Just when the UK was enjoying the heat from an unusually sunny bank holiday weekend, we thought it was the right time to hop on a plane to go to Italy in seek of even hotter climes.
However, as sods law would have it we landed on a blisteringly hot day and then endured the wrath of the rain Gods on the days subsequent.
Luckily it wasn’t a beach vacation, so it didn’t really dampen our holiday mood all that much.
How can it when Italy is all about the food and wine anyway? 😉
So if you’re heading to Verona here are my top 5 things you need to do whether rain or shine.
1. Casa di Giulietta
Otherwise known as the house of Juliet, this is an example of how much media can work in the favour of tourism.
We all know of the story of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, so it is only fitting that somewhere in Verona there is a house where Juliet once lived. A house with the much famed balcony attached.
Enter Casa di Giulietta.
Add to that, the fact this 14th century house was once owned by the Cappello family (very similar to Capulet of course) and you can see why this building has become the pilgrimage place for all those eager to find love or find answers to love related problems (there are a lot of letters attached to the walls that are in desperate need of answering), irrelevant of whether or not Juliet ever actually existed.
It’s free to go into and see, although if you want to go out onto the balcony you do have to pay to enter the house which is quite large and houses a few interesting things from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Before leaving, make sure to give Juliet’s shiny breast a good old rub (facing her it’s the left side, but on her it’s the right breast- so I say shiny because you can’t fail but notice the rubbed shiny breast from a lot of groping). It’s supposed to bring you good luck in love.
It is gimmicky, but it’s fun. It’s Verona after all.. the city of the tale of two star crossed lovers.
2. Food and Drink
Verona has some spectacular places to eat. And washing it all down with the local Soave is the only way to feast. The prices of the restaurants do vary depending on the quality of the chefs.
Unlike most cities I found that the location of the restaurant didn’t matter. So you can happily sit near some of the best sites and monuments and not pay over the odds for the pleasure (Venice take note).
One of our favourite restaurants was Trattoria I Masenini. With seating looking out onto a square and across the road from Castelvecchio it was a great location not far from where we were staying.
The food was on the expensive side, but for good reason- it’s Michelin recognised. For the perfect dish head make sure you stop by.
For a better priced option with amazing views I have to say Terrazzo Bar Al Ponte is the place to go.
The bonus of the weather being temperamental was that no one was sat on the outdoor terrace at all, even though the temperature was moderate.
So we had the outdoor space to ourselves, which had the most spectacular river views.
The food was tasty but not out of this world, but that didn’t matter. The view and price made it a great find. We avoided the rain for a while and gorged on a feast.
While in Verona it’s also essential to make sure you sit down outside in one of the famous squares to enjoy an aperol spritz.
This orange drink is commonly served around this Northern part of Italy, so drink it served by the experts. Sit where you like, the prices are pretty consistent throughout the city and they all taste pretty damn good, plus they put a little snack of sorts on the table too which doesn’t cost any extra! 😉
3. The Arena
Older than the Colosseum and built in the 1st century is this colossal building.
It’s still used today for Opera during the summer months, and I can imagine it being a magical setting to see a performance- although don’t underestimate how high and steep the steps get towards the top of the arena. Vertigo saw me clinging to the railings.
Structurally it’s still very much in tact, you can walk inside the arena walls just as the gladiators and lions would have done before walking out into the stadium.
If you visit on the first Sunday of the month, tickets only cost €1.00. We didn’t know this and just got lucky!
4. Ice cream
Yes, I could include this under food and drink. But personally I think the place I’m going to tell you of needs a heading all to itself!
Gelateria La Romana is the place to get gelato. There will be queues outside the door up until closing time. The only time it’s slightly quiet is if you get there first thing (gelato crepe anyone?).
But it doesn’t matter whether there’s a queue or not, you have to make sure you get some gelato. Not only are the flavours the absolute nuts, but they also have running warm white chocolate and milk chocolate that they can put in the bottom of your cone before adding the scoops of gelato on top.
All at very reasonable prices.
This is where the locals buy gelato, and this is where you should buy gelato!
5. Giardino Giusti
These beautiful Italian gardens are a wonderful to spend an afternoon. We were able to take in the beauty while Little London ran off some steam.
They were designed in the 16th century and belonged to the Giusti family.
With little hedge mazes we spent literally hours running after our son, before we were both tired out and he collared some unsuspecting lady to chase him instead.
Theres a tower called the Belvedere tower you can walk up which opens up to another little garden at the top, with spectacular views of Verona.
It’s just a lovely place for some chilled out, relaxing time in the middle of the city.
I hope these points have given you some inspiration. Here are some more pictures from our trip to further whet your appetite for Verona.