August 28th, 2014
Before fall officially arrives and the grapes come calling, we decided to take another day trip; this time to Verona.
While it’s only three hours away by train, train times are not great, which meant we left the house at 6:30am for the 7am train.
It hurt even more when our train to Venice broke down in a small town called Casarsa and we sat on the tracks for 30 minutes before the Carabinieri ushered us off, where we waited on the platform for another 15 minutes for another train. We had dressed for sunny-but-crisp fall weather, under the promise of mid-70s in Verona. Sadly, Casarsa (and the rest of northern Italy) didn’t seem to get the memo that it was supposed to be sunny. The rains started as we chugged along in the new train to Venice and when we got off, we thought long and hard about continuing on to Verona. We’d missed our connection at this point and the next train wasn’t for another 90 minutes, but we concluded that we’d already made it two-thirds of the way there and we might as well press on.
We arrived in the Verona station at noon and the rains had followed us. Our weather apps promised clearing in the afternoon, so we hopped a bus and trudged through town, looking for a place for lunch/refuge. With soggy shoes and socks (and a newly purchased sweater), I was in need of a bit more convincing to stay and Dave knows the best way to do that is with food.
We found a cute little corner osteria and our lunch was perfect, rainy-day comfort food, Italian-style. Dave with his roasted chicken and I with my (Italian) mac-and-cheese. The rains had turned to downpour at this point, so we lingered over the dessert menu, until finally, the skies let up over our chocolate torta.
I’m so, so glad they did.
Verona ended up being a beautifully vibrant city with plenty of activity while maintaining a historical feel. We loved it. Post-lunch, we ventured over to Casa di Giulietta of Romeo & Juliet fame. Through a small entryway covered in “love letters” pasted on the wall with band-aids (interesting choice), was a tiny little courtyard with the famous balcony and a statue of Juliet standing in front of a large gate with love locks attached.
We snapped our photos as the humidity rose and found our way to Giardino Giusti, which is where we spent a huge amount of time, taking in the manicured gardens, dodging snails that crept out after the rains and finding our way through the winding paths that led up to the Belvedere, or the tower-balcony over looking the gardens.
As we toured around the city, we snapped photos of the Ponte Pietra, the pedestrian bridge leading back to the center of town, ducked in the shops along Via Mazzini, before finally stopping for an aperitivo near the arena.
Verona was exactly what I think of when I think Italian city— a historic city center full of life, buildings painted in rich colors, many with extra pops of bright colors from their flower boxes outside the windows, endless choices for mom-and-pop style restaurants and bars…the whole city was walkable with so much activity that you don’t realize how far you’ve actually been in a day. A quintessential Italian city. Verona actually reminded me a lot of Florence, if Florence didn’t have the heavy Renaissance slant.
Our train departed at 7pm and we didn’t get back to Udine until 10:30pm, making for a very long day, but Verona, you were most certainly worth it.
(click any image to enlarge)