During my long, but definitely not long enough stay in Verona I’ve seen colorful roofs, creative street artists and the insides of several wine bars. But I also did something else. I went against all my natural instincts, bought a travel guide (that I didn’t read) and went strategically sightseeing – a place or two a day, photo camera and visitor from the north as my companions. And let me tell you: There’s more to Verona than just Romeo & Juliet.
A little tour through some of Verona’s sights – starting from up high.
La Torre dei Lamberti (The Lamberti Tower) with its about 84 meters and 368 steps is the highest tower of Verona.
In the medieval times the bells in the tower had different functions. The smallest bell was called “Marangona”, it indicated fire and marked the hours. The biggest one, which you can see on the photo below, was called “Rengo” and was used to gather the Town Council and call the citizens to their weapons in case the city had to be defended.
Even though the highest, the Lamberti tower is not the only place from which you can see the city from above. Castel San Pietro was once a military building and is located on the hill San Pietro, connected to Teatro Romano (The Roman Theatre).
While it was not possible to enter the castle, sitting up there, looking over the river most definitely makes you feel like the queen of the world – or at least Verona.
Castel San Pietro is not the most known castle in Verona though. This one, Castelvecchio, is. The Scaligeri (Scaliger), a noble family and lords of Verona, moved to this castle to be able to defend the city against intruders, as this was not possible from their former power base in the center of the city (Piazza dei Signori). Today the castle is a museum that holds temporary art exhibitions like this one by Igor Mitoraj.
Enough castles and towers! Time for some entertainment.
When going to Verona you cannot miss the arena. And you absolutely shouldn’t miss seeing it from the inside and watching a show. Atmosphere, sound and scenery are priceless and the experience as well as the photos go without many words.
After the four-hour opera by Giuseppe Verdi we went to see the classical ballet in the roman theatre. Even though the opera had been lovely, we were relived to hear that the ballet would only last 1,5 hours. Seeing the ballerinas dance the fairytale Cenerentola (Cinderella), without a single word being spoken, was heartbreakingly beautiful and surprisingly funny at the same time.
A Photo-Tour Through Verona’s 4 Big Churches
For some time in Verona I had a catholic travel companion. A friend from Denmark decided to join me for some days and so we took off to see four of Verona’s most known churches. As I don’t see the inside of a church very often, she patiently explained me the meaning of the different paintings, symbols and traditions. Walking from church to church, I was fascinated by how diverse they all were from one another and tried to capture colors, patterns and figures on the photos below.
The Romanesque basilica, Basilica di San Zeno, is characterized by its warm colors and the way the sun lights up every part of the church differently through the variously shaped windows.
What stands out about this church is the Romanesque facade. We were most impressed, however, by the carved and gold plated organ and the beautiful columns of the Duomo.
La Chiesa di San Fermo consists of two churches. The upper gothic church with a wooden ceiling in the shape of the bottom of a ship and the lower church which has preserved its original Romanesque structure.
A gothic church located between Ponte Pietra and Piazza Erbe. Basilica di Santa Anastasia turned out to be our personal favorite. Very light, beautiful colors and fascinating details (notice windows on picture 3).
Verona’s tales and love stories
When walking from Piazza Erbe toward Piazza dei Signori you’ll walk beneath a whale’s rib. The first few people I asked couldn’t really give me an answer when I asked them why it was hanging there. But after a couple of weeks in Verona someone told me that while it was probably just a sign of wealth there is a tale behind it: It says the rib will fall down the moment an honest man passes beneath it. But since everyone has told a little white lie at some point, the whale’s rib will stay right there between the piazzas forever.
The tale of Romeo and Juliet takes place in Verona. It is said, however, that Shakespeare has never been to Verona in his life and that the balcony therefore is not actually Juliet’s balcony. Some even say, that the balcony itself isn’t a real balcony, but a tomb. Still Romeo and Juliet are the first thing that come to mind when talking about Verona. Much to the discontentment of the Veronese who know that, even though it is a beautiful story, there’s a lot more to their city.
Aside from the balcony and the house of Juliet, it is also possible to visit her tomb. Although some people say, that what you can visit in Verona is not a real tomb, but a container of stone that was once used to feed the horses.
This quote from Shakespeare’s drama is written in stone at the entrance of the burial spot.
But before getting to Shakespeare’s quote, you pass by this: A statue of what is known as the asian version of Romeo & Juliet.
There’s another love story in Verona, one that is said to have actually happened here and its symbol is the well of love (Pozzo dell’Amore).
Unfortunately the well has been closed the entire time I was in Verona, the love story is supposed to be written on the bottom of the well. There are many locks attached to the well, a symbol of “locking our hearts together” and hundreds of names and sweet sentences are written on the stone and the lid of the well even though it’s much less known than Juliet’s balcony as Verona’s symbol of love.
I found this one amusing: “You looked cuter on Facebook”
The way I see it, Verona is full of love. Whether the stories are true or just tales that have been told too many times, there’s a certain atmosphere when walking the streets of Verona that just makes you want to believe them all and write some yourself.
At the end of our trip, we too made sure to eternalize our love stories on the well of amore.