Verona, in Latin, signifies a “highly sophisticated metropolis.” This storied urban center is nestled at the southern base of the majestic Alps, enveloped by a tranquil, sinuous river with an exquisite S-shaped curvature, while its architectural blueprint exudes a sense of coherent harmony and meticulousness.
An age-old city, nearing the realm of “flawlessness,” beckoned me when I first ventured into the enchanting realm of Italy, all due to the unanimous acclaim of my fellow denizens. Verona has long stood as a bastion of military fortitude, serving as a pivotal nexus linking Italy and Europe through a network of railways and highways. Referred to as the “Gateway of Italy,” its accessibility knows no bounds, rendering it effortlessly accessible to globetrotters from afar. Locals assert that Verona reigns supreme as one of Italy’s most ancient, resplendent, and aesthetically arresting cities. After several visits, I have come to conclude that the city’s true essence can be aptly encapsulated by the phrase “refined delicacy and elegance.”
In the 1st century AD, Verona was meticulously established in proximity to the Adige River, originating in the heart of the Alps. To this day, the central thoroughfares of Verona retain the intricate network structure hailing from the era of ancient Rome, while the city itself is adorned with enduring architectural marvels spanning epochs—the likes of amphitheaters, colosseums, grand theaters, cathedrals, and monuments—unfolding the rich tapestry of antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance.
At dusk, traverse the Peter Stone Arch Bridge, a structure predating China’s venerable Zhaozhou Bridge, and ascend to the castle that stands in defiance across the bridge. From this vantage point, a panoramic vista of the city unfolds before your eyes. This fusion of antiquity and modernity is encapsulated by the embrace of the snow-capped Alpine peaks, while numerous churches and towers seemingly dance within the realm of perception. In a particular corner of the city, an unanticipated “mushroom cloud” of smoke gracefully ascends, merging with the heavens, only to cast its reflection upon the tranquil waters where wild ducks serenely glide. Thus, a moving tableau, painted with the harmonious hues of the sky and water, is crafted, seamlessly blending motion and stillness.
Verona’s meticulous and harmonious urban planning endows its streets with an air of order, concord, and aesthetic splendor. Commerce thrives within its confines, positioning it as a prominent hub for the distribution of wine, fruit, and marble. The city’s industries primarily revolve around textiles, machinery, railway equipment, and gastronomy. The excellence of its urban environment engenders genteel deportment among its denizens. In comparison to Verona, Rome appears steeped in antiquity, Milan emerges as excessively sprawling, Florence teems with congestion, and Venice exudes opulence to an exorbitant degree. If European cities were to be measured against a standard of “perfection,” Verona would undoubtedly stand infinitely close to that ideal.
As the sun descends, seek solace in a tranquil establishment and savor a glass of Amarone red wine hailing from the Valpolicella region of Verona. Its robust and opulent essence evokes a taste that encapsulates the very annals of this ancient city’s history. The unique local grapes, intricate brewing techniques, and protracted maturation process, in conjunction with the cultural tapestry woven by elegant architecture and the realm of opera, conjoin to establish red wine as an emblematic cultural emblem of the city. After years of maturation, its flavor mellows, acquiring an ever more exquisite character.
Situated within the confines of the world-renowned region renowned for its red wine production, the culinary offerings of this city can be imbued with the essence of this crimson elixir. Delights such as red wine-infused roasted meats and wine-steeped dumplings grace the palate. For the first time, I discovered that the Veneto region, which houses Verona, is not solely celebrated for its renowned cornmeal-based dishes, but also for its harmonious marriage of gastronomy and wine.
As the sun sets, casting a pale pink hue across the sky reminiscent of the backdrop in the “Gone with the Wind” poster—evoking a classical grandeur—one traverses the sparsely populated Baicao Square, only to find the heavens shrouded in darkness. Amidst the night, opulent boutiques shimmer brightly, their meticulously adorned interiors bathed in resplendent artificial illumination. These establishments overflow with an array of exquisite and seemingly “superfluous” treasures—Chinese garments, ornate furniture, delicate tableware, vibrant blossoms, aromatic teas—invoking a sense of awe. Opera and love intertwine within the fabric of Verona, as it is also the cherished “birthplace” of “Romeoand Juliet,” the two star-crossed lovers immortalized by William Shakespeare.
Verona’s connection to Romeo and Juliet is deeply ingrained in its cultural heritage and draws countless visitors from around the globe. The Casa di Giulietta, or Juliet’s House, is a popular attraction where tourists flock to see the famed balcony where Juliet is said to have declared her love for Romeo. The house has become a symbolic shrine for lovers, who leave heartfelt messages and declarations of love on its walls. A bronze statue of Juliet in the courtyard serves as a symbol of love and attracts visitors seeking luck in their romantic endeavors.
The allure of Verona extends beyond its architectural marvels and romantic associations. The city hosts a world-renowned opera festival, the Arena di Verona Opera Festival, held in the ancient Roman amphitheater. This open-air venue showcases stunning performances of classical operas against the backdrop of the historic setting. The festival attracts opera enthusiasts from far and wide, who come to witness the seamless fusion of art, history, and natural beauty.
Verona, in all its grandeur and refinement, offers a unique blend of ancient history and contemporary elegance. Its meticulously planned streets, architectural wonders, cultural events, and culinary delights converge to create an experience that transports visitors to a realm of timeless beauty. Whether strolling along the Adige River, exploring the city’s historical landmarks, or indulging in the flavors of its famed wines and cuisine, Verona leaves an indelible impression on the hearts and minds of all who have the pleasure of experiencing its magnificence.