Verona – the city of Romeo and Juliet…
I fell in love with Verona the minute I stepped foot in that delightful old town. The old coliseum, the cobblestone streets, the street-side cafes in the main piazza instantly charmed me. The city reminded me a lot of my own home-town, Brasov and it felt like home – or like I could definitely live there.
Verona’s orderly but laid-back feel came as a surprise. When we arrived in the train station, people were queuing and waiting for the next taxi to come along and pick them up – no fights, no skipping of lines. Our taxi took us to the place where we thought we were staying. He pulled over and then accompanied us to the large and elegant door of the apartment building. He wanted to be sure that he delivered us at the correct address… how nice! We had the right landlord but not the right location – we found out that there was a second location for our B&B, closer to downtown: B&B Ad Centrum di Fraccaroli Fabio. The apartment was simple and the pillows could have used some more feathers but, all-in-all, it was O.K. The breakfast was included and it was simple but good. The best part about the B&B was its location: right around the corner from Arena di Verona, famous for its elaborate opera shows and the Piazza Bra, enticing passers-by with lovely cafes and store-fronts. We caught a glimpse at the sophisticated décor used in the opera shows and learned that only select artists get to perform inside this special venue.
However, if you didn’t get the chance to get a ticket to the show, you could enjoy the music from across the street, while sipping the popular sweet orange spritzers the locals consumed on the restaurant patios in the piazza. I chatted with our waiter and found out that the lovely Italian singer we were overhearing was Pino Daniele – our waiter’s favorite artist and fellow Napolitano! The waiter disappeared for a moment across the street, in the direction of the coliseum, and returned proudly with a ticket stub as a memento for me. Such as sweetheart! Sadly, Pino Daniele passed away not long after we heard him, in January of 2015…
One evening, the rain surprised the opera-attending crowd with a solid downpour during the first act. Luckily, we were already comfortably seated on a terrace, under cover. As the rain started pouring down, the crowds started pouring out of the arena and people ran for cover to the restaurants, which filled up quickly. We had two extra spots at our table, so we invited a German couple to join us. The gentleman spoke some English and told us about his other passion, football, for which he enthusiastically traveled all over the world to watch – as far as Japan and Brazil.
At some point during the downpour, the opportunity to sell ponchos and umbrellas to the in-dire-need spectators created a fist-fight among the Asian and African street merchant groups operating in Piazza Bra. One of them grabbed a chair from the patio and tried to thrust it towards the enemy. Luckily, except for a black eye, no other damage was done and the commercial activities resumed as per usual.
We toured the city in one of the double-decker busses leaving from Piazza Bra. We wanted to quickly get an idea of places we would want to later on see in more detail. After that, we walked a lot and simply enjoyed the quiet and quaint city.
Our next stop, Venice!