Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Day in Verona, You Won't Regret It!

“She dreams of him that has forgot her love; You dote on her that cares not for your love." William Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Most people traveling to Italy for the first time, will center their energies in visiting Rome, #Florence, #Venice and maybe parts of Southern Italy.  But if you have been here before or have a bit more time to spare, consider visiting #Verona, the city of love, even if it is only for a few hours.

The city of Verona has been designated as a UNESCO's World Heritage Site, due to it's artistic heritage.  In my opinion, it offers a bit of everything: historic buildings, a unique architecture, good food and fashion.  The Arena of Verona, a Roman amphitheater, is the scenario of an important lyrical season.  Tickets for the 2014 Opera Season are already on sale (for purchasing tickets click here).  The Arena, which predates the Roman Colosseum, is located in #PiazzaBra, an open square that is the beginning of a pedestrian area, leading to the center of town.

Depending on your time and your planning, you can tour the Arena or attend one of the many shows taking place in it.  Even if you only see it from outside it's a sight worth seeing.  From there, the logical route is to take the pedestrian street Via Giuseppe Mazzini, where you will find a surprising array of fashion houses' stores.  When I visited Verona for the first time, I wasn't expecting this extra bonus!  If you are planning to splurge in some shopping, here is your chance (wink).

Taking a right at Via Cappello you will reach #Giulietta's House.  For many years the property of the Cappello family, it has the family crest and coat of arms in the inner courtyard.  The entry way leading to the courtyard is walled by white panels where hundreds of people draw hearts with their names and their significant other's. Tip: Pack a Sharpie!!  In the courtyard you'll find a bronze statue of Giulietta.  It's customary to take a photo holding her breast.  Then, for six euros, (1 Euro for children 8-14, and on February 13, 15 and 16.  On February 14th, the visit to Giulietta's house is FREE!)  you can visit the inside of the house, where several medieval bridal dresses are on display.  If you love weddings as much as I do, the visit is well worth the six euros.  Tip: If possible, take turns visiting the house, so someone in your group can take your picture while you stand in the most famous balcony in the world!

On the opposite direction, Via Cappello will take you to Piazza delle Erbe, another open square with many restaurants perfect of a coffee stop or for an apperitivo (happy hour).  There are kiosks with all kinds of souvenirs to take back home.  As I normally do, I avoid eating at those touristy restaurants.  They are OK for a drink to enjoy the piazza's ambiance, but the food is not a good representation of the amazing cuisine of this country.

Today, during my visit to Verona, after spending some time forcing the kids to pose for my pictures, I walked a few blocks away from the main attractions looking for a restaurant with good food and decent prices.  I ended up close to Ponte Pietra (stone bridge), another must stop in Verona.  Cappa Caffe (Piazzetta Bra' Molinari, 1) was an unexpected find.  One of those places where you would never guess what's inside, judging by their entrance.  Inside was this chic restaurant/lounge, that served us an excellent pizza for six euros and up.  Their white wash walls and decor hinted of a happening place for an apperitivo (happy hour) or an evening meal.  

All an all, Verona has enough going for it to make it a stop on your next trip to Italy.  There are several churches and museums to visit.  If I can lure you in with Romeo and Giulietta, you will not be disappointed because Verona offers much more than that.


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