It is an obligatory choice: if you are looking for one romantic destinationimmediately, one thinks of Verona. And we owe this sugary fate to Shakespeare that setting here, on theAdige, the mythical story of Romeo and Juliet has transformed it into the cradle of every heartbeat. In the symbol of the city of passion. And it’s a shame because flipping through the guide of Verona it turns out that this city actually has much more to offer than the memory of an unhappy relationship.
Guide to Verona: history and an unhappy love
However she is the symbol: and so let’s start from Juliet and her house. To get there leave yourself behind Piazza delle Erbe and feed via Cappello, one of the prettiest streets in the center. Here you will find yourself in front of the famous house which, however, looks more like a teenager’s bedroom than a treasure chest of emotions and feelings. Even a bit chubby. Even before you enter the courtyard you will be taken aback by padlocks, graffiti, tickets and even chewing gum invading the walls. It sounds unromantic as an approach, but that’s the price you pay for becoming a global icon. Visited every year since one million people.
The building, which dates back to the 13th century, was for a long time owned by the hat family and the proof lies in the coat of arms engraved right on the arch that leads to the courtyard. The one where crowds of tourists kill each other with selfies. From Hat to Capulet: the similarity of the names meant that it was believed that, precisely this, was Juliet’s housethe heroine of Shakespeare’s tragedy. On the other hand, the building lends itself: it has a beautiful internal facade in exposed brick, a gothic portalconvoluted windows, a balustrade that connects the various parts of the house from the outside and, of course, the famous balcony. The whole was restored in 1935 by Antonio Avena and the works have also allowed the interiors to be brought back to lost splendour frescoes, fireplaces and stairs in wood full of atmosphere.
The buildings in the center
In the courtyard, then, the bronze statue of Juliet, the work of the sculptor, stands out Nereus Costantini. But it’s not the original: it’s a copy. The real one is found inside because in the 2014 has been replaced. The reason? The metal was consumed by the passion of the visitors, that how lucky gesture they touch Juliet’s right breast. They say that in doing so, love is found. But there are no statistics whether that is true.
Having paid homage to the girl we can continue the tour and go back up Piazza delle Erbe built on the ancient Roman forum but which has changed shape over time. Remaining however, you don’t need the Verona guide to understand it, the heart of the city with i palaces, cafes, tourist junk but also its undeniable fascination with the its mix of styles, history and smells. All around are austere palaces, such as the Palace of Reasonthe Mazzanti Housesthe Palazzo Maffei and the Merchants House and in the center stands the stone aedicule where once it was checked that the goods were weighed and sold correctly.
During the Middle Ages and the urban chaos that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire with its strict urban planning rules, the square partially changed its shape. From a rectangle it became a sort of rhombus, halving its extension but continuing to maintain the role of socio-economic center of Verona.
The old market and the coffee stop
In the center developed the spice market, the herbs that gave the square its name. Spices were indeed the main commodity, but all kinds of trading took place on the square. Today however, there are many souvenir stalls of dubious taste and the real market has been somewhat lost: but it has remained a meeting place. And you too, do as the locals do: stop by for a glass in one of the cafes. Why to browse all the guide of Verona there is still a long way to go.
The next stop is Scaliger Arks, the majestic and scenographic sepulchre, which gives over seven hundred years it houses the mortal remains of the ancient lords of Verona. You get there by passing through square of the lords – the name is not causal: the places of power were concentrated here – and passing under an arch. Gentlemen, as we know, love to leave traces of themselves. And the Scaliger Arches are just that, a private cemetery which is also one of the most glitzy examples of Gothic style.
Here rest the princes of the family Della Scalawith their elaborate equestrian sculptures that rise to the sky as in an interminable petrified tournament and it is useless to try to describe them: they are too rich to fit in a paragraph. But suffice it to say that the first dates back to 1277 and the latest to a century and a half later and that over time the glitz exploded. And that of Cangrandethe most famous, celebrates the lord with bas-reliefs showing his military victories and a statue of him dying. As if he were a deity.
The guide of Verona: the castle and the bridge
At this point there are two alternatives: the first door towards the Adigepassing through via Rome where stands out the Castelvecchiothe castle of Verona built in the mid-14th century by will of Cangrande II della Scala. A visit here will bring you back into the Medieval Verona: once upon a time, we are in the 14th century, it was an impregnable fortress designed to protect the Della Scala family from riots in the city and from attacks by external enemies. Proof that more than beloved sovereigns we are talking about hated tyrants. And like good tyrants they denied themselves nothing: walls with loopholes, grim towers, drawbridges and all kinds of fortifications.
Not only that: to be more certain they also built the so-called Scaliger bridge, built with red bricks typical of medieval Verona. It’s the right place for a few photos with the loopholes behind you and to remember a bit of history: 120 meters long, it was built to ensure an escape route from the city. It resisted for centuries: but then the Germans made it collapse during the Second World War and was rebuilt with the remains of the stones recovered in the Adige.
The ancient theater rediscovered
Scrolling through the Verona guide and talking about ancient stones, you can go towards another gift that comes from the distant past: the Roman theatreone of the oldest and which dates back to the first century BC It is located near the Adige, in the northern area near the St. Peter’s hill where the old Austrian barracks are located. For centuries the theater was a much admired marvel – it even housed 10,000 spectators – but then it fell into disuse until the 1800s when it was brought to light. Many exhibits are located in the near archaeological Museum which is located in the old monastery overlooking the theater.
Going in the opposite direction instead always following our guide of Verona, we head in the opposite direction, towards Piazza Bra, the beating heart of the city. On the southern side is the Great Guard, building dating back to the seventeenth century, which now hosts exhibitions and conferences and opposite Palazzo Barbieribuilt in the 19th century and now home to the Municipality of Verona. There is a lot to see, day and night. Don’t rush: clubs and bars animate the square.
His Majesty the Arena
Take a seat to watch the walk and have a good coffee before paying your respects to the other queen later Julietof the city: theArena. Built with stone Valpolicella, with shades of red and pink, and remodeled in the 16th century, theArena can now accommodate about 20,000 spectators thanks to its elliptical shape: it is the third largest Roman amphitheaterafter Colosseum and the Amphitheater of Capua.
During the empire it hosted gladiator fights to then open up to shows of all kinds: tournaments, jousts, ballets, circuses and prose performances. And even bullfights, which the emperor witnessed in 1805 Napoleon Bonaparte. But in 1913, on the centenary of Giuseppe Verdiit was decided to represent Aida, the most spectacular of Verdi’s works Thousands of spectators flocked to Verona from all over Italy and the world and attended the show Puccini, Mascagni, Pizzetti, Kafka. It never stopped and every 600,000 spectators come here in the summer. Music then covers the ancient stones. And maybe, too Juliethints at a dance step.