by Philip Greenspun

Home : Travel : Italy : Verona

View of Verona's Piazza Erbe from the Torre dei Lamberti When I arrived in downtown Verona, I asked a pedestrian for directions to the Due Torri Hotel Baglioni. Luca, a young lawyer, started to explain then said, "it's a bit complicated. Why don't I just get in the car and show you?" A few hours later, I was returning to the Due Torri on foot and got a bit disoriented in the medieval streets. I stopped Massimiliano and Veronica who walked me right to the front door.

Verona is a 2,000-year old Roman city married to an intricate medieval town, imperfectly moated by the River Adige. If you read the history of the town, it seems like one of constant violence. Gladiators fought in the Arena; Germanic tribes tried to take the town from the Romans; patrician families struggled for power in the middle ages; the Italians wrested the town from the Austrians in 1866; the Allies bombed the city; the Germans blew up all the bridges as they retreated in 1945. It seems no accident that Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet here. For me, this is the most horrifyingly violent of all of Shakespeare's tragedies. Misunderstandings that conventionally lead to comedy in fact invariably lead to someone's death.

There must have been some good times in those 2,000 years that the historians give short shrift to, however, because Verona is one of Italy's friendliest cities. It is a perfect place to spend a few days without a car or a week if you can tour the surrounding countryside and Lake Garda.
In Verona's Piazza Erbe