12 April 30 - May 13, 2014
The city of one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies
PHOTOS BY LORENZA BACINO
Verona, known as the city of Romeo and Juliet, is a romantic picturesque medieval town in northeast Italy with so much to explore LORENZA BACINO
students clap in unison to check out the acoustics, sending tinkling ripples around the theatre.
around are whispering to each other in hushed tones, not wishing to disturb the aura of peace and tranquillity. The gardens are terraced, and as you stroll along the cypress-lined paths, the city across the river gradually reveals itself. Apart from half a dozen belfry towers, no tall buildings spoil the skyline. It is as it would have been in medieval times with its terracotta and yellow hues. The belvedere at the top of the gardens is decorated with a towering carved monster. Legend has it that it emits tongues of fire from its mouth. Also worth visiting on this side of the river is the Roman Theatre and archaeological museum. The well-preserved theatre dates back to the first century BC, but was built over by houses and churches, until a wealthy 18th century merchant called Andrea Monga excavated and re-discovered it. It’s also used for performances during the summer months.
Flowers, cafés, and aperitifs Historical Verona I am gazing across at the dimly Around the Arena in Piazza Bra’, lit balcony where the star- a delightful and colourful flower struck lovers used to meet and market is coming to life. I sit in one am completely alone on this of the cafes in the sun and enjoy warm spring evening – alone Verona’s favourite aperitif – the in a courtyard that’s normally spritz aperol. It’s bright orange teaming with tourists, eager to like the sunshine and comes add another love note to the over- with crisps and olives: just the scribbled wall under the arch. refreshing pick-me-up you need I’m fortunate enough to be when being a culture buff. Despite staying in the courtyard of Juliet’s its bright, innocent appearance, house in Verona. The Sogno di beware – there is white wine or Giulietta hotel (Juliet’s dream) is Prosecco within, which begins the only other building within the to conspire with the sun to make courtyard and my room is right you woozy. across from Juliet’s balcony. In Backtracking to the gorgeous the evenings the gates are closed Renaissance Piazza Erbe, I to the public and guests are able admire the frescoes adorning to enjoy a private moment. the surrounding buildings and Verona is in the Veneto region decide to climb the Lamberti of northern Italy and straddles Tower nearby to get a rooftop view. the Adige River. It’s also a UNESCO Surprisingly, I’m the only person World Heritage Site because of its on this fine spring morning many ancient Roman monuments. climbing the 368 steps to the top The historic centre is charming of this 12th century tower, and and compact, easily visited and my breath and footsteps are the Juliet’s tomb and Frescoes enjoyed on foot, and brimming only sounds in my ears. Vertigo While Juliet’s house and balcony with medieval palaces, ancient begins to tighten its grip and are worth a fleeting visit, I found ruins, and Renaissance frescoes. Hitchcock’s film flashes through Juliet’s tomb, which also houses Eager to visit the Roman Arena, my mind. The bells are huge and the Fresco Museum, much more I take a stroll down Via Mazzini it’s deafening to be standing next interesting. It’s a short walk away from Piazza Erbe near my hotel, to them as they chime – both on from the city centre and displays towards Piazza Bra’ to the Arena. I the hour and every half hour. It’s a gorgeous collection of medieval glide along the large marble slabs worth climbing the 84 metres to and Renaissance frescoes. It’s a of the pavement, feeling naughty the top, however, as the aerial view quiet spot with a peaceful little as I pick up my first ice-cream of is stunning. garden surrounded by porticoes the day. – a place to sit a while and gather The Arena is the third largest Across the Adige River your thoughts before deciding in Italy and dates from around The Lamberti Tower isn’t the only where to head next. AD 30. It can seat around 25,000 place to enjoy the scenery from on I highly recommend a visit to spectators. The opera season runs high, and I head across the Ponte Piazza dei Signori back in the each year from June to September. Pietra to the other side of the river. centre, and specifically to the During the warm summer Entering a rather unassuming Impero Pizzeria in one corner evenings, you can enjoy some of “portone”, I’m greeted by the sight of this charming square. Nicola the most popular operas including of some of Italy’s most beautiful is on hand to offer you a much Romeo and Juliet, Carmen, and Renaissance gardens, the Giardino needed spritz aperol and he has Turandot to name but a few. Giusti. The gardens are a wondrous by far the best prosciutto in town. As I emerge from the dank and collection of mythological statues, Juxtaposed with chunks of tasty spooky corridors into the bright fountains, flowers, and grottos, as parmesan, this is an ideal way to sunlight of the auditorium, I can well as one of the oldest labyrinths wind down your day and whet see preparations for this year in Europe. your appetite ahead of an evening are well underway. A group of The few people wandering meal. Further information: Verona Card The VeronaCard is an all-inclusive Left: Verona’s arena - check out which operas are on this summer and book ahead. The season runs from June to September Below: Juliet’s balcony - if you stay at the Sogno di Giulietta boutique hotel, you’ll be able to view the balcony from your hotel room well away from the crowds. In the evening the courtyard is closed to the public and is beautifully quiet
Top: Enjoy an aperol spritz and a view of the Arena in one of the numerous cafes around Piazza Bra’ in the centre of Verona Right: Catch site of some stunning balconies such as this in the city centre Below right: There are many such facades with renaissance frescoes in the city centre, the most beautiful in Piazza Erbe city-pass. €15 for 24 hours or €20 for 72 hours (valid from first entry). Includes free entry to Arena, Sant’Anastasia Church, San Zeno Church, Juliet’s House, San Fermo Church, Duomo, Castelvecchio Museum, Natural History Museum, Radio Museum, Maffeiano Museum, Modern Art Gallery, Roman Theatre, Lamberti Tower, and Juliet’s Tomb. Also included is free local bus travel and reduced entry to the African Museum, Giusti Gardens, and AMO (Opera) Museum. http://www.turismoverona.eu Don’t miss 1. Verona Opera season – www. arena.it is the official website. The season runs between June and September and you can check out the programme and book your tickets online. Some highlights this year include Carmen, Placido Domingo, Turandot, Romeo and Juliet, Madame Butterfly and more. 2. Take a trip to nearby Lake Garda. If you have time, the Lake is an easy half-hour drive away, and there are regular trains. It’s on the Milan–Venice train line. Train rides take between 20 and 40 minutes to Desenzano. This is the biggest town and the most expensive, but the nicest views of the Lake can be had from Malcesine and Riva. 3. Three Shakespeare plays are set in Verona, but he also set plays in Venice, Mantua, and Padua. They’re all a short distance away and could be a pleasant way to round off a “Shakespeare” tribute tour of Italy. Getting there Lorenza travelled with Selective
Travel Abroad, a family-run travel and tour operator specialising in trips to Verona and Lake Garda. All accommodation bookings, excursions, and car hire can be done online here http://www. selectivetravel.com. Also you can email or call them to arrange your trip. Verona’s Valerio Catullo airport is 8 miles from the city, a short taxi ride. See www.atv.verona.it for
Aerobus information between Verona railway station and the airport. Buses leave every 20 minutes and the journey takes about 20 minutes depending on traffic. bioLorenza Bacino is an AngloItalian journalist and travel writer. She’s based in London and you can see more of her published work at: www.cuttings.me/users/ lorenzabacino