"Not quite as expected......" Verona by leics
Verona Travel Guide: 1,694 reviews and 4,251 photos
We (the farmer's wife and I) took a daytrio from Mestre to Verona for these reasons:
* a colleague has extolled its virtues at length
* the FW wanted to see the Giardini Giusti, which had recently been featured on a BBC TV programme
* the FW was not overly impressed by Venice
So we went to Verona. I'd intended to visit the city myself at some point, knowing that Verona has some good Roman remains.
But there was something...something...which did not quite work for me. Whether it was slight frustration at being in a new place and not being able to explore its history in the way I normally do (the FW is not much interested in history) or whether it was the fact that Verona seemed so very tourist-oriented (at least, the bits that we saw)....complete with faux-gladiators lurking around the Arena and numerous tour groups....or whether it was simply that I was tired, I don't know. But Verona simply did not 'grab' me in the way almost all other Italian towns and cities have done.
We started off by taking a bus from the railway station to Piazza Bra (cue sniggers from many a British school-group child). It's a large square, with a pretty fountain and some greenery, abutting the vast Arena which dates from the first century AD. We didn't go in...it was besieged by tour groups and school parties throughout the day.
It was in Piazza Bra that my heart dropped, when I saw the portly gladiator and the gladiator-in-thick-woolly-tights and the gladiator-with-a-mobile-phone. And I watched them approaching visitors (the FW included), kissing hands, 'attacking' with swords and inveigling their way into photographs...and then asking for payment (using the universal rubbing-fingers-together gesture) after the photo had been taken.
We beat a hasty retreat along Via Mazzini, Verona's slippery-surfaced, pedestrianised, designer-shop-lined passeggiata route, into the rather lovely Piazza delle Erbe. Now *that* I did like...wonderfully shabby buildings line a huge square (originally the site of the forum) and the heart of the city. But even there lay disappointment, with the market stalls full of tourist tat. I looked at a necklace: the stall holder asked five euro. I laughed and walked away to shouts of 'Quattro euro! Trei euro!'. I don't like it when ripping off tourists is quite so blatant.
We wandered further, visiting the supposed 'Juliet's House' and thrusting out way through the throng of teenage tour groups. We didn't go inside..we didn't really get to see the courtyard, as it was so crowded. But the graffiti-covered walls were pretty unique. I've never seen graffiti written on chewing-gum before......
Onward, onward....and finally we arrived at the Giardinin Giusti 'Very *green*', said the FW, for Italian gardens do seem to err on the side of green and structure rather than colour and flowers. We saw very little colour and very few flowers in the Giusti gardens (the Boboli Gardens in Florence were much the same). But the box hedges were impressive, and the cypress avenue also, and we climbed up the belvedere to the highest level and experience a moment of sheer pleasure, sitting in the greenery, gazing over the rooftops of Verona to the sound of numerous all-slightly-different noontime bells.
And then onward....
We walked onward parallel to the river Adige, saw the Roman theatre (from the outside only), crossed the bridge and wandered back into the city centre. Midday hunger led us to a rather pleasant little bar/cafe opposite the Duomo, then more wandering through the streets until we finally ended up back at Piazza Bra.
We thought, as we'd 'done' Juliet's house that we might as well 'do' Juliet's grave (neither are really anything to do with Juliet, of course). We sought it out, got a little lost, eventually found the site. Entrance closed. We found another entrance but by then the urge had passed and we decided to call it a day.
I'm sure Verona has much more to offer than this. I'm sure if I'd explored the theatre, the Duomo, perhaps some of the other ancient churches, I'd have enjoyed the city much more. But this time I didn't and, perhaps, this time I only saw (in the main) what tour group visitors would see.
Best thing is to visit and decide for yourself. :-)
- Pros:Roman history, ancient buildings.
- Cons:Tour groups, school parties, gladiators, tourist-oriented.
- In a nutshell:More to explore than I discovered, I think.
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