Verona would not be Verona if Shakespeare had not set here the most famous love story in literature, the one between Romeo and Juliet, a story born against the rivalry of two noble families always in conflict. Although the families are really existed, there is no historical trace about love story, ended tragically, among the descendant of their respective families.
We don’t know the reason why the playwright wanted to set his story just in Verona. Perhaps because it was a great admirer of Italy, perhaps because it was near the powerful Venice, perhaps because the story is the transposition of a previous tale – a Luigi da Porto’s work – set in Siena.
The story of the two lovers still surely represents a strong element for tourist attraction in Verona. It’s a city that covers a relatively contained area but it has highly significant monuments.
The visit can begin from the “Gates of Bra” (photo 1) which ideally represent the entrance in the historic and most important part of the city. They are characterized by two round arches, by crenellated towers and a large clock and introduce the visitor in the wide Piazza Bra (Bra Square). The beginning of the visit is also facilitated by the presence, in the immediate vicinity, of parking garage, the “Citadel”.
In Piazza Bra, majestic and magnificent, there are great impact buildings including Barbieri Palace (photo 2), in neoclassical style, today the town hall.
In front of Barbieri Palace, hidden among the trees, there is the Fountain of the Alps (photo 3) which since 1975 has been commemorating the twinning between Verona and Munich. In this fountain people love to celebrate the great sporting achievements with a swim in its waters.
Here there is also the most important monument of the city, real historical symbol of Verona, the Arena (photo 4). It’s a roman amphitheater dating back to the I century A.D. that seems to remember the Colosseum in Rome; the Arena is still a privileged seat of classical and modern music concerts.
In front of the Arena there is a beautiful marble aedicule (photo 5), in Gothic style, one of many scattered in the city. It is a capital with four faces, on which are depicted sacred images.
From Piazza Bra, taking Giuseppe Mazzini Street, you can reach, in just over 10 minutes of walk, the wonderful Piazza delle Erbe, where it’s located the city market, and from there, through the short Via della Costa, in the gorgeous Piazza dei Signori, the true center of the city and the traditional evening meeting place for young people (photo 6).
The square, a true open-air museum, is characterized by great beauty and prestigoius monuments. At the center of the square you can admire a marble statue of Carrara dedicated to Dante Alighieri (the square is known in the city as Dante Square). The north side of the square is bordered by the medieval Palazzo del Podestà (or Cangrande Palace), really majestic, with a white renaissance portal.
Next to Palazzo del Podestà there are the nice “Scaliger tombs” (photo 7), a small private cemetery, monumental and spectacular, visible through a richly decorated railing and which preserves the tombs of the first Gentlemen of Verona.
In the square there is the “Palazzo della Ragione” (photo 8), an important museum today, built in the late twelfth century to house the magistrates of the City.
But you cannot say to be at Verona without the visit of Juliet’s House, located in Cappello Street, less than 300 meters from Piazza dei Signori (photo 9).
The inside part of the house is interesting, with a fine display of furniture and vintage clothes. But the most important part of the visit is the famous balcony of Juliet (photo 10) from which our heroine declaimed her love for Romeo:
O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name; Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.Tis but thy name that is my enemy. Thou art thyself, though not a Montague. What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face. O, be some other name Belonging to a man. What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, Retain that dear perfection which he owes Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name; And for thy name, which is no part of thee, Take all myself.
From Piazza dei Signori, along Garibaldi Street and Barchetta Street, you can reach the Duomo (photo 11), the main place of worship in the town. The Duomo, or better said, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Matricolare, is in the bight of Adige river, being almost close to its waters. It has a Romanesque bell tower and in the tripartite pediment.
WHERE TO PARK
Very convenient it is the parking garage “Citadel”, a short walk from the “Gates of the Bra” from which can start your tour of the city. It is a bit expensive as a day of parking costs about 18 €. It remains the best solution for those who only stops in town for a day.