Tag Archive: what to do in Verona


San Zeno Basilica

San Zeno Basilica

We just got back from our trip to Israel last night…it was an amazing trip.  We saw and did so much!  I didn’t have a chance yet to go through photos or keep up the blog. I learned from my failed attempt to do a post a day for our European road trip that keeping up while traveling isn’t realistic. So stay tuned for future posts on Italy, France and Israel!

This post is about the Basilica of San Zeno: a must see if you are in Verona. We went to find San Zeno Basilica at the recommendation of our Italian host.

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It was founded in the 5th century to house the remains of San Zeno, Verona’s patron saint.

There were hardly any tourists here; we almost had the place to ourselves! It’s a lovely, peaceful church. St. Zeno  is Verona’s patron saint because he was credited with converting the people of Verona to Christianity.

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San Zeno was born in North Africa.

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Many of San Zeno’s sermons survive today.

Baptismal font

Baptismal font: it’s more than 1000 years old!

Andy

The church was rebuilt a few centuries later and was consecrated in 806 AD

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The church was later destroyed by Hungarian invaders!  Rebuilding began again in 963 AD.

The altar

What you see in the photos dates from the more recent reconstruction in the 12th and 13th centuries!

San Zeno

Statue of San Zeno.

Down in the crypt

The crypt dates back to the 10th century and contains a sarcophagus with the remains of St. Zeno.

the remains

According to tradition, this crypt was where Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet were married!

The courtyard

San Zeno died in 380, but he is still honored and remembered here.

Our Italian host also gave us the tip that Verona’s best ice cream could be found next to the basilica of San Zeno, so of course we had to try it!

Verona was a wonderful surprise for us…we had no idea what a fascinating city it is before we spent a week there.  You can read more about our stay in Verona here:

https://globalnomadfamily.com/2013/07/24/day-7-opera-at-the-1st-century-bc-arena-di-verona/

https://globalnomadfamily.com/2013/07/20/verona-so-much-more-than-juliets-balcony/

Verona is also a great city to use as a base for exploring other amazing cities.  We did a day trip to Venice (stay tuned for that post).  We also visited Lake Garda and Vicenza.  You can see the photos here:

https://globalnomadfamily.com/2013/07/13/day-four-picnic-at-lake-garda/

https://globalnomadfamily.com/2013/07/15/day-five-the-unesco-world-heritage-town-of-vicenza/

So, for anyone visiting northern Italy, don’t forget lovely Verona!

The Arena of Verona

My crazy boys in front of the Arena:)

Experiencing an opera at the Arena di Verona is a must-do.  The Arena is 2000 years old, and still in use!  I know from our visit to Lake Garda that 166 Cathars were captured in Sirmione, taken to the Arena di Verona, and burned at the stake in 1276…I’m glad to experience a performance at the Arena for a happier occasion!! We were advised by our Italian host to buy our tickets months in advance, so we purchased tickets to see Verdi’s opera Aida.

Sets for the opera.

Sets for the opera.

These photos were taken on our first day in Verona (Saturday).

Gulp!

Gulp!

The Arena is in Piazza Bra, inside the main gate as you enter Verona’s historic district. Next to the Arena is the neoclassical Palazzo Municipale.
Creeping on someone's wedding!

Sneaking a photo of someone’s wedding!

Boys just wanna have fun...

Boys just wanna have fun…

There’s a park in the middle of the piazza.

An eight year old's idea of a funny pose:)

An eight year old’s idea of a funny pose:)

We came back the next day (Sunday) to see the opera Aida.  We came a little early to see more of this lovely city.

Castelvechio Bridge

Castelvecchio Bridge

View from the bridge.

View from the bridge.

Castelvecchio  Castle was built in the 14th century.  It was both a residence and a fortress, including the brick bridge you see above.

The castle is now a museum, apparently with a good art collection. We just peeked in.

Castelvecchio Castle is now a museum, apparently with a good art collection. We just peeked in.

The clock tower.

The clock tower.

We continued wandering down the street, and came across this lovely little church.

We came across this lovely church called Chiesa San Giovanni in Foro.

Chiesa San Giovanni in Foro.

It was so quiet and peaceful...we were the only people there.

It was so quiet and peaceful…we were the only people there.

We continued to wander through the city.  See more photos of Verona here:

https://globalnomadfamily.com/2013/07/20/verona-so-much-more-than-juliets-balcony/

At last it was time to go and claim our seats up in the nosebleed section of the arena.

At last it was time to go find seats up in the nosebleed section of the arena!  We rented cushions for 3 Euros apiece.  Advice: bring your own cushions!

We rented cushions for 3 euros apiece. Advice: bring your own cushions!

The performance started at 9:15pm.

