This was a quick layover for us and we arrived after dark, taxi to the hotel, a bite to eat (fat meat, OMG Ryan!) and off to bed.
We had 4 hours next morning to see what sights we could before we had to catch the train south. That was just enough time and luckily, Verona is a small city and easily walked. So off we went to explore the walled city. First we arrived at Castlevecchio. Built in the 1300’s entirely of brick with imposing guard towers and iron gates, it was a military stronghold to protect Verona, a wealthy city in its day. Pont Scaligero, the bridge through the castle and across the Adige River River, is now a city thorough fare but traffic was very quiet on this Monday morning.. .. great view down and up river from here.
Onward to the center to see the ancient coluseum. Built in 30 AD, it is 50 years older than the coluseum in Rome and is still used today for concerts and plays.
Next we came to Piazza Erbe (named for the famous herbs once sold here 2 millenia ago). Now filled with souvenir venders, it is still a very vibrant place in the heart of the city. Streets radiate outward from the piazza signifying it was the main center long ago.
Nearby the piazza is the much visited fictional house of Juliette from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette. Here in a tiny courtyard off the street we found the statue of Juliette and the famous balcony where Romeo wooed her. There were a few tourists but nothing compared to Venice and although completely fictional, was enchanting beautiful. Surrounding her statue, visitors have left their personal love notes to their loved one. Kind of neat in a touristy way.
Next and only 5 minutes away, we came to the magnificent duomo with its outstanding carvings, sculptures and frescoes. As I wandered the interior I was aware that I was viewing famous antiquities that I didn’t even know the artist or the significance. I would love to return someday with better research and a guide book in hand. Nevertheless, happy with just my camera and my appreciation for ancient beauty.
Leaving the duomo, we crossed the river and saw the ancient Roman theater on the east hillside. Now in complete ruins, it is slowly being over taken by residences but you can still make out the shape of the semi-circular ampitheater.
Continuing around the north wall back toward our hotel, we came to what our hotel receptionist referred to as “the most beautiful church in all of northern Italy”, San Zeno Maggiore. Built in the early 1100’s, it has a distinctive striped facade of brick and marble and fascinating bronze doors depicting the life of San Zeno, Patron Saint of Fishermen. No stained glass but incredible statuary inside. The wall frescoes are deteriorated but still evident. Outside is a beautiful cloister offering perfect photo opps.
And we were done and it was time to go. It only took is three hours in Verona…just enough to see some highlights and make you aware you just got a taste.