Like people, we get to know places piece by piece.
First, they show us what they want us to see. We are tourists, looking at the face of somewhere that’s fresh out the shower, preened and perfected. We’re charmed by its two-drink hilarity and accidental arm touches. It could do anything, and we’d forgive it; pass it off as endearing and wait by the phone for its next text. It’s not the full picture but, fuck it, it’s way too pretty to look away.
In Verona at this point, you’re going to hit the obvious places.
– Arena di Verona (When in Rome, lolz. Even if you just look at it from the outside, it’s beautiful)
– Juliette’s Balcony (There’s a boob. You rub it.)
– Castelvecchio (It’s old and lovely.)
– Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore (Romeo and Juliette, two fictional characters, got married here. Also the crypt of Saint Zeno.)
You’re going to fall for it.
Then you start to uncover something new each time you see it. Like a reward for coming back, you get to know the intricacies of how it lives. The time it wakes up in the morning; its favourite place to catch up with an old friend; the drink it likes to pour after a rough day. These things are like the first time a conversation with someone new takes a deeper turn. You know what I mean – without even noticing where you’re going, you’re suddenly off the subject of ‘what you’ve been up to’ and on to what your earliest memory is, or how you got over your last break up. It’s fuzzy and warm and more than a little exciting. You feel, for a few glorious moments, that these connections are what being human really is.
Now lets take it up a notch. I want you to hit up:
– Palazzo Giardino Giusti (The most gorgeous gardens. It’s super calm here. Costs too much to get in, but you’ll let it go.)
– Head to Castel San Pietro for the views (Run up the stairs, I dare you. It makes it even more beautiful)
– Pick a public transport destination. Venice is crazy close and easy to get to, or you can jump on a bus to Sirmione, on Lake Garda (Both make exceptional uses of water.)
– See an opera inside the Teatro Filarmonico (Wiki the plot before you go, because you won’t understand a thing. But, fuck. It’s a nice thing to do.)
After that, you reach an entirely different stage altogether. All pretences are tossed to the side and you relax into each other even more. You’re more likely to go up for seconds (I’m lying. We all know that it’s thirds) on the takeaway without making an excuse about not eating lunch, and you order a wine without asking if they’re drinking first. You’re marshmallowing out. Getting comfortable. Like with people, this can uncover annoyances too, and you’ll want to tear your hair out at the fact that Italians will occasionally just close their establishments without warning if they fancy the day off – but you’re in way too deep now. They’ve seen you belly laugh and way too drunk and – worse – hungover. You got them love tingles going on.
You seem ready now. Let’s go:
– Hiking for an hour to Forte San Mattia (Bit of a mish, but the views are 10x what you saw from Castel San Pietro, mountains included. The ruins around the back are a bit lovely too.)
– Walking through the main streets and squares, but look up (The crumbling balconies are one of my favourite things about Italy. If you’re lucky, someone will have their shutters open and you can spot some of the incredible apartment ceilings. An odd thing to point out, I know, but they’re full of beams and frescos, and you’ll start picturing what it’d be like to wake up with those shutters slightly ajar, tangled in sheets with the smell of coffee in the air. Dreamy.)
– Shop in Folks, take a credit card (The shopping in Verona is generally amazing all round, but this one particular store comes with two of the friendliest owners you’ll meet. Get chatting.)
– Drink in Archivio – at any time of day (A cocktail bar open from 8am? Full. Bloody. Stop.)
Like people, we get to know places piece by piece. Soak them up