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Verona: The City of Romantics

We took a day trip to Verona on our 3 Week Europe Tour. After arriving at the train station in Verona, we took a city bus to downtown Verona, and set off to explore the city.  Verona is a happy, bustling Italian city famous for love, thanks to Romeo and Juliet, and the film, Letters to Juliet. But Verona offers more than just romance, it is also home to well preserved Roman history and ruins. We visited the Arena di Verona right in the middle of the city, a slightly smaller version of the Roman Colosseum and the third largest amphitheater in the world.  We took the Rick Steves Walking Tour around the city of Verona, visiting the historic churches, Roman ruins, and historic statues before our main stop at Casa di Giulietta.

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Casa di Giulietta is famously attributed to be Juliet Capulet’s house and balcony from William Shakespeare’s well-known Romeo and Juliet. The tiny courtyard is covered in the names and initials of romantics and lovers, written on everything from heart-shaped locks to bandaids, chewing gum to bits of paper and tape.  Casa di Giulietta might be the only place in Italy where visitors from around the world are encouraged to graffiti the public space with their initials and tokens of love for one another. Along with other Romeo and Juliet fans, I paid the 2 € fee to climb upstairs and stand on Juliet’s balcony overlooking the courtyard, and waited patiently for a chance to take a photo with Juliet’s statue.  Local lore has it that if you rub Juliet’s bronze breast, you’ll have good luck in love.  As we were out of chewing gum, we opted for the more tasteful option of purchasing a lock and key set from the gift shop in the courtyard, complete with sharpie marker, lock and key.  Being loyal KSU Wildcat fans, we of course bought a purple lock, and after marking it with our names and the date, snapped it onto one of the gates in the courtyard. Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?

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We reached the Piazza dei Signori, one of the main squares in Verona, and admired the towering statue of Dante, who seemed to contemplate his surroundings much like a lost tourist without a map. We also made our way to Piazza Erbe, Verona’s market square, and one of the best places to snag some souvenirs and gifts for friends and family back home. Leather purses, belts and wallets are on display next to Italian made dried pasta, scarves, and more. After shopping for a while, we spotted a few young schoolboys eating French fries from a paper cone, and made it a mission to discover where they had gotten the delicious snack.

After we stopped for lunch at a wonderful local restaurant and stuffed ourselves with pasta, we finally found the French fry restaurant, Queen’s Chips Amsterdam.  The menu has only French fries, and you can top your fries, served in a paper cone, with various seasonings or sauces. The French fry café was apparently very popular with the younger crowd, we saw several more children come in to buy their fries while we were there. We opted for cheese fries, but unfortunately, cheese fries in Italy mean something entirely different than cheese fries in the U.S.  It was not nacho cheese, as I had anticipated, but some kind of canned cheese which was neither warm nor tasty.

Our French fries might have been a bust, but Verona is definitely a city worth the visit. I much preferred Verona over Venice, as it has more of an authentic and charming Italian vibe and is less touristy. Roman history is everywhere in Verona, from the frescoes on the buildings to the original Roman city gate, and love is in the air wherever you wander. Whether or not you’re travelling with your true love, Verona’s infectious joyful atmosphere will make you fall in love with Italy.

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