It is impossible to ignore the fact that my beloved Verona is recognised as the City of Love. It is a title which we don’t take lightly. Ultimately, we are talking about one of the universe’s most powerful forces, the most noble of feelings, the most profound of impulses in our beings and the preferred subject for art throughout history.
Love is something that is hard to define and even harder to grasp, it is such a huge and powerful element that words often fail to do it justice. As a young Angelina Jolie said in the film Playing by Heart:
"Talking about love is like dancing about architecture"
There is a place, however, where no words are needed to describe love, a place where you can breathe it in the air as you walk the streets and squares, hidden away in alleys of rare beauty, in a stolen kiss above Castel San Pietro, in a glass of wine enjoyed whilst gazing into the eyes of a loved one, in a silent sight beneath Juliet’s Balcony.
Welcome to Verona, the city of two star-crossed lovers in Shakespeare’s tragedy!
Despite the fact that historical sources claim that the great Bard never visited Verona, it is still the city where he set his great love story, Romeo and Juliet, drawing inspiration from the newly rediscovered tale of two noble lovers, written at the start of the 1500s by Vicenza-based writer Luigi Da Porto.
Even though the story is fictional, it is still full of details that match real life and which we can see and touch in Verona. Talking of touching, let us begin right away with the statue of Juliet: as you pass the house in Via Cappello (the former residence of the Cappelletti family, who Shakespeare renamed the Capulets) it is said to be good luck to touch the right breast of Juliet. Whilst we are here, we can pop over to the home of the Montecchi, or Montagues, a typical mediaeval house not open to the public but which is known as Romeo’s house. On the front, there is an inscription in memory of the lovers:
"Oh! Where is Romeo? Tut, I have lost myself; I am not here. This is not Romeo, he's some other where.
But love is everywhere in Verona, not just in tragic tales of the past!
Verona owes its reputation as the city of love for more than just these two stories of young lovers who died too soon. Love is everywhere in Verona: the city centre, Torricelle, the rolling hills that encircle the city, and the wider region give us unique and distinctive sights, perfect for a romantic weekend soaking up the stunning sights.
From the magic of Lake Garda to the scenery of the Lessini mountains, from stunning Soave to the vines of Valpolicella, via the little villages of the plains, every part of the province is packed with stunning sights to fall in love with. Because in Verona love is deep and all-embracing: it is a love for history, art, culture, traditions and beauty. Love lies in the hospitality of a hotelier who looks forward to welcoming you, in the blue sky of a spring day, in the heart of a restaurant chef serving you a big bowl of pasta, in the colours of the landscape as seen from high up in the Giardino Giusti, in the passion of the artists who entertain millions of spectators every summer from the stage of the Arena with performances of opera's most famous arias.
If you want to fully experience the romantic atmosphere of the city, what better time than Valentine’s Day to treat yourself to a weekend in Verona? Indeed, every year, to mark the patron saint of lovers, Piazza dei Signori is decked out for the Verona in Love festival, an event celebrating love with many events, stalls selling artisan products, illuminations and a special season of romantic films. And if you want to make your dreams come true by getting married in the city of Romeo and Juliet, you can!
Everything is possible in romantic Verona: thanks to the “Sposami in Verona” (Marry Me in Verona) initiative, couples from all over the world can tie the knot in one of the city’s famous locations linked to the story of Shakespeare’s lovers.
Believe me: Cupid loves firing his arrow into the sky above Verona and the risk of falling in love is always very, very high!
It could be falling in love with a person, a view, a work of art or a fine wine. Who knows?