Where to go in Italy? Visit the romantic Verona

Juliet’s house, where the lovesick Romeo dawdled, is romantically beautiful, although not so much on February 14th when crowds of pubescent teenagers hang about, sticking love notes into every crack of the wall, and gazing up at the famous balcony as if longing for their own dreamed of Juliet or Romeo to appear.

Admittedly the house is beautiful. Built in the 13th century from the local rose-tinted stone, it has a marble balcony hanging over a courtyard around which the house is constructed. The large wooden door is completely covered in graffiti, as are some of the walls. Strangely, when one stands back from them they look rather beautiful. Layer upon layer of love messages, sprayed in rainbow colours merge together into a sort of Jackson Pollock canvas.

Italy – Verona – Romeo’s house

As for Romeo’s house – there’s nothing to distinguish it from any other building on Via delle Arche Scaligeri other than a small bronze plaque on the door. It is not open to the public and has not been restored. The inscription on the plaque is rather unfortunate: “O, where is Romeo” Tut, I have lost myself, I am not here, this is not Romeo, he’s some other where.”(Act I, Scene 1) Of course he’s not there, he never was!

Italy: Verona – Shakespeare in Verona?

It’s all fantasy. At the city walls there is another inscription from the Bard. “There is no world without Verona walls/But Purgatory, torture, hell itself.” How did he know? As far as we can tell, Shakespeare had never been to Verona. The original story of the unhappy lovers came to him by word of mouth. It did, however, have its origins here. It was written for the first time and performed as a play in Verona in the 1520’s, quite some time before Shakespeare’s version took to the Elizabethan Stage

The Roman arena is the star of Verona. Over two millennium ago this is where Christians, criminals, and gladiators died in their thousands, all in the name of entertainment. Nowadays, during the summer, the Arena is lit by hundreds of candles and filled with the sound of music from lavish opera productions. Off season, when you can have this enormous, impressive space almost to yourself it has its own very special atmosphere. Voices echo softly from the inner corridors from which lions emerged to fight their unequal battles.

Italy: Verona – An Historic Market Place

Piazza Bra is the largest square but the focal point of the town is Piazza delle Erbe. This, more or less, is where the Forum was – the market place of ancient Rome – and it remains a market place. The square is surrounded by beautiful buildings. On the north side is the 14th century Casa Mazzanti which is not, as its name might indicate, one house, but rather about half a block of what we might today call townhouses. They are covered with frescoes, bright and fresh and powerful in their representation of the allegories of Ignorance, Greed, Moderation and Love.

When Venice was no more than a small fishing port Verona was, by the1st century BC, already an important Roman settlement and within a couple of hundred years, it became a major cultural center. Today, it is one of the most charming towns in Italy.