The performance started at 9:15pm.

Verdi's 1871 opera set in Egypt...a love triangle.

Verdi’s 1871 opera…a love triangle set in ancient Egypt.

Aida is a captured Ethiopian princess who is in love with Radames, who struggles to choose between his love for Aida and his duty as the Pharaoh's celebrated military commander.

Aida is a captured Ethiopian princess who is in love with Radames.

Radames struggles to choose between his love for Aida and his duty as the Pharaoh’s celebrated military commander. The story gets even more complicated because the Pharaoh’s daughter loves Radames and is promised to marry him…but Radames loves Aida.

The story gets even more complicated because the Pharaoh's daughter loves Radames and is promised to marry him...but Radames loves Aida.

Let’s just say it has a tragic but spectacular ending!

Nate didn't make it all the way through, but the rented cushion came in handy.  The performance ended around 12:30 am...we were surprised it finished so late!

Nate didn’t make it all the way through, but the rented cushions came in handy.

The performance ended around 12:30 am…we were surprised it finished so late. It was well worth it.  Nate was a real trooper and walked sleepily back to our car. Another great day!

Stay tuned for posts about our day in Venice, staying in a beautiful restored farmhouse in the French countryside, and having an AMAZING day yesterday seeing Mont Blanc in the French Alps!

Juliet's Balcony.

Juliet’s Balcony.

Verona’s “claim to fame” for attracting tourists is being the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Now that I’ve experienced Verona for myself, I find it tragic that most tourists “do” Verona in a few hours, rushing in to take photos at Juliet’s balcony and then moving on to the next city!!  Verona really surprised me with how incredibly beautiful the city is, and how much there is to see and do here.  Before I tell you more, here are our own tacky tourist photos of Juliet’s House.

Check out this stern warning!!

Check out this stern warning!!

Look at the background behind us. What is it?

Look at the background behind us. What is it?

Although the house is  a major destination for tourists, it actually has no connection with Shakespeare’s characters….who were fictional and therefore never existed:)

Love messages, written on top of chewing gum shaped into hearts...yeesh!

Love messages, written on top of chewing gum shaped into hearts…yeesh!

The house itself is old, but the balcony was added in 1936.  The house was named Casa Guilietta (Juliet’s House) to attract tourists.

Couples add these locks as a symbol of their undying love...

Couples add these locks as a symbol of their undying love…

The balcony overlooks a small courtyard with a statue of Juliet. There is a huge amount of “love graffiti”. Visitors leave notes, as well as write their initials and those of their loved one in chewing gum… which they stick on the walls of the courtyard…risking a year’s imprisonment or a hefty 1039 Euro fine!

More love graffiti...

More love graffiti…

We asked our host if it was worth it to see the inside of Juliet’s House, and he told us that most people in Verona are annoyed by the “hype” of Juliet, the congestion of tourists near the “shrine”, and the fact that until recently, an employee was paid to answer love letters to Juliet from lovesick people from around the world. So we took his advice, and didn’t go inside.

Here's what our son thinks of all the lovey dovey stuff!!

Here’s what our son thinks of all the lovey dovey stuff!!

Apparently, if you pay the 6 Euro entry fee you will see a small collection of Renaissance frescos, and the bed from Zeffirelli’s 1968 movie, but not much more. We spent the money on gelato ice cream instead…a much better choice in Nate’s book!!

This was so interesting Nate gave them a coin!

This was so interesting Nate gave them a coin!

Ok, now we’re done with the annoying typical tourist stuff.  Come see the real Verona with us!

Look for the close up in the next photo.

Pizza del Erbe. Look for the close up in the next photo.

Verona was once one of the most powerful cities during the Roman Empire. The historic center is amazingly well preserved, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Beautiful balcony

Beautiful balcony!

Just another amazing statue!

This is the Lion of St. Mark, symbol of Venice.

Fun souvenirs!

Fun souvenirs!

Andy

This lead to another lovely square.

Verona was the home of Dante Alighieri, writer of the Divine Comedy. You can read more about Dante’s tumultuous life here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dante_Alighieri

That's Dante!

That’s Dante!

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Verona was also the setting for two more of Shakespeare’s works: The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Taming the Shrew.

I wanted to sit here!

Nice place for a meal!

The scenic mausoleum of Arche Scaligere houses outdoor tombs of the Scaligeri lords who ruled Verona for hundreds of years.

Arch of Scaglieri

Arch of Scaglieri

statue

The architecture is stunning!

So, for those of you following along with us, this was Day Six of our European road trip.  I hope you enjoyed learning about Verona.  Coming soon will be posts about seeing an opera in Verona’s Arena, built in the 1st Century BC, as well as our trip to Venice.