Arising very early last Monday morning, I threw on my clothes in the dark of my hostel room, attempting not to wake all other sleeping inhabitants & hopped onto the vaporetto to the train station. Having learned my lesson from my bus ride to Venice, I had been sure to make a visit to the station the day before, with Jessica, to inquire about the cheaper regionale trains to Verona.
Running roughly every forty minutes, the regionale train costs €7.60, which is far cheaper than its alternative option, which costs €23 & majoritively speaking, if you're savvy with picking your departure time, the journey duration is the same.
My ride to Verona was smooth sailing & just over an hour, however, once there, having been unable to locate affordable accommodation in town, I made the last minute decision to only stay for the afternoon & head to Milan for the night.
Throwing caution to the wind, I made a visit to the Left Luggage room & parted ways with €5 & Sir Fleming's little hand luggage suitcase, which he has thankfully lent me for the trip. Annoyingly, as you pay per bag, I was still left with a very oversized & ridiculously heavy plastic bag of, quite frankly, crap, that somehow, I have managed to accumulate, in the short time I've been back in Italy.
So off I went, bag of crap in hand, to the ticket office & bought myself a one-way ticket to Milan for the afternoon. Costing €11.65, the trains for Milan leave Verona regularly & the ticket does not fix you into a set time. Left Baggage on the other hand, gives you five hours & so, with it at that time being ten in the morning, I figured I should attempt to make it back to the station for three.
The weather in Verona was dire. Cold, wet & miserable. I remember watching Letters to Juliet & how beautiful Verona looked. Me being me, after watching any film that's set outside of England, I become immediately enamoured & start adding destinations to my travel wishlist. In reality, few places tend to live up to their onscreen beauty.
Having been unable to locate a tourist office in the station & therefore procure a map of the city, I wandered around outside, rather cluelessly, for some exaggerated period of time, attempting to work out which bus I needed to get on, in order to actually reach anything of interest. Eventually reaching a 'sod it' state of mind, I hopped on a bus destined for Piazza Bra, minus a ticket.
It had taken me long enough to pick a bus to get on, I wasn't about to faff about trying to find somewhere to buy a bloody ticket. Thankfully, no one in Italy ever asks to see your ticket (don't hold me to that, sod's law you'll now be asked) & even more thankful, it turned out Piazza Bra was the right place to be.
Jumping off right outside a tourist office, I went & grabbed a map of the city & began to locate & circle points of interest. Unfortunately, my attempts to pack in a morning of sightseeing, before speeding off to Milan, was scuppered by Verona's Monday opening hours. Both the Arena & Casa di Giulietta, along with essentially all points of interest, were closed until after one. Brilliant. Sodding brilliant.
With the rain beating down my enthusiasm & the wind breaking my umbrella, I wandered around, past the Arena di Verona, a smaller version of the colosseum in Rome, up Via Giuseppe Mazzini, passing all the shops & ended up in Piazza delle Erbe, looking at their pitiful market stalls. Wandering off to the Duomo & being bemused to find an entry fee sign, I ended up in a store doorway, hiding from the rain.
On the verge of tears, my phone dying of battery & my useless umbrella leaving me soggy, I felt tired of traveling. What was I doing here. What possessed me to give up the comfort of my beautiful home, my pink Smeg fridge, my French grey walls & my comfy wrought iron bed, to be here, standing in the rain catching a cold.
Just as I was about to throw down my bags & give up entirely, I looked to my right & there, just within sight was a rather nice looking cafe. Walking closer to get a better look, I was amazed to see the word vegana chalked onto their sandwich board outside. Could it be, I'd stumbled upon a vegan friendly eatery.
Creeping in, I fell in love with the interior. Recycled vintage furniture, exposed brick, wooden floors. All my favourites. I ordered the cake of the day, an apple tart & it was delicious. Relaxing into a seat, I plugged in my phone, whipped out my map & gave myself a pep talk. Deciding that my love affair with Verona was null & void, I decided to cut all losses, wait for one thirty, go check out the Casa di Giulietta & then bugger off back to the station.
The courtyard at Casa di Giulietta is small & not at all like it is in the film, but I really liked it & it's free entry. There is the statue of Juliet, which, it is said, if you rub her right breast, you will find new love. So, obviously I gave her a good old grope. There's a huge gate, laden with multicoloured padlocks, scribbled with people's initials & plenty of gum. Literally walls covered in chewing gum.
I sacked off paying €6 for entry into the house & having fully grown weary of Verona & the rain, I headed back to the station, via another free bus ride, picked up my bag & caught a train to Milan.