Verona, Italy: A wonderful place to, “Sit by my side, and let the world slip, we shall ne’er be younger.” 

6 Apr

Three of his plays, ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’ and ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, are set in Verona, yet it’s highly unlikely William Shakespeare ever visited the city. That’s a great loss for Will as Verona is a gorgeous city peopled by a quarter of a million easy-going, kindly folk who treat travellers well.


Far from being peeved that an Englishman pinched his plot from an Italian romantic tale (first recorded as a poem in ‘The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet’, by Arthur Brooke in 1562 and then in prose in the ‘Palace of Pleasure’, by William Painter in 1567) the Veronese have embraced the bard. We saw two busts of him next to his quotes on two different streets.

Yes, there are rather too many tourists only interested in taking a selfie at the faux Juliet’s house and her mocked up tomb, or placing their love locks on Ponte di Pietra, but it’s easy to overlook them with the many other delights this walkable UNESCO World Heritage city offers.


Archaeologically it’s fascinating: ancient built architecture including a first century AD amphitheatre called the Arena (have a look at my photo of an engineer testing the mortar of the walls from a cherry picker), 1st and 2nd century intricately carved marble arches, Renaissance palaces, a 14th century castle and sumptuous 12th and 13th century churches and cathedral. Residents and city council alike are to be commended for the good job they’re doing, there is minimal graffiti, streets are clean and buildings are in good repair.

Above is a shot of two workers cleaning illegal posters off the marble walls of a pharmacy. Bravo!

 















We stayed five nights in a comfortable, ultra-modern serviced apartment (number 6) inside a 1,450 year-old edifice on Vicolo Santa Maria In Organo. Mathia, who owns and manages three short-stay apartments, lives in the building with his parents and was available whenever we had questions. If booking.com had the option of awarding 11 out of ten he would have earned it. We tried to go to all the restaurants, bars and other local places he recommended and every one was exceptional.


Window shopping is also excellent. Strolling along pink Veronese marble footpaths polished by the tread of millions of feet past store after store of beautiful clothes, shoes, hats and jewelry is a feast for the eyes. I admit to buying two new pairs of spring/summer trousers. After three months wearing the same clothes we get a little bored looking at the same outfits.The crochet window display above is for you Mum! 

I had also run out of organic skincare products so was pleased to find L’Erboristeria Artigiana, a shop in our neighbourhood that stocks very affordable herbal products made on the premises by the proprietor, Sr Luciano Posani.


And once again (the last time I promise Dad) I posted some of my ski gear back to my parents. Dealing with Post Italiene was an interesting cultural experience. Not difficult, just different. The postal worker I dealt with started out rather gruff, but by the end of the process he was charming. When words fail me I use Spanish apologetically and somehow it works. Over the years I’ve successfully posted items home from France, Spain and now (hopefully) Italy.

We concluded our stay with a cocktail and mocktail (I’m still off alcohol) in the piano bar of Verona’s top hotel, the very sophisticated Due Torre Hotel in Piazza Santa Anastasia, followed by a last delicious vegan pizza at Impero.Due Torre Hotel above and Impero below.

 Our only regret is that we weren’t able to see an opera in the Arena. The 2017 season runs from 23/7 to 15/8. We went to the Opera Museum and the Toulouse Lautrec temporary exhibition housed in a palazzo but there’s nothing like the spectacle of open air opera.Should you wish to visit Verona we highly recommend the following:

 

Residence Il Vicolo by Mathia Santoni

Vicolo Santa Maria In Organo 9

http://www.residenceilvicolo.com

info@residenceilvicolo.com

Tel: +39 0458007971

L’Erboristeria Artigiana

Via S.Paolo 26

Verona 37129

http://www.iltuoerborista.it

Tel: +39 045594953

 

Trattoria Pero D’Oro

Via Ponte Pignolo

Bar La Terrazza Al Ponte

Via Ponte Di Pietra

(On the downstream city side of the Roman bridge)

Ideal for an aperitif

 

Bar Gnam Gnam

Corner of Dell’Acqua Morta and Piazetta Santa Maria in Organo

Best spot for breakfast/tea/coffee

Impero Pizzeria and Restaurant

Piazza Viviani

 

Arena Di Verona (95th) 2017 Opera Festival

http://www.arena.it

Tel: +34 0458005151

 

 

I leave you with the first literary quote I memorised as a kid, as pertinent today as it was when the play was first published in 1597.

 

“What’s in a name?

 

That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet.”

 

 (‘Romeo and Juliet’ 2.2.43-44)

 

Oh, and the line in the title is from ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, my favourite of the three Veronese plays.

 

Tomorrow we fly Verona-Gatwick-Newquay for a family reunion in Rock, Cornwall. We last saw the UK family all together at our niece’s wedding last September so there’s lots to catch up on. Thanks for reading, arrivaderci!

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