Last updated 9 November 2020
Rain drums down on the old bridge, its brickwork shiny with reflected lights. A steady ribbon of colourful umbrellas passed along one side, as tourists make their way across the river.
I stand still, umbrella-less, staring across at the old town, water dripping from my hair and beading on my leather jacket, taking in my first view of touristic Italy.
After being based in Trentino and the quiet mountain town in the Dolomites, a bustling little city like Verona is a bit of a shock. Even in the rain, the historical centre of Verona is crowded. Umbrellas are on sale everywhere, and restaurants display their menus in English as well as Italian. It’s all a bit overwhelming after quiet Mezzocorona.
We cross the old bridge, wander through the narrow streets, and take refuge in a restaurant. Our waiter speaks perfect English, but we pretend we don’t and order pasta and wine in our basic Italian. The carbonara is delicious with a peppery bite, but we look around skittishly, still uncertain of our surroundings.
Braving the rain again, we find the old arena with the ‘gladiators’ outside. The costumed actors shock me a little, and I feel self-righteous disapproval set in, especially when I notice a few wearing thermal underwear under their armour. The historian in me also begins questioning the style of their weapons and I quickly walk away towards the opera house, where we find nothing but more rain and tourists.
Already, I find myself tiring of all the Romeo and Juliet references – Shakespeare was English (obviously) and there’s no records of him ever visiting Verona. It turns out Verona doesn’t agree with my studious side. Perhaps I’m not a true romantic after all.
Despite that, it’s a pleasant day. We both get completely soaked (we should probably have bought an umbrella from that nice street hawker after all) but manage to navigate the crowds and catch a glimpse of the beauty of the city. If I ever find myself close by again, I’ll stay in the city for a couple of days, and discover the Verona behind the tourist centre.