Side Trip: Verona in a Flash

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I THOUGHT I WAS RACING THROUGH EUROPE until I met a young California couple in Milan’s central train station, consulting their Eurail map. They are doing nine countries in three weeks. By that standard, my trip — three countries in four weeks — is leisurely. Yet my three-and-a-half hours in Verona, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its medieval architecture, was ridiculously inadequate.

I had braved the Metro for the first time, taking it four stops from the Duomo station near my hotel to Milano Centrale, and found it very civilized. Not crowded, well-marked, 1.5 euro/ride. My intention was to take an 11:35 train to Verona, but I needed a reservation. I took a number (#741) and waited to be called to one of a dozen windows. They were up to #687 when I got there about 10:45, and the line wasn’t moving fast. At 11:38 I had my reservations — on the 12:05 to Verona, with a return to Milan later (but not late enough) the same day.

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When I got off at Verona after an hour-and-a-half in first-class comfort, I couldn’t spot a tourist information stand or a billboard with a map on it or anything. So I approached a limo driver who was holding a placard outside the station. “Scusi, signore, dove il centro?”  I think I fooled him with my perfect accent. He gave me some rapid-fire directions accompanied, fortunately, by clear hand gestures. After 10 minutes of walking along a busy boulevard, I came to an arched gate, above, clearly the place where the old city began. And just beyond it, yet another Roman arena, huge and so intact it’s used for a summer opera festival. (At this point, I’m blasé about Roman arenas.)

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Verona is a very pretty town,  After an earthquake in the 12th century, the city was rebuilt in Romanesque style. Much of that, especially church architecture, remains. The pink and yellow buildings, with peaked windows, turrets, towers, and balconies, reminded me somewhat of Venice, less than two hours away.

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I joined the throngs of visitors dodging each other’s cameras. With limited time and zero advance prep, all I could do was walk, and look, and eat.

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I had lunch outdoors in Piazza Erbe, below — a cold seafood salad followed by the best spinach tortellini in memory.

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Then I retraced my steps, more or less, to the station, and tore myself away from Verona, having had no more than the merest glimpse of a potentially enthralling place.

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About cara

I blog for fun here at casaCARA, and write about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites. My recently published posts and articles can be found here: https://casacara.wordpress.com/recent-articles/
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8 Responses to Side Trip: Verona in a Flash

  1. Astor C says:

    Looks a little like Siena with the colorful buildings around the plaza. Amazing how effortlessly stylish the Italians are…

  2. Stacie Sinder says:

    The phrase “fair Verona” came to mind so I googled it and see that it’s in the opening lines of Romeo and Juliet … but you made no mention of that in your post? No commercialization of R&J: souvenir trinkets, aprons, t-shirts and such? From your photos it looks remarkably authentic and unspoiled — another beautiful Italian city …

  3. cara says:

    TONS of R&J crap. Juliet’s supposed house is in Verona (though there’s no historical connection, apparently; it’s just a house with a picturesque balcony). One of my guidebooks described it as a crass tourist scene, where people go to touch the breast of a bronze Juliet statue in hopes of finding love. I saw signs pointing the way to it, and purposely walked the other way!

  4. Julia Mack says:

    I, too, love Verona. The small scale makes it so easy to navigate and so easy to enjoy — inspiring to honeymooners and to Shakespeare alike.

  5. literarybrooklyn says:

    LOL about the “R&J crap.” I wrote my dissertation on Shakespeare. The play that came to my mind is Two Gentlemen of Verona. Be that as it may, what a lovely side trip. As always, your photos are just wonderful, especially of the food. Really enjoying this trip with you as I shiver in my winter coat still or remain warm but chained to my desk!

  6. cara says:

    Thanks for the compliments, lit. And I’m really enjoying your comments :-)

  7. sagittalcrest says:

    I’ll be in Verona next month and your post has heightened my excitement! What was the name of the restaurant in which you had the spinach tortellini? Thanks!

  8. cara says:

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187871-d2392205-Reviews-Caffe_Brasserie_Filippini-Verona_Province_of_Verona_Veneto.html
    See above, Sag. I agree with the folks who said it was just average (except I really liked the spinach tortellini!) There are a lot of cafés on the same piazza and they all seem to have the same menu. I think the attraction there is the setting more than the food. Anyway, it’s all wonderful. Have a fantastic time and carve out more than the three or four hours I did for Verona.

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