We really struggled to get any sleep on our first night in Verona. It was incredibly hot and stuffy inside the van and despite having the windows open there was very little airflow. The sosta was great value and a really good location for the city but it didn’t have any electric or much space so we were crammed in to what was effectively a car park for the night. This meant that we couldn’t get the awning out or have the door open much, which proves for a slightly hectic morning when we are both having showers and getting ready whilst on top of one another inside the van at 40degree heat.
We left Harvey the sweatbox as soon as possible and took the leisurely 20min walk into the city center. Having read very little about Verona we were totally underprepared for it’s beauty and charm. Other than the balcony made famous from Romeo and Juliet I had no idea that Verona would have such wonderful architecture and heritage sites.
In comparison to Florence, Verona felt more laidback which we appreciated. The city was equally stunning and interesting, albeit smaller, but with less tour groups and hustle which made for a really enjoyable day. We wandered around the compact city without any fixed agenda, discovering hidden gems down back streets and narrow lanes. All the town houses had shutters over their windows and pretty balconies adorned with bright bougainvillea.
We stumbled across the Castelvecchio fortress which was built in the 1350s and walked across the bridge to get great views of the city. On the other side were some pretty public gardens. It was lovely to see families enjoying themselves in the water feature and locals making the most of their Sunday by getting outside.
We continued on to the amazing Roman amphitheater which was seemingly just plonked in the middle of a pretty piazza. Built of marble in 1st century AD, it’s still standing and holds up to 30,000 people. It’s the eighth biggest amphitheater in the Roman Empire and super impressive. It was currently the venue for the city’s annual summer opera festival and there were loads of props and set pieces outside.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Verona without a glimpse of the famous balcony where Juliet stood. As we approached the tiny square in which it was located we joined a throng of tourists all eager to get the same glimpse and photo of the 14th-century-style balcony and bronze statue. The square was rammed which dampened any notions of romance. The internal walls of the square were covered in a slew of love letters stuck with gum and sticky notes posted by tourists. This was pretty cool but also insanely unhygienic.
We stopped for lunch in the bustling Piazza Della Erbe and Gary had a quick refreshment….
We walked off our pizza by crossing the river Adige at the northern end of town and hiking up to a view point. There was a cable car to do the hard work for you but the scenic route was by foot and who doesn’t like to sweat their way up hundreds of steps in the 40 degree heat?
Thankfully the stunning views from the top made the effort worth while.
We slowly walked back down and casually made our way back to Harvey, popping into shops (mostly to get a blast of air con) and stopping to take pictures. It felt great to be able to wander and not set ourselves goals of seeing every single church or piece of noteworthy architecture and we clocked up over 15,000 steps. We had a well earned cold shower when we got back and started planning Venice!