In fair Verona (& Padova) where we lay our scene: Travels in the Veneto
And so, having left the very South of Italy, I hopped on a RyanAir flight up North, to Venice, to visit two wonderful friends I made through Erasmus, in order to spend the weekend visiting Verona and Padova (translated as Padua in English). Having already been lucky enough to spend time in Venice (thank you Warwick!) I joined my friends a day later, meeting them for dinner overlooking the canals, before returning to our home in Padova.
Whilst Venice is indeed dreamy, it is also very expensive, hence we chose to stay in the neighbouring town of Padova, famous for being the location of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, or, the one that was the base of the classic film 10 Things I Hate About You.
However, first up for the weekend was a trip to another of Shakespeare’s quintessential locations… Verona.
Il maestro in the centre of Verona in Piazza Bra
Filled with old cobbled streets, and literally thousands of tourists, it’s fair to say Verona plays up to its infamous reputation as the home of Romeo + Juliet, complete with every type of memorabilia imaginable. I mean, what is a trip to Verona without a visit to the Casa Giulietta, the “home” of Juliet, where you can buy Romeo + Juliet themed chocolate, kitchen equipment, and of course, a whole host of horrific slogan T-Shirts…
Together forever – although, if you write you and your beloved’s initials in the wrong place, you could a fine of over 1000 euros
Yes, even though she is a fictional character, her family, the Capulets, were based on a real Veronese family, and their house has now been transformed into a tourist haven, complete with a balcony for the quintessential photo shoot, and of course, the statue of Juliet…
They say if you touch her exposed breast, it brings you true love, although, quite why this man felt the need to wear a helmet in order to so is beyond me #safetyfirst #allsfairinloveandwar
Speaking of luck and love, we decided to visit the “Well of Love” which I imagine has a story like “if you drink the water from here, you will find your true love etc,” or something, but I wouldn’t know, as when we arrived it was closed.
And thus, Frieda and I are doomed to be spinsters forever
However, Shakespearean motifs aside, the city is also an important Roman heritage site, complete with bridges, walls and arenas from the classical era. Including the iconic amphitheatre, which has the Verona opera festival every summer, where classics such as Carmen and The Barber of Seville are played in the open air, and the singers can take advantage of the insane acoustics.
Why is there always construction when you want to take a photo?
Next up was Padova, slightly less crowded, and most definitely more modern. (There was even an H&M, a big deal when you live in Siena). Day 1, and of course the first order of business was coffee, so to the Caffe Pedrocchi it was, home to the famous “mint coffees” which of course we had to try.
Whilst it’s a no from me, it was, apparently, a fave of Lord Byron
At this point I must add, I was suffering from tonsillitis in 1 tonsil (why me?), hence the trip to Padova was slightly less inspiring for me. Activities here involved: having a nap in the biggest square in Europe, which is complete with its own market and garden…
Tourism is tiring
However, I did manage to fit in a trip to the Botanical Gardens of Padova, which are the oldest in the world as they were opened in 1545.
Clearly I was feeling nostalgic about South America as I spent most of my time in the cactus-filled greenhouses
Evidently, Padova made for a less inspiring tourism adventure, and so with a train departing that afternoon, it was time to head south again, to my home in Siena, ready for my final weeks of Easter vacation.