Nowhere is as appealing as its potential when you arrive in rain that can only be described as torrential. And the first impressions from the rather drab Porta Nuova train station didn’t help either.
But before you think I’m painting a sorry picture, rest assured that things looked up. Mostly because once the rain stopped, I could look up, too. And once my eyes were drawn upwards, my jaw fell downwards, dropping in awe of this stunning city.
Just so you know that Verona did indeed seduce me, here’s a photo to prove just how beautiful it is.
When the rain stopped there was always something to look at. Worth bearing in mind too, that sometimes it’s also good to look down. Especially when the streets are paved in marble! And only in Rome have I seen buildings so adorned with such impressive and beautiful touches of history as they were here.
I like places with history and Verona just oozes with it. The Roman Arena impressed me by its sheer scale. It’s not easy to describe the significance of visiting a place like this, or how stepping into both it and the past really makes you feel.
All those things you learned in school about the Romans start to seep out of the nooks and crannies of your brain, leaving you wondering what your childhood self would have made of such an amazing spectacle.
Although the arena somehow commands the city, these are not the only ruins. In fact I think I actually liked it best when we just stumbled across the legacy of Ancient Rome in the middle of the street.
Verona also beckons those travellers searching for love to visit the House of Juliet. Although more the stuff of imagination than history, it’s something you must see so that you too can join the legions of lovers who have stared with starry eyes at that famous balcony.
Much as I fell under Verona’s spell, I’m not sure how much I’d have enjoyed a visit in the height of the summer season. Although it would have given me the chance to see the opera, I suspect strolling the streets would have been somewhat more of a challenge. Despite my best efforts, I admit I sometimes let battling the throngs of other visitors spoil my experiences just a little. Especially when the temperature is soaring.
But Verona in October with it’s dwindling numbers of tourists, gave me the opportunity to get stuck right in to Italy. It gave me the chance to eat where the locals eat, without the crutch of a menu written in English. It also gave me the chance to walk among the super stylish Italian women in the Piazza delle Erbe market, toting their Louis Vuitton bags and waltzing with their tiny canine companions.
This was where I found and fell for real Italy.
Travelling in the Autumn also gave us real value for money. For 80 euros a night, we had a first rate stay in a luxury B&B. And if you ate and drank in cosy back street places (always the way to go), refuelling was not the expensive experience many seem to expect in Italy. Two courses, dessert to share and a bottle of decent wine came in at about 50 euros (even cheaper with a house carafe). Lunch time paninis and coffee cost us around 12.
So I’m happy to report that we came back with spare spends (which will give us a good start for the Munich Christmas markets next month)!
So, should you go to Verona?
The city has so much to offer for a short break and you can easily tie your stay in with visiting Lake Garda, either just for a day or for a longer trip. It’s also an easy journey from Verona to Venice by train. So whether you spend all your time here or use it as a base to explore the wider region, Verona is a great Italian city destination with great food and wine as well as amazing stuff to see.
There are sightseeing tour buses but the compact city centre is so easy to stroll around. And that way you get to see Verona’s secret sights, which are really all around (I’ll post about them soon).
I’d like to return to Verona one day, not just because it’s beautiful, but because I keep trying to imagine the wonder of the opera playing out in the Arena and I simply can’t. I just get the sense that I need to see it and feel it. Even if it does mean having to join the summer crowds.
Then maybe one day, I’ll get to write about that too.
Have you been to the opera in Verona? Was it fabulous? Or do you have any other thoughts to share? Please use the comments to let me know!