Well, not exactly my hometown, but it was the home town of my ancestor, the Baron. However, after visiting Verona, I wouldn’t be ashamed to call it my home; it is a beautiful city. You won’t see any pictures referring to Romeo and Juliet because I avoided that trap. The city has much more to offer that fake balconies and possible houses of Shakespeare’s ill-fated lovers from his famous and beloved play. My only complaint about Verona is that it is very difficult to navigate around the city. The street signs have either not been replaced since the Roman Empire ;-), which means you can’t find them because they have faded on the facade of a building or there is no street sign. It is very frustrating.
We did not stay at a romantic hotel in Verona. We stayed at a Holiday Inn about 15 minutes drive from the old city because I had enough Priority Club points for two free nights. It was a decent Holiday Inn that had been recently renovated. The breakfast buffet was included and was not the best Holiday Inn breakfast buffet, but certainly not the worst.
Verona became a Roman Municipality in 49 B.C. So, the layout of the old city is based on the typical Roman military grid. Originally the Arena and Piazza Bra were on the outskirts of the city.
One of the most impressive pieces of architecture in Verona is the Roman Amphitheatre, called the Arena, which means sand and refers to the sand that was spread in the middle of the amphitheatre to absorb the blood and cushion the gladiators falls. It was built at the beginning of the 1st century AD, some 50 years before the Colosseum of Rome and was the third largest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire. It could hold approximately 30,000 people, which was more than the population of the city itself. In the Middle Ages, it was used as a fortress and its arches became workshops, shops and bordellos. In August 1913, a performance of Aida was held at the Arena on what would have been Giuseppe Verdi’s birthday and it has been hosting the summer opera festival ever since. It is an impressive structure and a real testament to Roman architecture.
Verona is a walkable city, with new surprises around every corner. Buildings with frescoes, like the ones above.
And, beautiful brickwork. This is the inner courtyard of and the Scala della Ragione or Steps of Reason leading up to the Scala family’s palazzo. The Scalas were one of the rulers of Verona in the 17th century.
There are also beautiful piazzi to walk around and dream about another time.
I guess you are wondering about the food…..
Since this was the beginning of our trip, we were trying to behave ourselves and believe it or not we didn’t buy any sweet treats. It is true!
We did have some decent food in Verona. Nothing fancy, just nice simple meals.
Our first evening in Verona we decided to go some where near the hotel and the front desk at our hotel recommended Osteria Mattarana. This was a nice and simple restaurant that was full of locals. We were the only tourists in sight and since we both speak Italian, we fit right in. We were a bit shy about taking pictures, but everything we had was delicious. We had the following:
Il tritone – we shared this
An antipasti consisting of carpaccio of smoked swordfish, triangles of polenta with smoked pike and smoked salmon with rocket (arugala) butter
Il fettucine di pasta fresca ai porcini tartufati – my husband
Fresh fettucine with porcini mushrooms and a sprinkling of black truffles
Pizza Misto Bosco – me
A pizza with sauteed wild mushrooms
The food was delicious and not too expensive. I would definitely eat there again. They are famous for there inhouse cured meats and their steaks.
Stay tuned for Part II