Italy: Enchanted by Verona Part 1

Travel Date : 23rd June 2013

Location: Verona, Italy

{ Previous Post – Italy: Day in Water City Venice }

*We were in Mestre, Venice and drove from there to Verona.

Why Verona?

When we were planning on where to go when we arrived in Europe, we listed Rome down as one of our must-go places, especially with its Colosseum as one of the main attractions for us.

Unfortunately, we soon realised that we wouldn’t be able to fit that city into our itinerary due to time constraints. We had wanted to take an overnight train during one of our weekend trips but discovered they were already fully booked weeks before. Other modes of transports were not feasible for our Burghausen to Rome return trip due to excessive travelling times and/or costs. Another alternative was to visit it during our last week but we would have to forgo other plans that we had already made for those days.

Therefore, Verona’s Arena became our replacement for Rome’s Colosseum when we realised we could fit in Verona during our Italy weekend trip, right after visiting Venice the day before. This is because Verona is much nearer to Germany compared to Rome.

From Venice to Verona

The journey to Verona from Mestre was a smooth one, except for a small hiccup when we were looking for a parking spot near our destination. Our GPS had indicated that our destination was a ‘Restricted Zone’  but we didn’t think too much of it, until we accidentally entered into the ‘No Vehicle Zone’ and even ended up in the wrong direction on a road!

Fortunately, we quickly veered off and soon found a vacant parking lot about 500 metres away from the Arena. We paid for our parking via a nearby parking meter and started the walk towards our destination, coming across stalls selling souvenirs and snacks. We didn’t really stop to buy anything as we were expecting more stalls to surface later on anyway.

There was no fear of getting lost as there was a huge direction board along the way showing us the location of the Arena. We could also easily see where the crowd was heading towards.

Exploring Verona

We soon arrived at the city square of Verona, Piazza Bra,where cafes and restaurants were lined up on one side, the Arena on the far end and a garden right in the middle.

{Cat} : The entire city square with its historical buildings made us gave a little exclamation. It was quite pretty and for a moment, I felt as if we were back in time to medieval times . We gave each other a happy nod. Fortunately, we decided to come here instead of spending one more day in Venice.

Dar then spotted a tram ferrying tourists around for sight-seeing and he wanted to get on it too. Unfortunately, we had limited time left for the journey so we had to decline his request. He had already taken quite a number of train rides throughout our Europe trip so that should already have been precious experiences for him.

Ancient Arena

Walking towards the Arena, my first impression was that it wasn’t as huge as I had expected it to be, though I understood it was supposed to be a smaller version of Rome’s famous Colosseum. Still, it has an impressive structure and significant enough to be known as one of Italy’s famous landmarks.

Italy Verona Arena

We then searched for the entrance and paid the entrance fees to get inside. Upon entering into the lower areas of the arena, we could see that parts of the building were already worn off due to ageing. Nevertheless, it was these imperfections that reminded us how long the Arena had existed. It was in fact erected in the 1st Century AD and is the world’s third-largest amphitheatre to survive from antiquity.

{ Admiring the Stone Walls and walking up the steps }

Inside the Ancient Arena

{ Spectacular Amphitheater }

After climbing up the stairs and entering the amphitheater, we were ‘wowed’ by what we saw! The Arena looked like what we had expected, based on what we have seen about the Colosseum from movies and books. As the place is currently used as an event venue for Opera, there was a stage in the middle with many seats around it.

These somewhat spoilt the ‘ancient feel’ but by ignoring them and just focusing at the ancient structures, we could still appreciate its majesty when it was at its full glory.

We started exploring the place while looking for good spots for photography, trying to avoid getting most of these modern objects into our viewfinder. The weather was quite hot so the heat did wear us down as we moved around the area, which involved a lot of climbing.

{ Aerial View of the Piazza Bra }

Upon reaching the top of the Arena, we could get a good view of the Piazza Bra. The people looked very tiny. That’s how high we were!

Piazza Bra from the top of Arena

We then went back into the interior of the Arena and explored a little more, before it was time for us to move on to the other parts of Verona. Read Part 2 of our explorations in Verona, where we visited a Clock Tower for the highest views of Verona.

[ History ]

The Verona Arena (Arena di Verona) is a Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra in Verona, Italy, which is internationally famous for the large-scale opera performances given there. It is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind.
The building itself was built in AD 30 on a site which was then beyond the city walls. The shows and games staged there were so famous that spectators came from many other places, often far away, to witness them. The amphitheatre could host more than 30,000 spectators in ancient times.
The round façade of the building was originally composed of white and pink limestone from Valpolicella, but after a major earthquake in 1117, which almost completely destroyed the structure’s outer ring. Nevertheless it impressed medieval visitors to the city.(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verona_Arena)

Next Post: Enchanted by Verona Part 2