“Fair Verona” as Shakespeare describes it in Romeo and Juliet is one of Europe’s most attractive cities. Like many places in Italy, it has several different faces. Taking in an opera in the Roman Arena is a great cultural experience, and Verona also has numerous beautiful churches. As the setting for one of Shakepeare’s greatest plays, a visit to Verona also provides encouragement to get to know Romeo and Juliet, or to revisit it if you know it already.
Going to an opera in the Arena was the highlight of my visit, but Verona is also a beautiful place just to walk around, as well as visiting the obvious tourist attractions. One of my favourite walks is down Lungadige, the road which runs parallel to the river, on the far side from the tourist centre. My first evening was beautiful, with bright sunshine, and a fresh breeze blowing from the river. The Adige is fast-flowing, and rushes under the bridges. My grandparents lived in Verona for a year some time in the early 1960s, and their flat was somewhere around here. My parents went to visit, soon after they were married, driving all the way from England in their little blue mini. So it was good to connect with family history, and see that my grandparents had based themselves in one of the most beautiful locations in the city. While walking down this side of the river, you can also take in the Roman theatre, and the Giardino Gusti.
There are numerous attractive churches in Verona, and I went to most of them. I would single out Sant’ Anastasia as one of the most beautiful, and I also rather liked the under-chapel in San Fermo Maggiore, which had a rather pleasant arrangement of greenery arranged around the crucifix, symbolising life. This was the church where I lit candles for parents and grandparents, as it was probably the nearest church to my grandparents’ flat.
A good evening walk is from Piazza Bra (the big square with the Arena) up Via Mazzini towards Piazza del Erbe. This is the favoured location for the passegiata when Italians come out, dressed up, to walk up and down and meet people. This is where Francesco da Mosta does this in the first part of his series Francesco’s Italy. For good views, go up the Torre di Lamberti or visit the Castelvecchio.