Another city to add to your tour in Veneto region is certainly Verona, the home to the most romantic love story, to lyrical music, theatre and delicious wine.
This city is very well known thanks to the English poet and playwright William Shakespeare, who was inspired by the history and architecture of Verona for his masterpiece Romeo and Juliet. Montecchi, the family of Romeo, was a rich merchant family and Capuleti was the family of Juliet. Italian poet and writer, Dante Alighieri mentioned the two families in his Divine Comedy, although there is no proof of their opposition, which culminated to the development of one of the most inspiring love story of all time. Around the narrative of this unfortunate couple, there is still a vail of legend mixed with reality, probably just another factor which makes this story even more mysterious.
From the central Piazza delle Erbe it is possible to walk to via Cappello where the house of Juliet is an important tourist attraction. Every year couples in love or visitors looking for the love of their life, walk in here to see the world's most famous balcony and to write their vows, hoping to live their dream love story forever.
The house of Romeo is also nearby, but unfortunately it is not possible to visit it as it is privately owned. For those who are the most passionate about Shakespeare' masterpiece, the tour can end at the ex monks' convent where it is possible to see the tomb of Juliet.
Leaving Shakespeare and his novel aside, I recommend you to continue your tour from the main square, Piazza Bra. Here, you will find the Verona Arena, a monumental Roman amphitheatre, built in the first century. This Arena is one of the best conserved in Europe and it is still used for large-scale concerts and opera performances. The acoustics are absolutely impressive as it could be inside a normal Opera House with the advantage that you can enjoy a summer evening outside under, perhaps, a sky full of stars. Here, Aida of Giuseppe Verdi was played for the first time, making all the citizens of Verona very attached to this artist. Including an evening at the arena watching an opera performance, would add an even more exclusive touch to your Italian wedding and holiday.
After Piazza Bra, Piazza delle Erbe is what you should see next. This is definitely the most vibrant point of the city, with its fruit and vegetable market every weekend. The square is surrounded by the municipality palace, Maffei Palace, with statues of Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Saturn. In the middle of the square you will find the statue and fountain of St Mary. In the evening you can taste the Aperol Spritz aperitif here with your friends and enjoy the atmosphere at sunset in the heart of Verona.
Another recommended square to see is Piazza dei Signori, which is also in the center of the city. Here in the middle of the square there is a statue to the famous poet and writer Dante Alighieri. Originally from Florence, Dante is author of numerous masterpieces, (among which the 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy, divided in the three parts Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso is one of the most famous), lived here for seven years in exile.
In the background of the statue there is the massive Scaligeri Palace. This was the home of the noble family governing Verona in the Middle Age, from 1260 to 1387. In the center of the city, it is also possible to see the monumental sarcophagi in Gothic style that this dynasty built for the family.
From the Lamberti Tower located on the left corner of the square, you can enjoy a fabulous view of Verona and her rooftops. The white building at the bottom of the square is the ancient Supreme Court of Verona.
Another impressive monument that you cannot miss in Verona is Castelvecchio Castle. Build by count Cangrande II as a fortess to protect himself from external attacks to the city or from his family, the Scaligeri monarchs.
The castle is an example of Gothic architecture of the age with imposing M-shaped merlons running along the castle and bridge walls. It has seven towers and a long bridge over the river Adige. Inside there is court for the army and the apartments of the noble family. Today, it is a museum with pieces of Rinascimento, Middle Ages and Modern art.
Last but not least, Verona offers a variety of local food that will not leave you disappointed. From beef stew with polenta, gnocchi with cinnamon sauce to bigoli with tomato sauce, there is something for every taste. Verona is also famous for Pandoro, a typical desert for Christmas. It is a sweet cake with lot of vanilla sugar on top that can be cut horizontally in beautiful star shapes.
In Verona, it is also possible to visit the producers of wine and have a delicious wine tasting experience. The areas to visit are surely, Valpolicella hills, Soave and Bardolino, all located in the proximity of Lake Garda. Here the famous Amarone red wine is produced and exported all over the world. So are Ripasso of Valpolicella, Bardolino and, the most loved by the Italians white wine, Soave. If you would prefer to taste all the wines in the same place, then you should be looking at the next Vinitaly. Held in the fair pavilions every year in April, Vinitaly is a wine exhibition and competition of wines from all over the world, but mostly from Italy.
Finally, I would like to say that from the centre of Verona there are trains and buses that will take you to Lake Garda, for who would be interested in a daily trip outside the city. Here, you can not only visit the majestic Italian villas by the lake, but there is also Gardaland, a very famous and enormous theme park with attractions for all ages.
Author: Claudia Ambrosi
Wedding planner and founder