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Insights from Italy—Day 16: Verona, the city of love

 

Juliet's balcony

 

Verona, the city of love. Well, I’m in love. Yes, of course with my husband of twenty-five years, but I’m also in love with another one of Italy’s famous cities. We arrived by taxi to Verona’s centro dela città (pronounced cheetah) or city center where the first stop on our mapped out walking tour was Juliet’s home. Verona does a lovely tribute to Shakespeare’s most romantic characters. Fiction, or not, tourists flock to see the tiny courtyard, the lovely stone balcony and the statue of Juliet. According to my guidebook, people do send or leave letters addressed simply to Juliet, Verona, Italy. We didn’t see them, but volunteers collect the letters and send replies (just like the movie).

From there we walked down a few more streets and checked out a piazza and a local market. I was fascinated by the unique products the artisans had. Most were sitting behind a table, working on their craft, like the old man creating mosaics.

 

Italian craftsman

 

He had small precut pieces of marble―different sizes, shapes and colors. I watched as he looked through his pile of marble to find just the right pieces and put them together to create a pattern. A woman was selling babies―yes babies. Not the Cabbage patch knockoffs that were all the rage a few years ago, although the construction and materials might be similar. These looked so lifelike that if you put one in a stroller and walked down the street you would have plenty of oohs and awes over what a cute baby you have! Seriously! She was holding one in her arms and I had to look twice to see if it was real or one of her creations.

As the crowds grew, we decided to deviate from our plan and find what looked (on our map) to be a path along the Adige River.

 

Adige River in Verona

 

We’re glad we did, because we spent the next few hours strolling along one of the prettiest (and cleanest) rivers we’ve seen yet in our travels. Along the way, we climbed to Castel Saint Pietro (more steps!) for an incredible view of the city, sat in an almost deserted park overlooking the river, and sauntered through Castelvecchio, a medieval-looking monstrosity that was built as a home and fortress by Verona’s powerful Scaligeri family in the fourteenth century.

As we headed toward the train station, we passed through Piazza Brà (pronounced just like the support garment, but in Italian it means open space) It was packed with people and cordoned off so we couldn’t get in to view the Roman amphitheater. Spectators were cheering and as we got closer, we were amused to see five-year-olds riding bikes (some with training wheels) around the ancient stadium. There appeared to be as many as a hundred bikes and watching the little munchkins, it was obvious they were in it to win.

We’ve learned much since we’ve been away. First of all, don’t try to pack too much into a day or a week or three weeks! Standing to consume coffee and snacks costs much less than sitting. Paying for the use of toilets doesn’t mean they will be clean. Regional trains are cheap―really cheap. If you buy your ticket from the biglietto (ticket stand in the train station) as opposed to the vending machines, you save a lot. Italians are friendly and even if they don’t speak much English they will help you find your way with gestures or ask someone they know whose English is better. And finally (I just discovered this tonight) bidets are great for soaking your feet after a long day of walking:-)

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