The second stop on my Italian adventure was Verona. A town filled with so much history it felt like I was back in the Roman times. The things I’d learnt about in Latin and Classics at school were still here in this city, from the amphitheatres to the atriums – it made me wish I had come on a school trip here as I’m sure it would have enthused me more about what I was learning (or maybe that is just a romanticised view and it was school so, of course, I wasn’t going to care).
“In fair Verona, where we lay our scene…”
Aside from the architectural history, it was also impossible to miss that Verona was the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. From restaurants to shops, all the marketing was based around these two fictional characters. You kind of have to give them credit because they have truly gone to town to bring in the tourists. The main attraction was ‘Juliet’s house’. Not her actual house because she, of course, is not a real person (a fact that had to be pointed out to a lot of people) but a house picked so that the tourists could have something to look at. In the 1930’s it was decided that a balcony should be built – again for the tourists. There was also a very worn brass statue of Juliet in the courtyard that was surrounded by hoards of people getting their photo (I was not one of them – I got too stressed out by all the people!).
As with most cities and towns in Italy, they are filled with Churches. I seemed to spend most of my time walking to and from different churches, all completely beautifully decorated, with walls covered in paintings. I also spent a lot of time walking up things, towers and hills and castles but it was all worth it because of the views!
Once again I tried to make sure I ate in the most interesting places or, at least, ones that were filled with locals. I used this article on the Guardian website, which was mostly useful but because it’s not high season a lot of the restaurants were closed. Here’s what I did find and would recommend:
- Caffe Monte Baldo – I managed to get the last table in this cosy restaurant. With wine bottles lining the walls, it really did feel like a regular stop for the locals. The food was delicious and they made a note of saying that you may have to wait as they are freshly making the food.
- Casa Mazzanti – In the centre of Verona is Piazza Delle Erbe a large square filled with cafes and bars. This was my favourite spot to have a pre-dinner prosecco and watch the hustle and bustle in the square – helped by the fact they gave you free olives and crisps with your drink, which is always a winner in my book!
- Giardino Giusti – across the river there were these beautiful gardens that were designed so that as you climbed up through them, the city of Verona is slowly revealed to you. I decided to take a picnic to have a top as the weather was so nice. There was a daily market in the Piazza Delle Erbe where I got some fruit, I went to De Rossi, a bakery to get some bread and a deli on Corso Sant’Anastaisa to get some olives, salami and cheese – I had a feast and all for just €5!
My top tip – always look behind you as you don’t know what you are missing. As I was walking into Verona I noticed some people talking photos facing away from the town. I was about to ridicule them for not taking photos of the town they had come to see until I turned around and saw this…
Where I stayed – I stayed in an AirBnB, although it was a half hour walk to centre the host was lovely and it was only a short bus ride to the train station. Plus I needed to lots of walking to burn off all the pizza and pasta!
Some more pictures –
This lake was so calm and peaceful and perfect that I became slightly overwhelmed when I saw it. I didn’t know anything so perfect could exist. With not a cloud in the sky, the mountains forming the backdrop and crystal clear waters it really was beautiful.
I could have sat and looked at it all day and, to be honest, that’s all I wanted to do. I had done so much walking over the past week that I wanted to find a cafe that overlooked the lake where I could read. Sadly this was not to be. I was staying in Peschiera del Garda because it had a train station and was just fifteen minutes away from Verona. There were no cafes or restaurants by the lake – this completely baffled me because surely if you come to the lake you would want to sit by it?
In the end, I had to get on a bus to Sirmione, a village on a narrow peninsula just twenty minutes up the road. It is supposedly the most picturesque village on the lake. It was stunning and you could walk right to the tip and dip your toes in natural hot springs but because I was in the off season although there were, at least, some restaurants looking out over the water a lot of them were closed. I did manage to find one restaurant that had views over the lake and when I asked to sit outside the waiter looked confused and kept asking me if I was sure. Very disgruntle he laid me a table and I was the only person outside. I just couldn’t understand why anyone would come to somewhere so beautiful on a sunny day and not want to sit looking at the view.
I would definitely recommend a visit to Lake Garda but if I went again I would do some more research to find a nicer town or village to stay in. Sirmione would probably be a nice place to stay although
I took a lot of photos of the lake but these are my favourites: