Today, we awoke early to travel from Milan to Verona where we will spend the second portion of our trip. I relished the three-hour drive, watching the white capped alps shadow the rustic Italian countryside. Upon arriving, we took a few hours for lunch and then began our first activity in Verona, a historical walking tour. After thirty yards of walking, we approached a massive medieval archway with a clock and tower. After passing under the impressively preserved structure, we continued into a cobblestone square; at the center, a Roman-style arena far better preserved than the legendary coliseum in Rome itself.
We took in the sites of the square while our guide secured our entry to the arena. I stood in the center, awestruck by the methodical design of this city, admiring the view down each street (pictured). Our guide explained that roads in Roman-built cities only run north-south or east-west and each turn at 90 degrees. Obviously, the roads all lead to the arena and forum, yet all extend outward with structured delineation. We finally entered the arena and filed through the gladiatorial underbelly and through the magnificent entrance, greeted by a comfortable mix of modern and ancient style seating. We took fifteen minutes to explore the open seating area. Naturally, I immediately climbed to the top to admire the broad view of the ancient architectural wonder. After the arena tour, we continued through the city, examining the fusion of Roman, medieval, renaissance, and modern architecture. We eventually reached the castle and walked the same path that the leader of the city would have fled on in the event of an attack. Connected to the castle lies a bridge that allows for superb views of both sides of the city and even the alps. Our tour guide drew our attention to the different colored bricks and explained that when the Nazis left Verona in 1945, they spitefully blew the bridges. However shortly thereafter, the resilient townspeople fished the bricks out of the river and rebuilt.This anecdote allowed me to realize that the history of Verona encapsulates the history of Europe; from Rome, to the middle ages, the renaissance, Napoleon, and Hitler, all played a significant role in the development of this enthralling city. Can’t wait to continue the adventure tomorrow!