Verona was a Roman municipality from 49BC onwards and still has a few conserved structures from that period. I took a walk to most of them today whilst I was getting my bearings around the city.
The first example was impossible to miss as it is only a few yards/metres from my hotel. It was built in 30AD and is still in use for large scale opera and theatre productions. Unfortunately, the next performances are on 22nd (Madame Butterfly), 23rd (Romeo & Juliet) and 24th (Aida) but we leave Verona on the 21st. The Arena is the dominant feature in Piazza Bra.
There are a couple of Roman gates that are still standing – Porta Bosari and Porta Leona.
There is a Roman theatre (Teatro Romano) on the opposite side of the river that is also still in use for theatrical productions. It was built in the first century BC. Only segments of the original theatre are still standing but enough t be able to see that it would have been an impressive structure in its day.
The Piazza della Erbe is a market square that was once the forum during the Roman Empire. It features a fountain with a statue that is called Madonna Verona and was erected in 1368 – but the female sculpture that was used is actually a Roman one dating to 380AD. The piazza is surrounded by historical buildings from the 13th century.
During my wanderings, I came across the House of Juliet (Casa di Giulietta), the busiest attraction that I saw all day. People were packing the entrance ‘tunnel’ and were clamouring to be photographed rubbing the right breast of the statue of Juliet for good luck (she of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet). The museum on the site of the 13th century home of the Dal Capello family (Juliet Capulet is supposedly derived from the family name). There is a balcony where Romeo and Juliet supposedly romanced and, regardless of whether there is any true connection, tourists flock to the site.
The walls inside the entrance tunnel are ‘plastered’ with love messages. Thousands of love notes have been written on the walls but many have also been written on Band-Aids (called plasters in the UK) and stuck to the walls. And what better place could there be to leave a ‘love lock’ than at the site of Romeo and Juliet, the worlds best known love story? A pair of metal gates near to Juliet’s statue are covered with locks.
Other Shakespearean locations in the city include Juliet’s tomb and the home of Romeo Montecchi (Juliet’s lover who became Romeo Montague in the Shakespeare play). Perhaps I’ll visit them during my stay in Verona.