Today I walked up 368 steps. Yeah, that’s totally a joke, I only walked up 125. There was no way I was taking ALL the stairs in my heeled boots. Oh, and I walked all over Verona, Italy.
I arrived in Verona a quarter after 10, so the weather was perfect to walk to the center of the city. I refused to take a taxi: A- because you get a better feel for a city when you walk, and B- Italian taxi drivers have been known to overcharge in touristy areas. My walk into the city took a bit longer than necessary, mostly because I didn’t bother to look at a map before I arrived. So for awhile I was just wandering in the general direction of the city center, following the signs.
Soon enough I stumble into Piazza Bra, the home of Verona’s amphitheater (aka the Roman Colosseum Jr. – yes that is an oxymoron). It was a sight for sore eyes, as I haven’t seen much these past few weeks. The piazza was lively and colorful. People were all over the place, with an especially large crowd near the arena. I walked around the entire piazza, although I did not enter the amphitheater. But I did buy a map!
My next stop was to see Juliet’s Balcony. Yes, I am THAT female tourist. I realize that no such balcony is actually real, but LET ME BE. Oh, and the movie Letter’s to Juliet made it seem like the courtyard is a hidden gem and that people sit around writing all the time. Not the case. It was a madhouse. Advice: Push and shove your way to the front, TAKE NO PRISONERS. Actually, that’s general advice for any tourist attraction in Italy. Italians do not believe in queues. I’m quite proud that I managed to get a photo of the balcony without someone standing there (there is a connected museum that lets you on it).
After I got all the pictures I wanted, I went in search for something else to do. I had a list of options that I got from TripAdvisor, but I generally like to “go with the flow” when I’m exploring a new city. As luck would have it, the next place I stopped at was on said list: the Torre dei Lamberti. It is a clock tower that offers the best views in Verona, but there is a cost to go up. This is where I climbed all the stairs (^see above). For the first 243 steps there is the option of a lift; the rest of the way up requires walking. This activity was easily the most terrifying part of my trip. I think I underestimated my fear of heights until I was climbing this tower all by myself. I had to stop and remind myself to breathe a couple of times. But I paid my €4.50 so there was no way I would NOT get my money’s worth of a view. And I’m glad I did because the view was breathtaking. There are two levels from which you can take pictures, and each of the landings has their own set of bells. The lower level is the best for picture taking because the upper has nets all around for extra safety. Thank god.
Once I came back to earth, I walked down a street that is filled with all of the major shopping: via Mazzini. I only bought one thing and it was on sale (I’m talking to you, Mom!). By then it was lunch time; I chose a side street because I figured it would be less touristy… But the staff STILL insisted on speaking in English to me. I didn’t take the bait and spoke only in Italian.
My next stop was Castel’Vecchio, an old castle and bridge. I opted out of the museum tour – I just wanted a pretty picture! Then it was time for gelato and to head back to the station. When I got back to the Verona train station, it tricked me into thinking they offered free wi-fi. My phone said yes, but my lack of connectivity said otherwise. Honestly, though, I would prefer if the actual trains were wi-fi enabled, as much more of my time is spent on the ride.
I had to plan my day trip to Verona around the available train times for me, which meant getting up earlier than I would have liked and trying to fill the time until the late afternoon. But Verona was definitely worth it. To me, Verona seems like a smaller version of Rome. Surprisingly, as touristy as you would think Verona is, there were plenty of Italian locals hanging out. The prices were not nearly as bad as they could be, but that might be due to the fact that it’s technically off-season.
The only downside to my day was the fact that I found out, a little too late, that there was a national strike happening. Meaning that I was stranded at a train station one stop away from where I live. Luckily, the family I work for is awesome and the father came to pick me up. Then I get home to read this blog post about strikes. If only I had seen it yesterday!
Note to self: No more Friday day trips. That tends to the day that most strikes occur.