Hey everyone, hope you’re all well and enjoying the sunshine! Or snow for that matter, depending on where you’re currently reading from. Luca and I are in Italy visiting his family and since they’re just a train trip away from amazing places like, Milan, Verona, Venice etc., we decided to make the most of our time here and do a few day trips out. First up was Verona! A beautiful location, ancient roman ruins and home to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, I knew I was in for a treat.
Arrival… early starts and a scary situation
Our journey to Verona started early. Five in the morning early. So you’d think by the time we arrived 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 and Luca really wanted me to try a breakfast toasty they only make in Europe.
Sitting outside in the courtyard of McDonald’s was actually quite nice. The toasty, not so much. Just tasted like a whole lot of plastic cheese melted between two slices of bread to me. But Luca enjoyed it, and I was happy with my second order of a bacon and egg McMuffin. We had a great view of the Porta Bra and I was enjoying watching the locals pass by. 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 see was eyeing Luca’s camera. My instincts kicked in and I quickly picked up the camera from our table and placed it in my lap, holding onto it for dear life. With a map of Verona laid out in front of me, it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t a local. The guy eyeing the camera asks me in English if I need any help and I politely decline. The way the guys have positioned themselves, they’re clearly blocking me in, and I know if I want to get up and away from them, I’ll have to push my way through.
With his eyes still locked on the camera, he responds “but you have a map, you need help.” I’m offended that just because I have a map he thinks I automatically 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, so I follow my instincts again and respond “no, I’m fine, my boyfriend is Italian and he’s just over there,” as I point towards the door. Thank god, that at the exact same time Luca was heading towards our table. Hesitating briefly, no doubt trying to asses if I was telling the truth or not, the guy decides to move on, indicating to the others to follow him.
I hate everything about that situation. The way the guys were positioned, blocking me in. The fact I had to mention the word boyfriend and that he was Italian, for them to leave. 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 disappointing to say, but female solo travellers can often be an easy target for theft, and in certain cases much worse. I shouldn’t have experienced that and neither should anyone else. It makes me so mad that people think that kind of behaviour is okay. Because it most certainly is not! So to all women travelling solo, just be aware and don’t be so accepting of help.
Checking In… Airbnb with class
One thing I love about travelling, is staying in different styles of accommodation. Especially ones that enhance the beauty of the places I visit. For Verona, we booked an Airbnb. Located only a five minute walk from the city centre, it was the perfect combination of rustic charm and modern industrialism.
Exploring the city… ancient ruins, plus Romeo & Juliet
As we only had one day in this beautiful city, so we wanted to make the most of it. I waisted no time at all, pulling out my list of top sites we wanted to visit and first up was 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, it accommodated around 30,000 people and is still in use today. It was an incredible feeling to be in the presence of such architecture and it turned my not so great morning, into a great start for the rest of the day.
After admiring the arena we headed over to Cash 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 is insane. I’ve never seen so many people huddled together, selfie sticks out, to get that perfect picture. Not wanting to suffocate amongst the mass group of tourists, we got a few pictures and then quickly moved on. What I found to be quite unique and slightly bizarre for this attraction, was the wall leading to Juliet’s balcony. The entire wall was covered in band aids! People had written messages on them such as, Heather was here and Amelia 2017. But I mean band aids… really?
Next up was Castelvecchio. Walking the streets from Juliet’s balcony to the bridge of Castelvecchio, it became apparent to me that the locals hardly seemed to notice the breathtaking beauty that surrounded them. From the marbled walkways to the apartments covered in wisteria, even the ancient Roman Gate wasn’t acknowledged as many passed under it on their way to work or school. I however, was in awe and took in every little detail I could.
As we approached the bridge, to see the construction of it up close, was just incredible. I’m not easily scared by heights, so I made my way up to one of the openings in the wall and perched myself on top for an amazing view of the city.
The last site on our list for the day was Piazzale Castel San Pietro, which showcases the best view of the city. 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 the same idea, with crowds of people situated along the castle’s ledge. Finding ourselves a spot we set up a little picnic and took in the magical views.
Dinner… a hidden gem of Verona
After watching the sun set over the city, we made our way back to the centre for dinner. I had come across a place called Alcova del Frate whilst doing my research on Verona. A lesser known tourist spot, but a popular one with the locals. Always wanting to go where the locals go (because that’s usually where the best cuisine is) we sat down at a cute little table for two and ordered almost everything off the menu. It all looked so good! Well except the one item popular in Verona that I was making sure to avoid… horse. Yep, they love it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat it.
Every dish we ordered was perfection, reasonably priced, and with a great atmosphere and friendly and prompt staff, we honestly couldn’t have asked for more.
Departure… off to Venice
Waking up early, we checked out of our Airbnb and headed back to the train station. Next up was Venice! I had visited Venice once before when I was 19 and with fond memories intact, I couldn’t wait to explore it with fresh eyes.