…where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. – Romeo & Juliet
One of my favorite things about Europe is the public transportation. Not only is it efficient in each major city, but throughout most of the countries.
I took advantage of the Italian train system on tuesday and took a trip to the city of Verona. Used as the backdrop for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, I found the city to be one of the least modern cities I’ve seen in Italy. Of course there are stores like Foot Locker, The Disney Store, and Louis Vuitton, but the buildings that house these modern stores take visitors back several hundred years.
Me down by the river
I got a ride down to Milan from Como with Dario, and from there it took about 2 hours on the regional train to get to Verona and cost €9. There is a faster EuroCity train that only takes 1.5 hours, but the ticket for that train was double!
Porta Nuova - The main entrance into the city
There was a tourist info office at the train station so I got my free map and once I figured out what direction I was supposed to go in, I headed into the city. It took about 20 minutes to get to the Piazza Bra’ (the main piazza in the center of the city).
Entrance into the Piazza Bra'
From there it was about another 10 minutes to my first stop: Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s House). The dell Capello family owned the home after it was built in the 13th century and it’s believed that they were the inspiration for the “Capulet” family in the play. Who knows if any of it is true, but in 1930 the home was restored and that is when the balcony was added.
Juliet's balcony (circa 1930)
The bronze Juliet
As I walked toward the house, the first thing I saw was the courtyard with the balcony and a bronze statue of “Juliet”. About every 5 seconds someone is cupping her left breast for luck (or something) so it’s a little crazy trying to get a photo with it. I decided to go straight for the house and see about getting up on the balcony. The fee to enter the house was €6, or for €10 I could buy a 1-day Verona Card and gain entrance to other sites as well. I opted for the later since I was planning on making a stop by the Arena.
If you plan on visiting Verona, I highly recommend getting this card. You can buy it at any of the sites it’s good for, and there is also a 3-day card for €15. For more info, visit their website.
View of the balcony from inside
So I got my Verona card and headed up the stairs.
Now, I know the balcony wasn’t there when the dell Capello family lived in the house, and who knows how much of the original story is true, but there’s something very exciting about seeing that balcony from inside the house. I think the only other thing I can compare it to is seeing the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany which Walt Disney based Cinderella’s castle on.
Of course, then you look down and see all the tourists taking photos and grabbing Juliet’s boob and the moment passes.
Me standing on the balcony! Fun moment in life 🙂
I continued to explore the house, which is pretty bare but does contain some artifacts (tables, chairs, artwork) from the 16th and 17th century.
Inside dell Capello house
Romeo's House? Maybe...
From there, I went looking for Romeo’s house – yes, there is a Casa di Romeo – and after searching for 10 minutes I found it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open and the door wasn’t fascinating enough to take a photo of. Here’s a photo I found on-line. It was a total disappointment, and who knows who actually lived there (some say it was the Montecchi family, others say it was owned by someone else). If you are ever in Verona, skip this.
On the plus side, this out of the way excursion helped my find my lunch spot! I decided to eat at Osteria Sottoriva after I saw the menu was handwritten and they had outdoor seating. I decided to have a sort of ratatouille of peppers, onions, and eggplant. It came with bread and they had their own local Extra Virgin Olive Oil that was amazing! I also got a little glass of wine that only cost €0.80.
After lunch I headed to the Arena. Built in the first century AD, the Arena di Verona still holds concerts and operas every summer. The Arena is one of the best-conserved Roman amphitheatres and can hold 15,000 people. Luckily, the Arena was included in my Verona Card so I didn’t have to pay any more to get in. The Arena is a beautiful building and worth seeing, however I would have much rather attended a concert or opera performance there. Next time.
Inside the Arena
From here my day was done. I headed back to the train station to catch the cheaper regional train back to Milan (again, €9 instead of €18). It was definitely a great day in the fair Verona.
PS – I just jumped forward like 3 weeks, so I’ll definitely be going back to catch up on the rest of this Italy trip.