Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- The balcony on “Juliet’s House” was added in the 1930s, inspired by Shakespeare’s play.
- Verona’s name is linked to the root wehr, meaning a defensive wall.
- Forty percent of Verona’s buildings and all bridges were destroyed in World War II.
- “Two Gentlemen of Verona” is generally considered to be Shakespeare’s first play.
- Verona’s Arena was the Roman Empire’s second largest after Rome’s Colosseum.
Romeo, Juliet — and an opera fest
Verona relies on a big lie (well, a literary fiction) to attract tourists in numbers. The fiction, of course, is the story of star-crossed lovers immortalized by Shakespeare in “Romeo and Juliet.” The playwright set his drama in Verona, and today specific sites are identified as the lovers’ homes and another as Juliet’s tomb.
It’s a charade enjoyed by all, especially as Verona is a beautiful city, richly endowed with the bridges, palaces, theaters, walls and other structures dating from the medieval period or earlier. Because much has survived (or was restored after war), it doesn’t require a lot of imagination to conjure the city of Shakespeare’s characters.
However, the real reasons Verona’s fans give it good ratings relate to its history starting with the Romans who left not one, but two theaters, among other things; the visual charm of its medieval center; culture — meaning festivals, museums and food; and not least, the city’s location in northern Italy near wine regions, mountains that draw active travelers in summer or winter and Lake Garda — ideal for daylong outings that can be very active or very laidback.
No matter their interest in theater, most Verona tourists make the obligatory visits to sites associated with Romeo and Juliet.
Whether by design or serendipity, they also are drawn to the public squares, most often to the Piazza delle Erbe, a marketplace in the former Roman Forum, today surrounded by medieval buildings; Piazza dei Signori, home to former government buildings dating from the Middle Ages, and Piazza Bra abutting the Roman Arena. The Arena resembles Rome’s circular Colosseum but is smaller.
Other top choices are the cathedral (Duomo) and the 14th century fortress Castelvecchio, now a museum. Strollers also pass over bridges and through gates with Roman and medieval origins.
No question, Verona is a romantic city, both for its appearance and its link to a romantic tale. It is a city of music, too, noted for its annual opera festival staged in the Arena. Other events are also presented in the Arena and in the smaller Roman Theater.
Finally, this is northern Italy. The food and wine are good.
Things to do for Venturers
- Test your memory, and recite some of Shakespeare’s words in appropriate settings — whether from “Romeo and Juliet” or “Two Gentlemen of Verona.”
- Head to the Valpolicella’s hills or Lessinian Mountains outside of town with a mountain bike for some serious fun on two wheels.
- In winter, combine a good look at Verona with a ski or snowboarding vacation at Santa Cristina/Val Gardena or at another area resort.
- Try the windsurfing on Lake Garda. Kite surfing is an option, too.
- Climb Verona’s Lamberti Tower for great views of the city and area.
- For good luck, rub Juliet’s breast — referring here to the bronze statue of the doomed heroine that stands in the courtyard of the house associated with her.
Things to do for Centrics
- Seek out and photograph the vegetable market and the architecture in Piazza delle Erbe in the center of town.
- Attend an opera at the Roman amphitheater (the Arena) in Verona.
- Set out on a wine-tasting tour to the nearby vineyards of Valpolicella and Soave.
- Use your imagination in visualizing Roman Verona. Walk along Corso Cavour, Corso Portoni Borsari and Corso Santa Anastasia, a path that approximates the Roman Empire’s Via Postumia and takes you to the site of the Roman Forum, now Piazza delle Erbe.
- Cool off with an excursion on the Adige River. Board a rafting dinghy and paddle your way through town and under historic bridges.
- Sample the Vialone Nano variety of rice, for which the region is known, and buy rice to stock your kitchen, too.
Things to do for Authentics
- Visit the medieval palace traditionally associated with the fictional Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet.” Also, visit the house identified with Romeo and a site called Juliet’s tomb.
- Plan an itinerary that traces Roman history in Verona; relevant attractions include an amphitheater, a smaller theater, gates plus a bridge, the Ponte Pietra.
- Find romance in this romantic city. Enjoy fine Italian cooking with your significant other, and order a local Bardolino wine as well.
- Use Verona as your base for a religious pilgrimage. Set your sights on Madonna del Frassino in Peschiera, noted for the Renaissance frescoes in its sanctuary, and the sanctuary of Madonna della Corona, a church perched in the rocks high above Lake Garda.
- Look for art treasures in the museums, like the museum now housed at the 14th century Castelvecchio, and in the churches. The city’s cathedral (the Duomo) and the Church of San Zeno Maggiore come to mind.
- Enjoy a glass of wine and the people watching at Piazza delle Erbe or at Piazza Bra.
For more information, consult Tourism Verona at www.tourism.verona.it/en