VERONA, ITALY

One of Italy’s larger cities, Verona sits on the River Adige in the country’s northeast region.093

Among the events that attract over three million tourists to Verona annually is the opera festival in the Verona amphitheatre, aka Arena de Verona. We will have much to say about the latter.

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So let’s get to it. Verona’s amphitheatre was built in the year 30, and could host somewhat more than 30,000 spectators in ancient times (but these days somewhat less, perhaps because humans are a bit heftier today than then). It is located in the Piazza Bra, Verona’s central real estate. After the Roman Coliseum and a lesser known structure in southern Italy, Verona’s amphitheatre is our third largest extant architectural legacy surviving from ancient times. But it is certainly *the* most well preserved. (If folks will say the same about me at that age, I shalll be gratified.)

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The amphitheatre is best known for the numerous operatic and other musical concerts held there. It is the world’s largest opera establishment, visited by over 600,000 spectators every year. Having fallen into disuse, the amphitheatre was renovated with all new acoustics in 1913, and has been in regular use ever since.

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Street signs in Verona clearly indicate that the Arena can be reached from entirely opposite directions (if you’ll only set your mind to getting there). Well, this is Italy, after all, where all roads lead not only to Rome, but to the Piazza Bra Arena, as well.

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You can’t live you life on the fence, people like to say. Well, this personage says you can, and has been doing exactly that for a long time, now. (If you can’t tell whether it is man or woman, look a little closer. At your age, you ought to know the difference by now.)

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This cutie white poodle was supervising operations from a shady spot at Verona’s open market (“bazaar” in other countries).  Italians have a thing for white poodles; you can see three more in our Venice coverage.

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Italy has some impressive gates. The Porta Borsari of Verona is one of the oldest, dating back to the first century of the Common Era, if not earlier. The Via Postumia passed through this gate, which was the city’s main entrance. A small restaurant is today situated beneath and adjacent to the gate’s arch; this accounts for a slightly more active influx of visitors than the Porta Bosari might otherwise receive.

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No account of Shakespeare would be complete without some mention of Romeo and Juliet, and neither would our tale of Verona. For Juliet herself had her home in this very city. That is, playwright Bill modeled Juliet after an actual family and homestead of Verona, while two other of his plays also see their action here. Juliet’s home and legendary balcony can still be seen there in all their tragic simplicity.

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A bronze statue of Juliet stands likewise adjacent to her house. Throngs of tourists delight in passing a gentle hand over her now shopworn right breast; this is said to bring good luck to all who are not too squeamish or prudish to participate in the ritual.

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But what about Verona’s hotels? (I hear you asking.) A remarkably impressive interior supplements the supremely convenient location of Verona’s Hotel Palazzo Victoria. As its President Marcello Pigozzo reports of his youth, you can while away the afternoon “dazing at the Palazzo Victoria hotel through the ancient Roman gates of the Porta Bosari”. (But you may suspect, as we do, that he meant “gazing”, not “dazing”.)

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In the year 2000 the city of Verona was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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