It’s no secret that travelling can be an energy drain. From the constant stream of new people, the lack of personal space in crowded dorm rooms, long train journeys and balancing the pressure to see it all with the pressure to take it slow, it can really wear down your enthusiasm after a while. Sometimes, you gotta just take a day to yourself, with no plans to do anything in particular, only to follow your whims. It was on such a whim that I took the train for a day trip to romantic Verona (for only 10 euros).
It was a beautiful, sunny day to get a taste of the city famous a particular romance between two unfortunate, star-crossed lovers.
Verona was busier and less laid back than Bologna and had more of a tourists-on-holiday feel. But this buzzing holiday atmosphere made it kind of exciting, too.
I walked from the train station to Piazza Bra and saw the Roman arena, which is now used as a stage for opera and Shakespeare performances. You can also visit the tomb of Juliet here.
I’m quite not sure why, but Verona has quite a lot of little French fries stalls, which were a convenient snack that I picked up on my way. Maybe I’m a terrible traveller for eating fries instead of authentic Italian food, but this was my day and I didn’t care.
From there, I headed towards the river through some nice but very commercialised streets to Juliet’s house, where you can see the balcony from which she called out to her lover in her infamous ‘wherefore art thou Romeo’ soliloquy.
You could write a note to your own beloved on the graffitied archway leading into the area.
You can pay to go up to the balcony for some photos.
I did none of those things.
I left as quickly as I arrived, so I didn’t have to deal with that ’embarrassed on behalf of humanity feeling’ that occasionally comes upon me when I see big groups of tourists taking selfies.
Then I walked further towards the river, past the beautiful Cheisa di Sant’Anastasia. Didn’t feel like paying to go in, despite my Lonely Planet’s recommendations. I was content admiring the exterior.
However, something that was worth paying for was the gelato at Gelateria Ponte Pietra, which turned out to be one of the best I’d tried in Italy. The scoops were generous and there were some creative and original flavours like chocolate-apricot.
The highlight of my visit were the beautiful renaissance gardens Giardino Giusti, which were created by a knight in the sixteenth century. They’re still kept in that same beautiful style with manicured hedges and sculptures of voluptuous ladies.
I spent the afternoon relaxing on the top lawn, admiring the stunning view of the city, taking some photographs and reading my book.
There did seem to be romance in the air in Verona, I saw couples everywhere. I wonder if Shakespeare chose Verona for his love story because it’s such a romantic place, or if its a romantic place because Shakespeare chose it for his love story.
I can’t say that I relate very much to the characters of Romeo or Juliet. I’d like to think I’m more of a run-away-and-travel-the-world kind of girl than a stab-yourself-over-your-boyfriend kind of girl. However, I certainly felt that spark in the air in Verona. Only it was a spark for life and for adventure, rather than for a romance.