Europe Week Ten: Verona
A city so dreamy and charming, Verona will romance you at first sight.
I woke up at the crack of dawn and quietly slipped out of the hotel. I opened the door to be greeted by an almost empty Piazza Erbe. I walked across the narrow length of the piazza, through the Arco della Costa and under the whale bone, following the cobblestone road, past the Gothic Scaligeri tombs and through clean empty alleyways. A jogger quietly runs past me, and I turn onto a street lined with parked cars. I walk up a few steps and see the river before me. A seagull flies by and directs my gaze towards the towering houses and trees on the opposite side. The sound of wheels rolling across the pavement surprises me as I turn around to see three children pulling their backpacks along and racing each other to school. The sun, as it rises, illuminates the tops of the neighboring trees covered in yellow leaves. I stand by the river and take in the serene setting. I follow the children across up the river to Ponte Pietra, an old Roman bridge closed off to car access. I turned around and see the stone houses glowing in morning light, the cathedral tower rising high above the trees. I wait for cars to pass and cross the big Regaste Redentore with a small crowd of pedestrians and bikers. I continue straight ahead and up a series of steps that lead around the old Roman theater up to Piazzale Castel San Pietro. I’m sweating up a storm as I follow the stone walls higher and higher up the hill. Finally I find myself peering out from behind the trees. The most magnificent view of Verona greets me and I stare out at the river, the trees, and the clusters of red-roofed buildings. The city comes alive with the glistening light and I can’t help but gasp at the beauty.
From there, the day only got more magical. With my class we visited Castelvecchio, a medieval castle restored by architect Carlo Scarpa into a museum. Scarpa's meticulously detailed architectural style highlighted every doorway and staircase and landing. We walked along the bridge, sketched the equestrian statue from the Scaligeri Tombs, and cracked up at my new favorite painting ever, Portrait of a Young Boy holding a Child's Drawing (1515). Afterward we strolled through the town, following Fiume Adige, crossing Piazza Erbe, dined by the arena, and window shopped along the marble paved Via Giuseppe Mazzini. After our walk-around-the-city-lecture ended, I visited Juliet's balcony. (Because what girl doesn't.) As expected, it's been commercialized to pull in hordes of tourists but, hey, joining the crowd is fun in a while. For dinner we went to a small local restaurant and I tried horse meat balls, a local specialty. With friends, wine, and the most friendly atmosphere, it was certainly a night to remember.
The day I spent in Verona was one of the most beautiful days I spent in Europe, filled with romantic walks through the small pedestrian-friendly city and soft daylight that illuminated every corner we turned. Verona, you have my heart.