During our stay in Venice we decided to go on a day trip to Verona and Lake Garda. Both can be easily reached from Venice in under two hours and this was an organised excursion that took us to both places.
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Our first stop was fair Verona, home of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I didn’t really know what to expect from Verona, nor did we know what we should make a point of visiting, apart from Juliet’s balcony, so we used a tour guide to show us around and tell us about the history.
We started in Piazza Bra where the impressive Arena di Verona stands. The Roman amphitheatre is enormous and predates the Colosseum in Rome. We weren’t able to go inside on the day we visited as they were preparing for an opera, but just walking around the outside of it was breathtaking.
Our guide then walked us round to Piazza della Erbe, a beautiful square with a large fountain with a statue of Madonna Verona and the Torre dei Lamberti. This is a huge tower built in 1171 but added to over the years giving the top an unusual look. The square is very pretty and many of the buildings have intricate frescoes on the walls.
After learning about some of the history of the town our guide left us at the entrance to Juliet’s Balcony. I have wanted to see the balcony for years and I was really looking forward to this part of our day, but the crowds were unbearable! You have to walk through a covered walkway that opens up into a small courtyard. In there you can see the balcony and a bronze statue of Juliet. According to legend the statue will bring you good luck in love if you touch her right breast. You can pay to go inside the building and actually stand on the balcony but the weather was so hot that none of us fancied standing in the queue. The courtyard is also home to a small gift shop and another little shop selling embroidered items. (Top tip, they have an area upstairs where you can see the balcony with no queue at all!)
Verona is such a charming town and we enjoyed wandering along the side streets looking at the architecture and soaking up the atmosphere. We decided to have a quick lunch in Piazza Bra and it was lovely to sit under the canopy and enjoy some pizza whilst taking in the stunning view.
After lunch we journeyed to Sirmione, a little town on the southern shore of Lake Garda. What can I say? Sirmione is absolutely beautiful and somewhere I definitely want to revisit and spend a little more time. I have never seen somewhere like Sirmione before, it was like something out of a Disney fairytale. The small town sits inside a castle that is surrounded by Lake Garda and is so picturesque.
Before we went into the town we did a speedboat tour out on the lake. Our captain told us all about Lake Garda and how it has natural thermal springs underneath it which means the water feels like a warm bath. The swathes of people on the beaches proved how popular this little town is in the summertime.
Once we were back on dry land we walked across the drawbridge and went inside the Scaliger Castle fortification. Stepping inside the castle walls, it was as if we had climbed into the pages of a story book. The narrow roads and pretty buildings were so pretty! We spent some time wandering around and soaking up the sun before our journey back to Venice.
Sirmione was exactly what I picture in my mind when I think of Italian towns. I would love to go back there for a long weekend at a quieter time of year as I think it would be so relaxing.
Although it was a long day, we all very much enjoyed seeing a bit more of Italy. Our day trip to Verona and Lake Garda was lovely. I’m so glad I got to see Juliet’s Balcony – even if it was slightly underwhelming thanks to the crowds!
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