Alas, I came upon another free weekend, and so the group decided to travel to Verona for the day last Saturday. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. The train ride was a bit longer than I expected, since Verona isn’t that far away, but it was worth it. Actually, the first train stop from Padova on the way to Verona was Vicenza, and we’ll probably visit that sometime soon. Strangely, the train was packed with people going to Verona that day . . .
When we arrived in Verona, the first thing we did was stop for lunch, since we didn’t get there until after noon. I caved in to my America cravings and ordered a cheeseburger, only to find that it was pretty bad . . . I don’t know why I expected anything else, ma va bene.
Then we began a tour of the city. First we saw l’Arena, which is an ancient Roman amphitheater, the third largest after the Coliseum in Rome and the amphitheater in Capua. It was cool, but unfortunately, it had already closed for tours.
We ventured further into the city until we reached the Piazza dell’Erbe. Upon seeing the huge tower, we decided to see if we could climb to the top. Thankfully, there was a student price of 5 euro, which was better than the normal price of 8. The Torre die Lamberti stands 84 meters high . . . I should’ve counted how many steps there were. We decided not to take the elevator, still confident of our climbing skills from the previous week’s trip to the Dolomites.
Unlike the campanile of the Duomo in Florence, this tower didn’t have landings every so often up the stairs. We marched all the way to the up and reached a beautiful vista where we took some pictures. Then we saw that you could climb even higher to they tippy-top. This was slightly more interesting, but the openings were covered by nets (so you didn’t jump off), so we weren’t that impressed. Also, the bells went off while we were up there, which was quite loud. However, we still real enjoyed the view — definitely worth the effort.
After climbing down, we decided to see the famous Balcone di Giulietta, or Juliet’s Balcony. You are supposed to believe that this is where Juliette “might” have uttered the famous lines “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?” if the following points were true: 1) Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette is real, and 2) the balcony
was constructed around over 400 years ago . . . FALSE! Turns out that the Balcony was added to the building around 100 years ago. Anyway, the place was still pretty interesting. There were walls were couples and lovers would write messages (which frequently get painted over to make room for more graffiti), and some of them were attached via Band-Aid #gross.
Later, having satiated our hunger for gelato, we continued to tour the rest of the city. Other notable sights included the Basilica di San’Anastasia, another Duomo, and the Ponte di Petri. All were pretty cool, except you had to pay to see the Basilica di San’Aanastasia — not so cool.
After stopping for an aperitivo/a necessary glass of wine, we went to look for some place to have dinner. I had written down two places that were recommended online, but I neglected to write down the addresses, so that was useless. Now I have to say something about group traveling:
Group traveling is nice, since it’s always better to visit foreign places with other people, and it helps to travel in numbers for safety and logistical reasons. HOWEVER, traveling with others is not always ideal. For example, I was hoping to find a restaurant that served traditional Veronese dishes, such as polenta and horse meat (which I hear is really good). But since some members of our large group hadn’t managed their meal stipend so well, they only wanted to eat cheaply, which meant pizza or focaccia. What’s more upsetting is that some of these people squander their money on cigarettes/tobacco and gelato frequently, and then they complain about not having enough money for food. I tried to find nicer places on the way, but many restaurants weren’t open until later, so we settled for a place that made calzones.
It actually wasn’t that bad, especially since I chose one of the best slices of pizza (or at least the most interesting) I have ever had in my life. It was a pizza made only of cheese: gorgonzola, mozzarella, gouda, brie, and ricotta. It was truly amazing.
Side note: we also ran into a marching band that was playing through the streets — not sure why there was a parade, but it was pretty cool to follow them for a bit.
After walking around the town some more, we decided to leave earlier than I had planned, since one of our groups members was feeling really sick.
All in all, Verona was a beautiful city, and we had fun. I don’t know that I would need to go back to see more, unless if to try the local polenta and horse meet dishes.