Verona wasn’t originally in our minds when we started tossing around possible itineraries for the trip. As we cast around for likely landing places within a reasonable striking distance of the Dolomites, though, the idea of Verona arose. When we remembered the Shakespearean plays set in Verona, we got a bit excited. And when we read about the Roman arena and the open air opera performances, we really started to think about it seriously.
But it was H. V. Morton’s description of the city in his wonderful book, A Traveller in Italy, that clinched it for me. His delight upon first seeing the pink marble of Verona was infectious. When I read this paragraph, I couldn’t imagine a trip to Italy without a stop in Verona:
Arriving in the early afternoon, I saw the city flushed with warm light; I saw the Adige flowing swiftly beneath the bridges, enfolding, in its reminiscent Venetian curve, squares, towers, and palaces; I saw the red campanili of many churches and, praise God, a main street closed to traffic. Think of it: a street from which the motor is banished; a street with no sounds but the delightful chatter of the Veronese, the echo of their feet upon the marble pavement, and the music of an aria floating pleasantly from a shop that sells gramophone records. In my first flush of pleasure I felt like echoing John Evelyn when he saw Verona three hundred years ago, ‘here of all places I have seen in Italy would I fix a residence’.
— H.V. Morton, A Traveller in Italy
On our first full day in Verona, we walked and walked and walked. We ate gelato, stopped for cold drinks, and walked the streets of pink marble.
We visited Juliet’s house, knowing full well it wasn’t her house. It was well worth seeing anyway, if only to see the graffiti-covered walls, painted every inch with notes from modern lovers, star-crossed and otherwise.
In the busy Piazza delle Erbe, we watched as Hyla took a cooling break in the waters of the piazza’s central fountain. Days later, after we had left Verona, we learned that the statue of a woman that graces the fountain is a Roman sculpture dating from 380 AD.
There was hardly a street or a corner where we didn’t see something that made us smile, even when our feet were aching, and we were sweaty and parched and hungry, and a bit bewildered by the time change and not knowing how to ask for stamps in Italian or where to find a public restroom. No matter. We were already falling in love with Italy.
Thank you, Mr. Morton.