Published: July 19th 2011July 9th 2011
This is our first blog of seven about our honeymoon in Italy.
After a 3:30am wake up call to get to the airport Nikki and I were pretty tired by the time we arrived in Verona. I always worry until I’ve landed and got all of my luggage and seeing as this was our honeymoon I was particularly worried. Once we had everything we hopped in a cab and in no time at all we were at our hotel, Albergo Aurora.
Our hotel was not a posh hotel in terms of star rating but its location was awesome, it is situated on Piazza Erbe, a bustling market place during the day and at night home to restaurants & bars, it is walking distance to literally all of the tourist attractions. Our room was fantastic, the only room in the hotel which overlooks Piazza Erbe and has a private balcony, I always love a room with a view and I’ve got to say ours was pretty good.
After we had checked in we dumped our bags in to our room and went exploring and our first stop was Verona’s number one tourist attraction, Juliet’s balcony. There is a reason
Shakespeare chose Verona for his greatest love story, it is not only a beautiful city but romance oozes from every inch as you walk along the cobble stoned streets. As you walk along Piazza Erbe you get to Via Capello (Capulet Street), in front of you is a big gate that opens on to a courtyard full of people. As you walk in you cannot actually see the colour of the walls through all of the love messages people have wrote on the walls over the years.
I had read about a ticket that you can buy, the ‘Verona Card’, that gets you into all of the major attractions and gets you free travel within the city centre, luckily we were able to buy it at Casa De Giulietta, 15 Euros each for a 2 day ticket to see all of the tourist sites, some sights are 10 Euros to get into just one of the attractions.
Casa De Giulietta is a medieval house that has become a museum to the story of Romeo & Juliet, people are queuing inside to have their picture taken on that famous balcony whilst others walk around looking at art work and
traditional attire from the time Romeo and Juliet was set. In the courtyard there is a metal gate with padlocks with people’s very own love messages, as this was our honeymoon (and as I’m a complete tourist) we bought a padlock and wrote our very own message on it (see our main picture).
Whilst standing in Piazza Erbe I could not stop looking at the buildings surrounding me, each building, although connected, looked different from the one next to it. When I think of Italy I think of narrow streets, each building rendered in a light pastel shade of yellow, orange or pink, small balconies at the windows on the higher floors and plant pots hanging from each balcony. When we got to Verona it epitomises everything I had imagined, the weather had faded paintings drawn on to the sides of buildings but you could still make some out, the plaster on the sides of buildings had cracked or fallen away, in parts revealing exposed brick, which adds to the character that you’d expect when visiting Italy. The little imperfections made our surroundings even more perfect, the buildings in Verona look so typically Italian that you would almost think
they are fake. I know it’s a bold claim but so far Verona is the most beautiful city I have ever visited!
Verona is a very small place and everything is no more than a ten minute walk away, after a short stroll along Pizza Erbe we turned right on to Via Mazzini and our next stop was The Arena, a Roman ampi-theatre which was built in the first century. The Arena is being used again now to stage events, at the time we visited it was opera season.
After a little wander our 3:30 wake up time was beginning to affect us, we went back to the hotel to have a little rest and woke up two and a half hours later. We got ready and went out for our first dinner whilst in Italy, we went to a beautiful little restaurant at the top of Piazza Erbe call Restaurant Maffei, by the time we got there it was pretty full so a waiter suggested we sit inside until a table became available and that he would give us a glass of prosecco each whilst we waited, free bubbly drink whilst we wait errr yes please.
Being in Italy we both decided to embrace the Italian way of eating and had an anti pasti, primi and a secondi (basically a starter, a small pasta as a sort of second starter and a meat main). We both chose exactly the same thing from the menu which I think is probably the first time we have ever done that. Our anti pasti was squid and prawn served with some small potatoes and a vinaigrette dressing which was very nice. Our primi, or second starter, was a champagne risotto with scampi and monkfish, which was amazing and our main was lobster cooked in a Spanish style brandy sauce, I don’t think I have ever had so much lobster in one sitting. The whole meal was a lot of food and very good food too served by very polite waiters in beautiful surroundings, and the cost of this meal? 120 Euros including drinks, which in my opinion is fantastic.
Our first night sleep was not the best. Being in the centre of all the action comes with its draw backs and as it was a Saturday night I don’t think that helped either. When we got into bed you
could hear the crowds of people in the bars that lined Piazza Erbe, as the night went on and the bars began to close the drunk people within the bars were unleashed on to Piazza Erbe. Groups of drunk men singing/shouting at the top of their voices. Glasses being dropped and smashed, cars beeping people to move, all of these things meant I was woke up several times and to make matters worse the bell tower opposite woke me up at 7am chiming seven times, but as it was the start of my trip and I was eager to get up and see the rest of this city I didn’t let it dampen my spirits too much, for breakfast lots of coffee please. Another pleasant surprise was during breakfast, the waitress popped open a bottle of prosseco and poured us a glass each, alcohol with breakfast....well, when in Verona!
Day two we set out to do some serious sightseeing, we started off with a visit to Ponte Pietra, a bridge to the north of Verona, the second you set foot on the bridge you are hit with the most amazing views of rolling hills. We then took a stroll
along the river past The Duomo and walked all the way along until we reached Castelvecchio. There we went inside and walked through the museum which contained artwork and sculptures from various periods of time. We then visited the Tomb of Juliet, I don’t completely understand why there is a Tomb of Juliet as Juliet was a fictitious person but thought it worth a visit anyway.
Day three in Verona and with all of the sightseeing out of the way we decided to make the most of that private balcony of ours and spent the morning sunbathing before enjoying yet more great Italian food. In the afternoon we went to the top of the bell tower opposite our hotel, the views as you can imagine were fantastic, there were warning signs up informing people that when the bells ring they are very loud. I thought we had loads of time but clearly my watch must be out as the bell sounded whilst we were standing right next to it, it isn’t very often I’m startled enough to literally jump but a bell the size of me ringing two feet away from me definitely did the trick.
had to sum up Verona in one word it would be Bellisimo (meaning the most beautiful). I literally cannot fault Verona, our time here just reinforces what we already felt, that Italy is our favourite country in Europe and I cannot wait for the next leg of our honeymoon in Venice.
There are more photos below