Earlier this year when I booked my trip to Palermo, the bustling capital of the Italian island Sicily, I opted for the cheapest deal which just happened to included 7-hour stop over in Verona. Would this be a value for money trip visiting two parts of a country on one flight ticket, or would I be cutting it too fine with less than a day to explore Verona; the setting of one of the world’s most famous love stories?…
To Fly or Not To Fly?…
On Wednesday morning, the day of my flight to Italy, I woke up at 3.20am (the time my bus to Stanstead Airport was due to depart!) honestly believing I would miss my flight. The doubt was so intense, for a brief moment I debated if it’s even worth me getting out of bed! I’d over slept my 30min ‘power nap’ by 3hrs – my body’s way of saying ‘Kai, you need to rest!’ If I was going to do this trip I had literally just a few hours to get packed AND be at the airport boarding gate via a coach – this was cutting it closer than I’d ever chanced!
I thew the ‘haven’t decide yet’ pile of clothing into my cabin suitcase (because typical me, thought I could make up my mind on the final selection and finish packing after having a nap)! Even when I got to Victoria station for a 1.5hr coach journey to the airport, the factors where against me; the 40 minute wait for the next coach would get me to the airport in time for me to wave my flight goodbye to the plane, my bus ticket becoming invalid 1 hour after originally booked for, and there being no other transport options at that time of morning to get to the airport for my 6.10am flight (I thought of the taxi option, but really, who does that unless on a project where ALL travel expenses are covered?!)
‘You’ve missed your flight Kai, never mind‘… Yet another part of me thought, ‘go for the coach ride since you’ve paid for your bus ticket’!
And just as well because an earlier bus started boarding shortly after, and when I settled on to my seat I realised I realised I’d got the flight time and boarding time mixed up – earning me an extra 30mins which made all the difference to arrive in the nick of time… Palermo via Verona for lunch – the odds would actually favour me!
Arriving in Verona
I’d previously shared on Twitter my planned stop over in Verona for a few hours, and much to my delight I received a response with precise directions and recommendations from Jenny @MissLeyMeeks; a self-confessed travel addict!
At the airport however, I had a brief dose of self-doubt as to whether or not to venture into town due to what appeared to be a foggy and gloomy day. Perhaps it’d be more productive for me to set up shop at a nice cafe in the airport and get some work down. However the limited options of appealing food choice in the small arrivals hall, and flash back to my English class reenacting the famous Romeo & Juliet scene, quickly made me opt to take a gamble to head into Verona… I walked out of the airport with a mission in mind – forget finding Romeo (I’ve already found mine), it was Juliet I was after this time!
As directed, I took the airport bus shuttle to Verona Porta Nuova train station (6 euros each way). From there jumped on a city bus (tickets 2.20euro available at a Tabacchi inside the station, however tickets can also be purchased from the bus driver) and I got off at Piazza Bra. Despite it being wet and dreary, the weather wouldn’t cloud the excitement and surrealism of being in Verona, closer than ever to finding Juliet…
Get the AeroBus Shuttle Bus to Verona (15 – 20minute journey) 6 Euros one way
Get any buses to Piazza Bara / ARENA (11, 12, 13, 51, 52) 2.20 Euro one way
The Verona Arena (Arena di Verona) is an ancient Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra, built in the 1st century A.D, and is still in use today. It is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind, dominating the Piazza Bra area surrounded by bars and restaurants.
Jenny shared in her recommendations;
“A couple of hours here is amazing! It’s 10 Euro to go inside the amphitheatre – but it’s mighty impressive just walking outside! Juliet’s Balcony is only 10 minutes away too!“
I spotted heart symbols along the way which indirectly reassured me I was on the right path to one of William Shakespeare’s most famous romantic settings; Juliet’s balcony.
I set myself a little hashtag mission #FindingJuliet to make getting to Juliet’s Balcony fun and interactive on my social media platforms. What I didn’t however realise is that there’s actually a brass statue of Juliet within the famed courtyard, so I completed my mission in a traditional way said to bring good luck; cupping Juliet’s breast (typical Italians!)
The House of Juliet Museum is located in a residence of Medieval origin belonging to the family of Cappello, the inspiration behind Capuleti, the nobel family nameWilliam Shakespeare’s Juliet. Since the early 1800s Juliet’s has been a place of pilgramage for travellers. I didn’t go into the house which is a museum with a cover fee, however I did indulge in a pic of two, dedicating my completed mission of finding Juliet, to the 15yr old book worm in me; the one who found self-expression through words, the one who’s favourite subject was English so she could lose herself writing stories, the one who read classics such as Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and imagine herself as the main protagonist! This is for YOU Kai because that girl is still in there somewhere inside!
Time for Tea… or Italian Coffee!
Back to the airport
I followed the exact same route back, though this time a little tempted to stop for a spot of shopping (shhh, our secret… I’m in Italy after all!)
If you’re looking for a more relaxed place to visit as an alternative to Venice, situated an hour away, consider Verona… The city famed as the setting for William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet… And other untold love stories of its visitors.
- Budget airlines (including Ryanair and Easyjet) fly direct from London-Gatwick, London-Stansted, to Villafranca Airport also know as Catullo Airport Verona.
- A shuttle bus service connect Verona’s main railway station, Verona Porta Nuova to Verona-Villafranca Airport. A single journey costs €6 and travel time is 15-20 minutes. The service runs from 6 am to 11 pm every day with a frequency of 15 minutes during daytime hours. Tickets can be bought from machines at the airport’s bus stop, which is outside the Arrivals Terminal, or directly from the bus driver.
WHERE TO STAY
Airbnb offers a wide range of short stay accommodation options with locals, from a private room to renting an entire apartment. Use my code to get £25 off your first booking anywhere in the world CLICK HERE!
Are you following my journey on Twitter?…
So worth leaving the airport to check out Verona if you have some hours to spare… I even had time for a coffee break and treat! Thank you @MissyLeyMeek for the suggestions – I’ll give a mention in my blog post later! https://t.co/i3dTdcbXQf#FindingJulietpic.twitter.com/V43i0HfaJT
— Lets do Lunch Network (@Letsdolunchnet) March 7, 2018
I’ll be sharing lots more from my Italy trip… Stay posted!
I’d love to know your thoughts and suggestions – please share in the comment box below!
Previously published on my other platform Let’s Do Lunch