We were rolling kid heavy, on a Saturday to see Shakespeare’s Verona, and commit great acts of statue molestation.

First thing, find a spot to feed all the mouths in tow, seven kids ranging in age from one to thirteen and four adults. We found a quaint restaurant with outdoor seating, almost everyone ordered burgers and fries, except me. I had to find the weirdest possible thing on the menu and dare myself to eat it. It was bread, tomato slices, fresh mozzarella, and a weird minced olive concoction that looked like caviar. If I had seen it first, I wouldn’t have ordered it, but I didn’t, and that’s for the best since it tasted much better than it looked. Sounds plain and bland, but it was the best thing anyone ordered that day. 

We hauled our merry band of well-fed lunatics down to the center of the city with a destination in mind, but more than willing to get sidetracked whenever the opportunity arose. And it definitely did. 

The Arena di Verona just kind of pops out at you from nowhere and there was no way we weren’t stopping for it. The line was moving quick and it just happened to be a day in which rates were discounted. We had an awkward conversation with the attendant who had to figure out which kid was old enough for a charge and which wasn’t, a mere “undici” wasn’t quite enough. 

You walk through the dimly lit outer walls through the high brick arches and vaulted ceiling, onto the sand floor of the colosseum full of light and grandiosity, it just takes your breath away. I’m pretty sure my first and only words for a significant period of time was “shut up.” Mouth hanging open, not quite sure what to point my camera at first. It’s a thing to see that words can’t adequately describe. 

We headed to the thing that I needed, not wanted, but NEEDED to see, the famous statue of Dante Alighieri. Verona has been widely known as the land of Shakespeare, with the balcony of Romeo and Juliet, but Dante spent a significant period of time there. While in exile, Dante was there from 1312 to 1318, and he wrote part of The Divine Comedy there, making several references to Verona in the work. Had to see it. 

Getting there was a neat trick, it wasn’t quite tourism season, but the streets were still packed with visitors, sometimes elbow to elbow. It took a minute to find it since using Google Maps on the narrow roads where signals bounce off the buildings can be confusing, a common Italian problem.

Arriving in the Piazza dei Signori was pretty fantastic, there were sculptures lining the plaza and Dante was the center of it all. There was a medieval market set up around the statue that housed metal workers, sculptors, jewelers, bee keepers, craftsmen and women from many trades. We spent a lot of money and time here. 

Our final stop was more obligatory than anything else, when you’re in Verona you have to visit the balcony that is rumored to be the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. You walk through a tunnel filled with writing of the names of lovers and all that romantic crap. The place is completely packed, the elbow to elbow from the streets of Verona sound like a damn good time in comparison. 

Juliet’s statue is on the back wall of the property, legend (or the City of Verona’s tourism office) has it, that if you touch the breast of Juliet, you will find your one true love. It is so crowded that you have to Hunger Games your way to the front of a line and don’t you dare hesitate to jump up there, or 10 other people will take your spot. If you are claustrophobic, it’s a traumatic experience. 

We checked all the boxes, and hit all the spots, but there is definitely a lot of meat left on this bone to return over and over again, till we’ve seen everything Verona.


To see more from Michelle Bir, click here.