Cue the soundtrack of sniffles and over-done crying, because this is my last post about my crazy tour of Italy. I’ve loved sharing my favorite places and restaurants with you, and while I’m sad this is my last Italy-centered piece (until I return, that is), I’m so excited for my upcoming trip to Belgium! As you’ve probably ascertained from the title, I managed to squeeze in a day trip to Verona while staying in Milan. It was added onto my itinerary at the very last minute after I realized I had one more day of travel to use with my Eurail pass, and I’m so happy I made the trip!
When I first walked into the city center, I couldn’t help but notice the huge fair that was going on. I’m still not quite sure what event was happening, but whatever it was involved lots of food stands displaying the most tantalizing array of Italian dried meats and cheeses. Looming behind the food was a colosseum; did you guys know Verona had a colosseum too? I had no clue until I showed up and saw it smack in the center of the city. I didn’t go on a tour because it was rather pricey and, well, I’d already seen the original in Rome, so I didn’t feel the need to tour a second one.
After sampling my way through the food stalls, I made my way immediately to Juliet’s House. Like any good traveler, I had prepared myself for my trip to Italy by watching Letters to Juliet, which waxes poetic on all things Juliet/Shakespeare/love related (if you haven’t seen this movie, watch it immediately. It’s so cliche, but so good). Naturally, I had my hopes high for Juliet’s House. Unfortunately, it was a huge let down. This is probably the only place in Italy I would say you should absolutely avoid visiting. The “museum” costs 6 Euros, but there’s nothing inside. And by nothing, I mean nothing. You actually walk through empty rooms (there’s a bed in one from an old film version of Romeo and Juliet, but that’s about it). If you have your heart set on visiting Juliet’s House like I did, I’d say stick to looking at the balcony from the outside and then move on.
Luckily, the rest of my day picked up immensely after that. Verona has five major basilicas, the Duomo, San Zeno, Sant’Anastasia, San Fermo Maggiore, and San Lorenzo. Although you have to pay to enter these basilicas, you can visit all five with a single ticket that costs maybe 5 or 6 Euros. The Duomo is definitely worth visiting, and the other four are like an added bonus. If you’re wanting to visit each church, I’d definitely recommend doing other activities in between visits, otherwise you’ll feel burned out by the last basilica.
In true Claire fashion, I ended my day with a visit to the Giusti Gardens, which are across the river from the Basilica of Sant’Anastasia. These gardens blew me away. Even though they were relatively small in size, they were the best cared for, most ornate gardens I’d seen in Italy. The line of cypress trees down the middle walkway made every Italian fantasy of mine come to life, and the hedge mazes, although only waist height, were so hard to navigate. There’s a lower portion to the gardens and an upper part that you climb up to, and you can see the entire city from above. I was in the gardens just before sunset, and the play of light on the statues and grottoes was stunning. What’s so great about these gardens is that they’re just far enough away from the main attractions of the city to give you a reprieve from all the noise and just relax for a bit.
All in all, I really loved Verona, but I’d say that you can make do with a day trip here. If you’re planning on spending an extended amount of time in the city, you’ll definitely want to plan day trips to some surrounding places because although there’s a lot of stuff to do in Verona, it’s not exactly a destination you need a week to explore.
Have any of you visited Verona before? And do you have any movie recommendations for me? After watching Letters to Juliet, I’m in a definite travel-movie mood.