You’re planning a romantic getaway and you’re thinking of Italy. Immediately images of vineyards, old crooked streets and tons of Fiat 500’s cross your mind. Italy is the country of ‘La Dolce Vita’. Living the good life. And those Italians know how to live. Good food, nice wine, big families and a lot of romance. The Italian men are passionate and they treat their women like true princesses. I can imagine that you would love to drag your down-to-earth guy (or girl) to this romantic heaven on earth. But where to start? Do you choose Verona or Venice? Lucky for you I’ve been to both and in this post I’ll give you the romantic ins and outs on these cities. Let the battle begin!
1. Love stories: Verona
Verona and Venice have both their own love stories. The city of Verona is an instant reminder of the love story of Romeo and Juliet as the city was the background of the story. These two lovebirds were born in Verona. To be clear: the story of Romeo and Juliet is a fictional play written by William Shakespeare in the seventeenth centruy. Shakespeare himself had never set a foot in Verona. But still the man did a great job, because Verona is now forever linked to this love story. Venice has also its own romantic story, the story of Casanova. An eighteenth century adventurer, traveller and a true ladykiller. Casanova started his career as a priest, then became a traveller, but returned home after a couple of years abroad. Here it all went downhill. He was accused of witchcraft, spent years in prison and after that he lived on the street. Broke and addicted to gambling. Not a very romantic story. That’s why I choose Verona.
2. Eye-catchers: Venice
Verona and Venice have their own eye-catchers. In Verona the place to go is Piazza Bra where you can find the two thousand years old arena that’s in the middle of the square. It’s one of the best preserved Roman amphitheatres. This is the place where 22.000 people watched gladiators fight against bulls. Nowadays the arena is used for live operas. A soprano discovered by accident that the building has a phenomenal acoustic. This is impressive, but wait until you see what Venice has to offer. The must-visit here is the world-known Piazza San Marco which is surrounded by several amazing sights. Take for instance the basilica of San Marco, a museum with a mosaic arcade, marble floors and hundreds of collected masterpieces. And don’t forget to pay a visit to the nearby Doge Palace. This used to be the residence of the lords (doges) of Venice. It holds conference rooms, weaponry fold, secret chambers and prison cells. Just because of the many sights Venice has to offer, I choose this city over Verona.
3. Streets to wander: Venice
I love wandering around old crooked streets, smelling the atmosphere and interact with locals. If you’re also into this, then you must visit Venice. This city of one big maze of crooked streets. Even with a map in your hands you’re going to get lost. But that’s okay. This city is made for wandering. Take a stroll down the colorful streets and many bridges. Speaking of bridges, Venice has many interesting ones. Take for instance the Rialto bridge. One of the oldest bridges of Venice and the only connection between the districts San Marco and San Polo. On the hot summer days this bridge is a lovers spot for Asian couple to take their wedding photos. Not very convenient, as it blocks the passing tourists. I recommend visiting the Rialto bridge at the beginning of the evening. As night falls the lights go on and Venice changes into a calm romantic spot for lovers.
But Verona has also a couple of interesting bridges. Take for instance the red brick Ponte Scaligero which looks like the set of the tv series Game of Thrones. This 120 meter long bridge connected the castle (Castelvecchio) of the Scaligero family with the city of Verona. This bridge was not so much an entrance as it was an escape route for the hated family to flee.
4. Celebrations: Venice
Both cities have their own celebrations. On Valentine’s Verona turns into ‘Verona in Love’. During this festival there are romantic activities planned all around the city. For instance throw a penny into the well of Love or immortalize your love by hanging a love lock. And when the clock strikes 6 pm the minute of kissing starts at the Piazza dei Signori. It’s romantic, but also a bit tacky. In Venice they celebrate ancient Carnaval in February. This is a huge festival where the streets are filled with parades and people hide behind beautiful masks and garnements. Unfortunately this isn’t how they originally celebrated Carnaval. It used to be a small ball with a select group of people. Today Carnaval is a big street parade. Hundreds of tourists from all over the world come to this event. Not really how it was intended, but still it’s a great thing to experience.
And the winner is…?
Even though Verona is a great old city, I choose Venice. In many ways Verona is the younger brother of Venice. Both cities offer a love story, anual festivities and great sights, but Venice gives a bit of extra. But know that Venice is also packed with tourists. So if you’re looking for more interaction with locals, then you’re better off choosing Verona. It’s a bit more quiet than big brother Venice.
What do you think? Verona or Venice?