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Falling in love with Verona

The next city that I visited on my trip around Italy with my friends was Verona. Without doubt this was the place that made us feel the most excited. Because it's famous, because it's romantic, because it's full of adorable souvenirs, because it has many hidden secrets, because it has endless sites to be visited. It's the city where the plot of the tragic love story Romeo and Juliet unfolds, written by playwright, poet and actor William Shakespeare.

Arrival and first impressions

That day we had to wake up at 6am, eat a quick breakfast and grab the bags we'd packed the day before. We set off for the train station in Modena, we caught a Tren Italia train to Verona. This city is in the Veneto region which was a little bit far away, we all slept on the way there and back. After several hours we arrived at the Verona Porta Nuova station, named thus being located next to Porta Nuova. Before leaving the station we went to the bathroom, to enter you had to pay and it wasn't very clean, it would've been better if we used the loo on the train. At the time, nothing seemed very romantic.

Immediately after leaving the station, the first thing you see is a church in the middle of nowhere, Parrochia Cuore Immacolato di Maria, this is due to the fact that this area is outside the limits of the old city. The facade of this church is hideous, when you see it don't get discouraged, continue walking in the opposite direction. The station is separated from Porta Nuova by some park lands, these correspond to with the place that used to be occupied by medieval Verona's city walls, which had glacises, stone slopes which are still preserved and around which those parks were built.

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Discovering medieval Verona

Once we had crossed Porta Nuova, which in its time formed part of the medieval walls, we found a large avenue, Corso Porta Nuova, we sat in a small terrace to have some orange juice, others had coffee and some accompanied it with a croissant. Whilst we were sat down we noticed that it was starting to get cloudy. Every day we'd had a wonderful time, it would have been very sad if it was all ruined in Verona. But suddenly it improved even though if there was a bit of drizzle.

After walking to the end of the avenue we reached Piazza Brà, where the Arena of Verona was located, the old Roman amphitheatre, very well maintained thanks to the fortification of the city and the dedication of many experts who have managed to care for it. We didn't go in, our friend explained to us that sometimes they have shows inside. For me it was enough to see the exterior, I don't think I had ever seem some so old and so complete. Verona's Town Hall was also in this square, a very beautiful building given that it's an old palace.

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Having taken in the sights of this incredible square, we went to the streets of Verona, despite being the middle of the week there were many people, which may have been a bit annoying. There was a lot of hustle and bustle, evidently the history of the iconic city attracted a lot of tourists. We arrived at Piazza Erbe, located in the area of the old Roman forum. Within there was a market formed of a lot of souvenir stalls, the majority relating to Romeo and Juliet, there was also a fountain.

In my opinion the most beautiful thing about this square is the buildings, one observes that they are old but well preserved, those from the Roman era were being replaced with medieval buildings. Some are Baroque style and are richly adorned with statues of Greek gods. Even the more higher up frescos were looked after, there's one painted totally in red and it makes the square look very colourful. There's also a fountain and an entry arch to the square. There are also other monuments such as a decorated column.

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Next to it is the Piazza dei Signori, a bit more quiet than the previous. Around these squares are several palaces. However, the most famous is Juliet's balcony. We ventured towards Via Cappello, which is between some buildings attached to the Teatro Nuovo de Verona. Upon entering one has to pass through a type of tunnel, of which the walls are dedicated with hundreds of signatures and declarations of love. The patio where one finds the supposed balcony from where Juliet appeared was crowded with people when we entered. You can access the house and even climb up and appear on the balcony. Downstairs in the patio there's a statue of Juliet with which people take photos. There's also a little souvenir shop of love for the more romantic travellers. Truthfully it's a bit stifling in the area below.

If you're going to visit this place I recommend going to the floor above the souvenir shop. There's you'll find a window at the same height as the balcony, where you can appear and see a lot better, you'll even be alone as no one who enters the shop goes up there.

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Under Juliet's balcony. Romeo enters without being seen in the palace of the Capulets. Juliet appears above at a window.

Romeo:

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?

It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,

Who is already sick and pale with grief,

That thou her maid art far more fair than she:

Be not her maid, since she is envious [... ]

Juliet:

Ay me!

Romeo:

She speaks:

O, speak again, bright angel! for thou art

As glorious to this night, being o'er my head

As is a winged messenger of heaven

Unto the white-upturned wondering eyes

Of mortals that fall back to gaze on him

When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds

And sails upon the bosom of the air.

Juliet:

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?

Deny thy father and refuse thy name;

Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,

And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

Source

Having finished our visit to Juliet's balcony, we carried on walking the streets through which strolled the Capulets and Montagues in Shakespeare's play. We passed by a fountain that, according to our friend, who had already visited Verona with her boyfriend, that after one drinks its waters, they will will find true love. Although it must be a myth for tourists. We went to see the Borsari Gate which is white and has two arches, it was another of the entrances to the city. From there we went up the Corso Cavour, parallel to the Adigio river, which flows through the city. We saw the Arco dei Gavi, which was used as an entrance to the city in its day. Together with it we saw a big castle.

Castelvecchio

From where we were we could see four of its towers, one with a beautiful clock. They belonged to Castelvecchio, which means "old castle" in English. The entry is through the central tower, it has a large door with chains which in its day used to be a drawbridge. It has a very medieval look, and like many of this city's other monuments, it's very well maintained. You can see the lower part has strong and durable stones, and over these, bricks of darker shades which were used to build that part of the castle. We walked over the drawbridge and entered through the tunnel that crosses the tower. Immediately we found ourselves in a patio with beautiful interior facades, that didn't look at all medieval, it was much more elegant, much more regal. There were some lovely windows that kind of resembled Arabic architecture, in addition a large area of this patio was taken up by a big garden. To the right was there's the castle's museum. To the left there are some steps that goes to another area outside the patio.

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These steps lead to the Ponte Scaligero, located on the back on the castle. It's called this because it ascends, climbing towards the towers, after which is the Ponte di Castelvecchio. Its medieval style is also preserved, there are many people taking photos from it and also photographing Verona and its bridges. Above all, people stop a lot on the two stretches of the bridge where it gets wider in two fortified areas that served to defend the city back in the day. There you can climb up and look at the city from the battlements. The views are gorgeous but it's not suitable for those who suffer from vertigo. A musician has placed himself just to the side and was playing the harmonica, whilst many of us got out our cameras and took many photos.

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Some of the girls in our group walked on to the other bank, they had already crossed the Adigio river, I and two friends continued messing around on the bridge. Due to the bridge's battlements, from below you can't see the outside, so we didn't know where they had gone. We called their names but they didn't answer, until it occurred to us to look further down, on the same river. There they were, on a piece of land/pebbles that were left on the river bank as there was little water in the river itself. From there was a perfect view of the whole castle and the bridge, so we decided to sit and eat there. We were even joined by some ducks!

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Return

As it started to get very sunny, we climbed the stairs that took us to the river and we went to an shadier area with some trees. Later we went to the Sandra Handle Museum located just to the side, the building was also equipped for theatre performances. It's a very pretty building, it has a little of everything that one can see in Verona, castle-style and reddish colours, accompanied by windows with semicircular arches.

It was time to leave and we returned to the station via another route to see a little more of the city. Finally we arrived at the park lands where the medieval walls were in the old days. We saw the Parrochia Cuore Immacolato di Maria from the side and now it didn't look so dreadful, now it seemed more interesting. We caught the train, it was now getting late and, we were exhausted, but very enchanted by Verona.

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