When you hear about Italy, you would probably be regaled with stories of prehistoric structures like the Colosseum in Rome or mammoth architectures like the duomo in Milan. Verona does not get the cut, most probably due to it being overshadowed by its more flamboyant siblings. That can’t be helped, though, for Verona certainly does not have impressive monuments. Instead, Verona is famous for being the inspiration for Shakespeare’s setting of the fictional tragedy Romeo and Juliet, causing millions of hopeless romantics everywhere to flock into the city to visit Juliet Capulet’s balcony. Apparently the Capulet family did exist – but did they have a rocking, dramatic feud with a rival family, causing the deaths of their firstborns? Nope, sorry. What’s a city to do? Capitalise on a fictional tragedy to raise tourist numbers, that’s what. We ain’t mad, though!
But soft! Verona, we found, is so much more than the hype. Sure the amount of “love” or “amour” and “Romeo et Giullieta” shop signs is enough make someone hurl, but the city does have the quintessential Northern Italian charm that seduces the typical wanderer. Imagine if Rome and Florence had a baby – that’s Verona in a nutshell. Verona even has a mini-Colosseum – a tour we eventually took which was done in over 10 minutes but it does provide a dazzling view of the whole city.
As you get lost in the many alleys and uphill streets of the city to find Juliet’s Balcony (might as well find it, right? You’re already there!), appreciate the little colourful cafes and quirky restaurants that litter the many piazzas. In November and December, you will be delighted by the many Christmas Markets in the city – selling from typical Christmas ornaments to humongous, calorie-ridden crepes and of course, gelato. You’ll be glad to know that Verona is not that provincial – they do have international brands like Zara, H&M, Mango etc. in the main streets. If you shop luxury, then stop that train right now and head back to Rome or Milan.
Take the time to sit down while you enjoy gorging your face in a pool of Nutella cannoli and you’ll realise that in Verona, the hordes of tourists are not irritating, shop owners are not demanding. Because Verona is just so damned pretty. You don’t even need a map. Or a full day. People need to get over Romeo and the bronzed statue of Juliet and appreciate Verona for what it really is: a misunderstood city thanks to popular culture.
How to get there: We took a train from Milano Centrale to Verona Porta Nuova Train Station. It took us a little over one and a half hours to reach Verona. We suggest taking the morning train and taking the 4pm or 5pm train for departure. Upon reaching the station, cross the road to a small bus stop where there will be multiple buses to take you to the city centre. By bus, 5-10 minutes. If you decide to walk (which we did when leaving), it will take 20-30 minutes.
Train Schedules/Booking: Trenitalia
For halal food, check out the many Turkish restaurants around the city! Options are available. Go here –> Doner Kebab @ Verona