Our 1999 trip to Italy involved just about every medium-sized city between Milan and Venice except one. We didn't want Verona to feel maligned so it was the first place we returned to on this trip. This is one of the city gates. As you can see it was an overcast, rainy day. Verona is best known for the stupidest possible thing they could be known for, that being Romeo and Juliet. While the Capulet and Montague families were loosely based on actual families the characters themselves were fictional but that hasn't stopped Verona from cashing in on it. The real shame is that Verona has quite a lot of real attractions.
The most famous is the extremely well-preserved Roman arena. While the façade is almost completely gone, the main structure is in remarkably good shape.
The arena, once used for gladiator fights among other things, is now most frequently used as an opera venue. It can hold 22,000 spectators for the summer opera performances.
Climbing to the top of the arena, is a tiring but worthwhile pursuit resulting in the best views, both of the arena and the rest of the city. In retrospect it's one of the best deals around too. It costs about 1/5th of what the Colosseum in Rome charges as an entrance fee.
Elsewhere in Verona is the relatively unimpressive Santa Maria church. In front of the church is where the Della Scala family decided to erect their own private mausoleum/cemetary. The Della Scala family ruled Verona from 1260 to 1387 and appear to have spent most of that time building impressive funerary monuments.
The central square of Verona is the Piazza delle Erbe. Originally the site of a Roman forum it is now a lively marketplace selling fruits, vegetables and low-grade souvenirs. The building at the end of the square is the 17th century Palazzo Mafei surmounted by assorted Roman gods.
This archway leads to the north out of the Piazza delle Erbe. It is notable for that whale rib (yes an actual whale rib) hanging from an iron chain over the passageway. Legend has it that it will fall on the 'first just person' to walk under it, leading one to question the value of being just if it means getting crushed by a falling whale rib. For the record, we all walked under this with no serious head injuries resulting. Also for the record, several popes have walked unscathed through it as well. Go figure.
Here is the square in front of the Roman arena. A pleasantly green area considering it is within the city walls. We spent part of the morning and the afternoon of our first day in Verona before moving on briefly to Padua and then to Venice.