Verona’s Roman sights and Juliet’s balcony provide plenty to do on a day trip from Venice. Part 2 of our top tips for a city break with teens
Who went, where and when: Nancy and her sons, Nicholas 16 and Edward 14, flew Easyjet from London Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo, October 2013
For Part 1 of our top ten tips for a family trip to Venice: where to go, what to do and best buys click here
After two full days of walking and sight-seeing we woke to a rainy-looking Venice and decided to go out of town. So we caught a train to Verona – and spent a blue-sky day in the sun just an hour away.
Verona with teenagers
The Arena is a Roman amphitheatre nearly 2,000 years old right in the middle of Verona. It’s five minutes by bus from the train station. (Buy your bus tickets inside the station, it took us a while to work this out).
Piazza Bra is buzzy and colourful and from here we set off up ancient Via Mazzini with its designer stores to Piazza Erbe. This has been a market almost since Roman times but disappointingly the stalls were full of touristy bits and pieces on the day we visited. So we kept on walking in search of lunch. In a quiet street we found a lovely old-established joint with dark wood panelling and a glass case full of tramezzini. We ate lasagna with artichokes, Bolognese and tiramisu, sitting alongside dapper local businessmen and couples. The loo was the first hole in the ground we’d encountered that week.
After lunch we rambled on and paused for thought with Dante.
We passed Torre dei Lamberti the tallest tower in Verona that dates from the middle ages. There used to be many more of them as tall towers were a symbol of a family’s power and wealth.
But we completely missed a trick here. Visitors can go to the top via a lift and stairs for spectacular views of the Alps. The tower is at the corner of the courtyard of Palazzo della Ragione which was once a law court and has a beautiful Renaissance external staircase. We missed it. Walked right past. Oh well, next time. But we did come across an archeological excavation in the middle of the road.
Apparently it’s an on-going investigation of the remains of a Roman gateway to the city. You can see it on Via Cappello on the way to a famous celebrity home….
According to legend and Shakespeare this is where Romeo wooed Juliet. Sadly it’s doubtful whether Romeo, Juliet or Shakespeare ever set foot in Verona but the eponymous balcony draws crowds from all over the world. It’s all a bit of a fudge: in the original play Juliet appears at a window – the balcony was decorative license added by later directors and artists. The building itself is an old inn that once belonged to the Capello family (Capello/ Capulet – sounds similar). The pretty little marble balcony was added in the early 1900s to satisfy all the tourists who flocked there. Never mind – it doesn’t stop thousands of people visiting and even leaving messages to Juliet.
From here we headed back to Piazza Erbe for hot chocolates and iced tea in the sun outside the stylish Filippini.
Then we walked back through the winding old streets to the Arena.
It’s open to visitors during the day. We clambered right up to the top of the amphitheatre. It is vertiginous.
This amphitheatre was built to seat pretty much the whole population of Verona when gladiators and Christians were the main attraction. Nowadays the audience arrives in evening dress, well the ones in the posh seats do, for a night at the opera.
It is not a place for vertigo sufferers. I don’t – but I still found walking around the terraces (steep, very narrow) a bit daunting. The boys loved it! (Don’t think I’d take young children..)
After cooling off in the breeze at the top of the amphitheatre, taking in the mountain view and watching the skies cloud over we headed down to Piazza Bra. To Emanuel’s in fact, for the best ice-cream of the trip.
By the time we got back to Venice it was dark. The ride home along the Grand Canal by night was magical – definitely a Must Do in Venice.
Venice with teenagers
For Books and DVDs set in Venice click here
Nancy and family arranged their hotel in Venice via Booking.com. They offer a ‘best price at time of booking’ guarantee, the option of free cancellation on most rooms and no booking fees.
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