Milan to Verona – 165 km (train) &
18,065 Fit Bit steps
There is no end of fascinating places to visit in Italy. Verona is yet another. The city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its urban structure and architecture, which includes a 1st century Roman Arena, home of world renowned opera performances in the summer, and the rediscovered Roman theatre across the river. Although Verona preserved many ancient Roman monuments no longer in use in the early Middle Ages, much of this and much of its early medieval edifices were destroyed or heavily damaged by an earthquake in 1117, which led to a massive Romanesque rebuilding. From our hotel, we could see the Torre dei Lamberti, an impressive 84 m-high watchtower begun in the 12th C and finished in the 15th C. It stands next to the Arche scaligere, a group of five unusual (but not necessarily edifying) Gothic funerary monuments celebrating the Scaliger family, who ruled in Verona from the 13th to the late 14th century.
Of course, Verona is also famous as the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. While Shakespeare’s characters are fictional, the enterprising city capitalized on the association in the 1930’s to construct the balcony of Juliet on a house in Via Cappello (think Capulet). A bronze statue of Juliet also stands in the square. Shakespeare is not mentioned at the site but is recognized by a plaque with a quote from the play and a bronze bust tucked away by one of the city gates.
Chancing upon an excellent retrospective exhibition of the Colombian painter, Fernando Botero, we both came away with a better appreciation of his art and his signature style. His interpretations of some classics like Raphael’s “La Fornarina” are wonderful. In reading about Botero, we learned of his series of drawings of the humiliation and torture of the Alu Ghraib prisoners in Iraq. These can be seen on the web and are disturbing.
There was much more we could have explored but we also enjoyed simply wandering, stopping for tea, pastries, local wines and cichetti (Italian tapas).