After a long semester of not really going anywhere, I finally got the chance to go on a few day trips – three (Verona, Florence, & Genoa) in four days, to be exact! Read more of the first part of this three-part “series” to find out where I went in the first stop of fair Verona, where we lay our scene, as well as a few tips on getting around and what to see when you’re crunched for time!
With exams coming to an end, I finally had the chance to see a bit more of Italy! Since Piacenza is in the heart of so many places to go (i.e. Parma, Bologna, Florence, Venice, etc.), it’s pretty easy to hop on a train and go on a day trip.
With a few days to kill while one of my friends’ friends was visiting from the US, we ended up going on three day trips in four days to Verona, Florence, and Genoa, which was pretty exhausting, but very much worth it. For reasons of length and my own sanity, I’ll be breaking up Day Trip Mania into three parts to talk about each city individually!
Travel Tip #1: If you’re planning to travel around Italy, I highly recommend downloading the Train Italia app. It doesn’t have the greatest user interface, but it’s really useful in looking up train times and prices so you can plan accordingly without having to go to the train station yourself if you don’t have a computer nearby! (if you do have a computer, you can just hit up http://www.trenitalia.com/)
Stop 1: Verona, Italy
The first place we went to was Verona. Our train was from Piacenza to Verona Porta Nuova, which took around 3 hours and 6 minutes due to a change at Milano Lambrate with a 30-minute “layover” (is there a term for this for trains??) – tickets were €16.25 both ways, making the trip €32.50 for tickets in total. This was the cheapest fare – prices can get into the €30 range, based on what kind of train you’re taking.
Travel Tip #2: If you’re looking for the cheapest trains, click on the “Regional” option instead of the “Frecce” option. If you’re looking for the most comfortable trains, do the opposite. Regional train tickets can be purchased in advance, but then must be validated on the platform before you enter the train, and it’s basically a “first-come-first-serve” seating arrangement, so there’s no guarantee you can sit with the rest of your party if you’re traveling in a group. These trains also tend to have longer travel durations and depending on where you’re going, you might have one (or more) changes along the way.
Frecce trains are faster, are usually more direct, and give you assigned seating, so if you book them with your travel group, you should be able to sit next to or at least near each other as long as you book early enough. These tickets don’t need to be validated because you have an assigned seat.
For more in-depth train tips (because tbh trains in Italy are just as confusing and backwards as everything else in this country), I found this website to be very helpful!
After our lovely just-over-3-hour ride, we walked to the Centro Storico, which is basically the main historic center of the city (the literal translation is “Old Town”). This took about 18 minutes (0.8 miles), and was a pretty straightforward walk. If you don’t have Google Maps or the ability to access it, there are signs on the way pointing you where to go. If you need to look for some kind of landmark to orient yourself, head towards the Arena di Verona, which is their little coliseum smack dab in the center of town.
The first thing we did (after eating, of course) was go to Casa di Giulietta, or Juliet’s house, where we checked out the balcony from Shakespeare’s famous Romeo & Juliet, which *ahem* is up for speculation since Shakespeare never actually went to Verona (this is also up for speculation, but Shakespeare was one shady dude), but I digress.
You can apparently wait in line to go up to the top and get a photo op there, but it was too damn hot and we had no patience, so I was content with just taking a photo from Romeo’s viewpoint down below.
Also in the courtyard is a bronze statue of Juliet, whose right breast you can rub (yes, I said that right) for good luck in finding your true love, although the statue I saw was probably a replica of the original as the original statue was damaged due to too much breast-rubbing action.
It’s pretty hard to get a picture by yourself rubbing the statue (if you are so inclined) due to all the tourists running up to grab their own pictures, so I just gave it a quick smack (I need all the luck I can get) before scurrying off.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Letters to Juliet, you probably remember the scene where Amanda Seyfried’s character is looking at all the love letters on the wall and finds the letter that kicks off the whole movie…
This isn’t a real thing anymore, which I was really disappointed by/bitter about. Apparently, it used to be a thing, but due to the damage the wall sustained from all the different forms of adhesion used to stick the letters on the wall (tape, gum, etc.), the Verona city council banned sticking notes on it, and you can be fined €500 if you’re found sticking anything to the wall now – womp!
Since I’m not sure if true love is really worth the €500, I had to be content with sticking my letter in a little red mailbox placed in the courtyard right outside of the gift shop. Luckily, what the film did get right is that there actually is a Juliet Club, which was started in 1972, although the idea of the letters dates back to the 1930’s, when a man by the name of Ettore Solimani, the then-guardian of Juliet’s tomb, began collecting letters left at her grave and replying. The Juliet Club as established today is a nonprofit cultural organization where you can actually send your letters (by mail, email, or via mailbox, as I did), and you might even get a reply. I wrote my letter on a little index card on the train and didn’t leave a return address, so I might have to email/mail another one in if I actually want to get a reply (again, I need all the advice I can get, you feel?).
After our brief visit to Juliet’s crib (MTV, where you at?), we basically just wandered around the little streets. Verona is really picturesque (I guess most of Italy is, though??), and there are some great photo spots along the bridges that cross the Adige, which is the 2nd longest river (after the Po) in Italy and happens to run through Verona. I think we ended up on Ponte Garibaldi, walked across the river, and then walked straight on towards Ponte di Castelvecchio.
After walking across the Ponte di Castelvecchio, we ended up going into the Museo di Castelvecchio, which is a medieval castle-turned-museum that now houses various paintings, sculptures, and drawings, mainly from the Romanesque period of Verona. Tickets were €6/each, although they have reduced prices for groups of 15+ people, for the elderly, and for citizens of the EU who are currently in school.
Aside from all the art, the coolest thing about the museum was that you could actually go outside and go up flights of stairs to explore the courtyards and the castle, which had a great view of the city. My extra self could just imagine the medieval version of myself running dramatically through all the various hallways of the castle as my ruby gown flared out behind me, trying to hide away and escape some kind of arranged marriage to a duke probably double my age. Anybody else ever do that? No? Just me? Ok.
After thankfully not falling down all the stairs in the castle, we basically just ended up walking around some more around the streets of Verona and made our way back towards the general direction of the train station. As I mentioned earlier, it was hot as heckie, and at that point I was pretty ok with just taking it easy toward the end of our little trip.
Overall, Verona is beautiful, and I would definitely say that although I’m sure there’s a lot more to do than we did, I was content with just spending a day there. It was pretty tourist-y, which is good if you’re an American and don’t speak much Italian because basically everybody speaks English (which kind of bummed me out because whenever I would try to speak Italian they always responded in English… *sad trombone noise*) and because everything is labelled really clearly, so you know where to go.
Although we didn’t check out the interior of the Arena, I wasn’t too upset because it saved me money and I’ve already kind of seen the real deal in Rome, so I was fine with just checking out the exterior. Even with my bitterness at Letters to Juliet, Casa di Giulietta was still really cute and I got to tap the boob for luck and leave a letter.
I was skeptical at first, but I think that boob tapping stuff really works, because at the end of the day, I really did find true love…
Although it was no Christopher Egan, it was still pretty sweet. 😉🍦
- Train Tickets // Trenitalia
- Florence for Free // “Freccia-Whata? Understanding the Italian Train System”
- Hotels.com // “11 Fun Facts About Juliet’s House in Verona”
- The Telegraph // “Verona Commissions Replica ‘Juliet’ Statue After One Too Many Brushes with Tourists”
- No Sweat Shakespeare // “Juliet’s Balcony”
- Juliet Club // Write
- Museo di Castelvecchio // Home