Many of heard of Verona as the setting for the Shakespeare classic, Romeo and Juliet. Although there is plenty of tourism around this fact, Verona has significantly more to offer and is probably one of the prettiest cities we visited in Italy. Verona was on our itinerary as a stopping point on or way to Cortina with Ryan’s parents The city central is surrounded by large looming walls with a giant arch under which you enter – one of the most significant being the I Portini della Bra. The piazza Bra is one of the most stunning I have seen outside of Rome – and this is not surprising. Verona was a major flagship city to the capital of the Roman Empire. There is even an old Roman amphitheater which resembles the Colosseum and is flanked by beautiful Renaissance style buildings and a impressive government building/ palace at the other end of the piazza. The city was packed- and I mean it was more crowded than the throngs of Rome or Florence. There must have been an event going on – or maybe the fact that it was Easter weekend- that drew all of the locals in.
We made our way down the upscale shopping street called Via Giuseppe Mazzini, almost walking in a line because it was so densely crowded. This then led us to the Piazza delle Erbe, which was just as stunning as the first. There you can see the Torre dei Lamberti, the Palazzo Mercato Vecchio, and the frescoes walls surrounding the villas. If you make a right there is the Piazza dei Signori with the Loggio del Consiglio. I felt everywhere you looked in Verona was another surprise.
The one major sight we yearned to see was the Castelvechhio- an old castle near the wall of the old city. We unfortunately could not go inside because of the dog, but were able to enjoy phenomenal views of the city by waking it’s walls which then turned into a stunning bridge across the Adige river.
We did not get an opportunity to eat a meal in Verona. The only thing we had was an underwhelming gelato- which was u fortunate since the food outside in the markets looked fantastic.
For a stop over on a road trip, I would say this is a must see for any traveler. I only wish we had spent the night!
From Verona we went to stop in Vicenza, another minor city on the Venetian arc know for the famous Palladian villas (the architect who created the Italian style villa that we know today). Unfortunately, our first impression of Vincenza was not that great as we ended up eating at a terrible bar recommended by Lonely Planet. This was partially our fault because we didn’t read between the lines that it was probably just good for drinks – and not food. It was your typical sports (in this case, soccer) bar with dozens of young Italians drinking beer outside. The place was dingy, and so was the food.
We stayed at a travelers hotel- Hotel Victoria- alongside the side of the highway outside the centro which was fine for one nights stay.The next morning we made an effort to do some sightseeing. The town is much more charming in daylight, and Palladian influence is ubiquitous throughout the cities in the design of many of its buildings including the Teatro Olimpico, a UNESCO world heritage site, which unfortunately we only were able to view from the outside.
We thought the most beautiful and interesting was the Basilica Palladiana in the Piazza dei Signori, whose second floor was constructed in the Renaissance style. We did not have the time to see the two famous villas outside the city, Palazzo Chiericati and Villa La Rotunda , which are two of the original Italian villa models. Overall, we enjoyed Vincenza for a nice stroll but would not recommend it as a stopping point for travelers unless you are a big architecture buff.