When I moved from Dublin to Zurich, the first thing that made me jump for joy was the relative proximity of my hometown, Verona. All of a sudden, there was no more need to book an airplane ticket, as I could just hop on a last-minute train or take the car, anytime I wanted, easy-peasy. Actually, distances are so short that my relatives could come visit us, too.
These were my thoughts while I was carrying my first child and hormones were running high. Later on, things have become a little more realistic, thanks to toddlers and babies and luggage and so on (I mainly travel by myself with the children, as hubby has to work most of the time). My trips are not as frequent anymore, but no matter what, when school holidays arrive, we pack and we go!
Verona is a stunning city, perfect for a weekend or even more. It is called the “city of love” because of the story of Romeo and Juliet, but I call it this because of the love I still feel for her. Only a few hours away by train or car, it is also easily reachable from Venice airport or with a direct bus from Zurich city center.
I grew up in Verona, in a little street close to the Adige river – the second longest in Italy – and the Cathedral: I used to wake up to the sound of its bells, take long walks with my mom through silent alleys, feed the pigeons and run after them in Piazza dei Signori, and stare at the old lady peeling artichokes in Piazza delle Erbe – she was mesmerizing for us kids.
To me, Verona and its city center have not changed much since my childhood. The artichoke lady is sadly not there anymore, and pigeons are not the aseptic fellas I used to believe they were; still, the pleasure I have in wandering around the streets of my city is always special and memorable, and this always surprises me. Having my kids with me now makes it even more meaningful.
From the Roman settlement to the age of the Communes, Verona has preserved a very special charm, linked not only to the poignant story of Romeo and Juliet, but also to its millenary and stratified history.
I never miss the chance to show Verona to my kids and I must confess it’s an easy task, especially for some of the attractions available at any time of the year. Here’s what I would definitely recommend in Verona:
This amphitheater is the symbol of the city and the most important Roman monument in Verona. Built around the first half of the first century A.D., it has been home to the prestigious summer opera season for decades and, because of its dark hallways, it provides perfect fuel for young imaginations.
The castle, today home of the Civic Museum of the city, is a typical military building with crenellated walls, towers, a moat that drew water from the Adige river, drawbridges, and an imposing fortified bridge built for the exclusive use of the Scala family and its garrison.
Piazza Erbe, Piazza Dante, Cortile Mercato Vecchio
I love these squares; they are cozy and always full of life, great for a Spritz drink after work, excellent for letting the kids run around, perfect for listening to music on a warm summer evening. From these three places, you can take a short walk to admire the Palazzo di Cangrande and the Loggia di Fra Giocondo, Palazzo di Cansignorio and Palazzo della Ragione.
I grew up in Via Pigna, and walking and wandering around the area has still the same charm of forty years ago to me. You are in the old part of the city and at a walking distance from the Cathedral, the Basilica of Santa Anastasia, the Roman Theater and Ponte Pietra. You can get lost in a quiet that seems surprising in the plain center of a city: you will love to start from Via Augusto Verità, enter Via Pigna, continue to San Giacomo alla Pigna, see the Cathedral, visit the Chiostro del Capitolo, which is the oldest library in the world and still in operation.
What is possibly considered the most famous monument of Verona is just a stroll away from Piazza Erbe, at number 23 of Via Cappello. I am talking about Juliet’s House. I love Shakespeare’s story and so do the thousands of tourists visiting the building every year. Don’t forget to rub the bronze chest of Juliet, because it will bring you luck – and, of course, a selfie is in order.
I hope I have inspired you to pack your bag and hit the road to Verona! If you are already planning a visit to the city and need some suggestions to plan your stay, feel free to drop me a line and I would be happy to help. Have fun!
Story and photos by Chiara Capuzzo
Chiara is Italian and mom to two children. She’s lived in Zurich since 2011. Chiara likes coffee, she wanders; she writes on her blog, and she meets as many new people as she can. Find out more: mywandercoffee.com and on Instagram: mywandercoffee