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Destinations · Europe · italy · Verona · Essence ·

Essence

Author: Anothertravelguide.com0 COMMENTS

Essence

Thanks to its strategic position at the crossroads of northern Italy's largest trade routes, Verona was one of the most prominent cities of the Roman Empire. Even today it comes second only to Rome in terms of still-visible signs of those ancient times. In fact, calling it an open-air museum of architecture wouldn't be far off the mark. The oldest building still standing in Verona is the Roman Theatre, built in the 1st century BCE and now home to Verona's jazz and Shakespeare festivals. Also still functional is the Ponte Pietra; finished in 100 BCE, it was the city's first bridge to cross the Adige River. Another bridge was built during the Roman Empire, but it was destroyed by a flood in the 4th century.

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Because of this romantic atmosphere laden with ancient legends and tales, Verona is often compared to Rome, albeit a less anxious version. Upon closer inspection, increasingly more differences appear, however, such as in the vicinity of the Verona Arena: built for gladiator fights, it is now home of the Verona Opera Festival every summer, and even though a man in gladiator garb may try to coax you into taking his picture, this is nothing compared to the usual hysteria and crowds milling about Rome's Colosseum. And as befitting a city with a population of about 265 thousand, Verona is easy to discover – something best done by taking long walks or bicycling.

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And of course, Veronese are completely unlike Romans. As the locals are fond of saying – “Italy is not all the same”. Romans are loud, and in possession of a real Mediterranean temperament; if you've agreed to meet at 10 AM, to them that can just as well mean 11:00 or even 11:30 AM. Rome is chaos, whereas in Verona, thanks to its historical legacy (when Napoleon signed the Treaty of Campo Formio in 1797, Verona came under Austrian rule), the way of life is distinctly Austrian-tinged. Everything takes place on time, and life is much more organized.

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Consistent with an urban centre lying on a crossroads, Verona has historically been very culturally diverse; with its prominent diasporas of Brits, Germans, Canadians, Americans, etc., such is the case to this very day. The attraction of the place is easy to understand – a more strategic setting for the enjoyment of life is hard to imagine: right at the foot of Verona is the Valpolicella wine region; a forty-minute drive and you're in the Alps; an hour and a half – and you're in Venice; two and a half – you're in Milan. And then there's Vicenza, Parma, Ferrara... Compared to Verona, few other cities serve as such a convenient hub for so many great road trips and nearby places of interest.

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