory. Embrace your inner lover, visit the place rumored to have been Juliet's balcony, and put a love lock on the wall. Engage in a little Verona tradition and grope Juliet's boob (don't ask, just do it) for some good luck in love. While you're there, send a letter to the famous Capulet daughter. There are actually real volunteers who respond to these lovesick letters (visit www.julietclub.com for details).
Fun fact: Though there was no real Romeo and Juliet here in Verona, Shakespeare modeled his famous love story after an actual feuding family of Verona. Juliet's now famous balcony once belonged to the real-life Cappello family.
Step foot into the Arena, and experience the ancient charm of this marvelous amphitheater. The amphitheater dates to the 1st century A.D. (older than the famous colosseum in Rome!) and still contains most of its original stone.
Fun fact: Did you know that Verona is filled with ancient Roman ruins? Due to Verona's pristine location, the city was used as a common resting place for ancient Romans on their way across the Alps. If you look hard enough, you'll find many ancient masterpieces still in tact all across the city. Pretty cool, huh?
Get a bird's-eye view of the city by going up the clock tower in the center of Piazza Erbe. Witness the overwhelming beauty of Verona from above, and marvel at its incredible Italian charm.
Tip: Try to visit around Valentine's Day to see the town decorated to the nines in hearts and attend the "Verona in Love" festival.
While in Verona, venture on over to Piazza Erbe, or the city's market square, where vendors and traders alike come to sell trinkets and treats. Find the freshest seasonal fruits and some souvenirs as well. Join all the locals and enjoy a classic Italian tradition known as an "aperitivo." At night, watch as young Veronans visit the bars and sip on their orange spritz and chomp on their crispy chips (a traditional apertivo).
Back in the Roman ages, Piazza Erbe used to be a forum, and people gathered around the square just as they do today. If you look closely, you'll even find a 500 year-old whale's rib hanging over one of the square's archways. The rib was left as a souvenir from the Orient by spice traders, says Rick Steeves. But I prefer to just sit and stare at all of Erbe's beauty. I love that little square so much, I even bought a painting from a sweet old painter on the street. Isn't it cute?
Proudly resting on the banks of the River Adige, this Medieval fortress was constructed in 1354 and was built to keep Verona safe. If you look closely, you can find the the Scala family's (basically Verona's Medici) coat of arms: the ladder.
Fun fact: Today, Verona's soccer team, Hellas Verona F.C., uses the Scala family ladder for its emblem on its jersey.
Man oh man, La Romana. If you're in the mood for a tasty treat and want to indulge in one of Italy's finest and most famous delicacies, you have to take a trip over to La Romana. With its fresh, fantastic flavors such as Biscott della nonna, this gelateria is sure to live up to every expectation. I crave it all too often. I've even been known to go back for a second cone; it really is that good. My tastebuds don't lie.
Can't decide on a flavor? No problem, get a double scoop for just €2.50. Amazing, I know.
Looking for a local place to get some delicious, authentic Italian food? Well, look no further than Greppia. Tucked away and hidden from the main road, this restaurant is anything but a tourist trap. Their rigatoni Bolognese is without a doubt one of my personal favorites. But don't just take my word for it, try it yourself--I can almost guarantee you won't be disappointed.
These bad boys are amazing; pop into almost any bakery in Verona, and you should be able to find some. Grab a handful to go, and munch on them along your adventure throughout the town for a sweet little treat.
Walk through Verona's largest pedestrian street, and indulge your fanciest fashionista. The long alleyways of streets connect Piazza Bra with Piazza Erbe, and are quite the place to be in Verona. Shops line the streets. Oh, and did I mention the street is paved with marble?
Ugh, Verona, I love you. Miss ya everyday, old pal.