24 Hours In Verona

Here I am, back on the FrecciaRossa. Destination, Venice! It’s eight in the morning, the guard just checked our tickets, Luca is now asleep in the seat opposite me, he makes me laugh, he can seriously fall asleep in seconds anywhere! I’m the complete opposite and right now I’m wide awake and excited for the day’s events.

Backtrack 24 hours and this was pretty much us as we made our way from Milan to Verona. Luca asleep and me full of excitement. Our journey to Verona started early. Five in the morning early. We caught a train from Arona to Milan, followed by another train from Milan to Verona. A total travel time of 2.5 hours.

You’d think by the time we arrived in Verona our grumbling stomachs would have taken us to a nice cafe. Well, out of all the places we could have eaten you’ll never guess where we ended up… McDonald’s! To be fair, we were starving, it was right near the station and Luca wanted me to try a breakfast toasty they only do in Europe. OK, so I tried the toasty and do I recommend it? Absolutely not! It was disgusting, just a whole lot of fake plastic cheese. Luca however eats basically everything and quite enjoyed it. Next time though, I’m holding out for a proper cafe.

Sitting outside in the courtyard of McDonald’s was actually really nice. We had a great view of the Porta Bra and I enjoyed doing a little people watching. Well, that was until Luca headed inside for a quick bathroom break. Within seconds of him leaving I was approached by three guys, one who I could clearly see was eyeing Luca’s camera. My travel instincts immediately kicked in and I quickly picked up the camera from our table and held onto it. With a map of Verona laid out in front of me, it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t a local. Wanting out of the situation, I closed the map and began to stand up. The guy eyeing the camera interrupts my getaway by asking if I need any help. I politely respond “No thank you, I’m fine.” The way the guys are positioned they’re blocking me in, and I know I’ll have to push past them to get out.

With his eyes still locked on the camera, he responds “but you have a map, so you need help.” I’m offended that just because I have a map he thinks I need help, but also because he doesn’t actually want to help, he just wants the camera in my hand. I can see him assessing the situation, probably thinking of the easiest way to get the camera and run, so I follow my instincts and respond “no, I’m fine, my boyfriend is Italian and he’s just over there,” as I point towards the door. Luckily, at that exact time Luca was heading towards our table and after a brief hesitation from the guys, probably trying to asses if I was telling the truth, they decided to quickly move on. I hate that I had to mention ‘boyfriend’ and that he was ‘Italian’, I wish I could have handled the situation on my own, but I could tell that without the presence of Luca, they wouldn’t have left so easily. It’s a shame to say, but female solo travellers can often be an easy target for theft, etc. Eight years of karate, I’d like to think I could handle myself in a situation but I shouldn’t have been subjected to it in the first place.

Not allowing that incident to affect our day, I put it behind me and was ready to start exploring. First up, was Piazza Bra and one of Verona’s famous landmarks, Arena di Verona. Reminding me of the Colosseum in Rome, it was big, beautiful and full of history. A roman amphitheater built in the first century, accommodating around 30,000 people back then and it’s still in use today. It was an incredible feeling to be in the presence of such architecture.

Verona, being the city of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, it’s not hard to guess where our next stop was. Yes, that’s correct, Casa di Giulietta, or more commonly known as, House of Juliet. The crowds of people that flock to to get a glimpse of ‘Juliet’s Balcony’ on a daily basis is insane. I’ve never seen so many people packed into such a small courtyard. Not wanting to suffocate amongst the tourists, we got a few pictures and quickly moved on. What I found strange though was the wall right near Juliet’s balcony. This is the wall where people from all over the world leave love notes and message like ‘Chantelle was here 2017’. As sweet as it was, the notes were all written on band aids. Clean band aids I’m sure but I found it slightly odd and kind of gross.

As we walked the streets, the locals hardly seemed to notice the breathtaking beauty that surrounded them. From the marbled walkways to the apartments covered wisteria, even the ancient Roman Gate wasn’t acknowledged as many passed under it on their way to work and school. I however, was in awe and took in every little detail I could. I even took notice of a woman walking by us in the most exquisite pair of Valentino heels. Completely out of my price range but hey, a girl can dream.

Verona is such a beautiful city and with the sun on our skin as we made our way along the river to Castelvecchio, we couldn’t have been happier. The red brick walls of the bridge were incredible to see up close, and if you’re not afraid of heights, the view from the top is amazing. Luca got a bit of a battle wound here, scratched his knee up and was bleeding quite a bit. All to get that perfect shot. So the next stop for us was actually a pharmacy where we bought some highly overpriced band aids. It’s a shame we weren’t closer to the Juliet wall or we could have used some of those. Just kidding, that wall was gross!

The best view of the city is from the top of Piazzale Castel San Pietro. An easy walk from the city center, we planned our day so we would arrive around sunset. When we reached the top we immediately knew others had had the same idea, with couples and groups of friends already situated along the viewpoints ledge. We were lucky, we managed to secure what was probably the last decent space, completely unobstructed by trees. We ended up sitting there for a good 30 minutes just relaxing and watching the sun set over the city. It was incredible.

We had plans to see the Roman Theatre but by the time we reached it after watching the sunset, it was closed. So we headed off to dinner. Before coming to Verona I had researched places to eat and it was brought to my attention that a common meat eaten in Verona was horse. Now some people are fine with that, but for me, I was making sure that what ended up on my plate was 100% beef. I did this by learning the Italian word for horse. If cavallo appeared on my menu, then that was a dish I was definitely going to avoid.

We dined at a cute little place called Alcova del Frate and every single dish was perfection. Reasonably priced, great atmosphere, friendly and prompt staff, we honestly couldn’t have asked for more.

After a full day of exploring and our bellies full of delicious Italian cuisine, we were ready to head back to our accommodation. One thing I love about travelling is being able to stay in different styles of accommodation that enhance the beauty of the places we visit. Whether it’s a quirky bed and breakfast or a luxury villa, our accommodation always contributes to the amazing times we have on our trips. Verona was no different.

So that pretty much sums up our last 24 hours. This morning we left Verona and right now are 10 minutes away from arriving in Venice. Luca is still asleep, so I better wake him up. The sun is shining and there’s an amazing book shop I can’t wait to visit, I’m excited!

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