With hangover in tow, we boarded the bus to head to Lake Maggiore, which is located near the border of Italy and Switzerland. On the way, we stopped in the city of Verona, most famous for being the setting of probably the best known love story in history, Romeo and Juliet. It was a rainy day which wasn’t so bad as we were to spend most of it on the bus, and thankfully it held off for most of the time we were in Verona.
When we first arrived, we had an hour or so to ourselves to grab some lunch. It was here that I had my first pizza in Italy. I took the simple option and just grabbed something with cheese and nothing else on it, but it was delicious. The base was fluffy on the inside and crisp around the edges. Just what I was needing on a cold and rainy day. After lunch, we took a short walking tour of the city and saw some of the main attractions. It was in Verona that I learnt that the Colosseum in Rome is not the only amphitheatre the Romans built (although why I didn’t know that earlier is beyond me). Verona is home to the Verona Arena and is quite famous for the opera performances which are held there. It is the world’s third largest amphitheatre surviving from Roman times and considering it was built in 30AD (or thereabouts) it’s in pretty good nick – much more complete that the Colosseum but not quite as large.
We also stopped in to see Juliet’s balcony – the actual balcony of the actual Juliet (allegedly anyway). In the small courtyard of the house purportedly belonging to the Capulet’s, is a bronze statue of Juliet. The right breast of the statue has been worn smooth, as according to legend, if you place your hand over the right breast you will have good fortune. I thought I was pretty fortunate to be in Italy, so I didn’t think I needed any more good fortune, but it was interesting to see other people do it – particularly when they obviously felt a bit awkward touching the breast of a statue in front of a bunch of strangers. I also saw the irony in receiving good fortune from a statue of a person who certainly didn’t have very good fortune – but it’s nice for people to believe in things. On the way in to the courtyard, is a small tunnel on the walls of which people have written their names and that of the person they love, as it is believed it will make your love everlasting. It was definitely one of the nicer forms of graffiti I’ve ever seen.
Following this, we wandered through the streets looking at the modern brand names in their old buildings and were given a short lesson on the history of the city (which naturally I can’t find my notes of!). It really was a lovely city – despite my hangover – and was a lot less busy than some of the other places we visited. I think if I were to go back to Italy, I would definitely come back to Verona and stay overnight. There was a lot more to see that we didn’t get a chance to and it seemed like a good place to relax between the busyness of other destinations. But it was back to the bus for our group, and on towards Lake Maggiore and the first snow of the season.