Ah, Venice. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere in the world. I got completely lost so many times as I wandered through its maze of narrow little streets totally devoid of cars. Every canal looks different, and I wanted to take a photo every time I crossed one of the city’s countless adorable bridges. With all its canals, Venice is kind of like Amsterdam, but way more romantic.
If you wander among the canals long enough, eventually you’ll find yourself in St. Mark’s Square, a beautiful, spacious public square where pigeons almost outnumber people. This is where most of Venice’s biggest tourist attractions are located, including St. Mark’s Basilica, St. Mark’s Campanile (the basilica’s bell tower), the Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower), and Doge’s Palace.
If you have at least a few days to spend in Venice, you should definitely take a day trip to Verona. This beautiful city is famous for being the setting of Shakespeare’s most romantic play, Romeo and Juliet. It’s only about an hour and a half from Venice by direct train, so it’s easy to do as a day trip. The #1 tourist attraction in Verona is Juliet’s house, which is said to have belonged to the Capulet family in the 13th century. You will have to pay a fee if you want to stand on the famous balcony where Juliet was serenaded by Romeo, but the courtyard that the balcony overlooks is free to enter (and consistently packed wall-to-wall with tourists).
Inside the courtyard stands a bronze statue of Juliet, which is constantly mobbed by tourists at all hours of the day. It’s supposed to bring good fortune to those who are unlucky in love if they rub her right breast. Therefore, it’s almost impossible to snap a photo of Juliet without somebody grabbing her boob. As soon as one person lets go and steps away, someone else scrambles up, claps their hand onto her breast, and poses for a picture. It’s one of the most bizarre traditions I’ve ever seen. Some of the gropers clearly don’t even want to molest poor Juliet, they just feel like they have to.
Shakespeare aside, there are actually lots of other worthwhile attractions to see in Verona. Admittedly, I knew nothing about the city before I visited, and I was quite pleasantly surprised by it. For instance, I had no idea that the Verona Arena existed. It’s a huge Roman amphitheatre built in the 3rd century A.D. Doesn’t it look just like the Colosseum in Rome?
After admiring the Arena, continue walking for a few minutes and you will soon come to the Piazza delle Erbe, the city’s most important public square.
Just a few more minutes of walking and you will come across the lovely Ponte Pietra, a bridge crossing the Adige River. Cross this bridge and you will immediately find yourself facing a set of steps that lead up to the Castel San Pietro. This is the view you’ll see when you reach the top of the steps:
“Fair Verona” indeed!
Another great day trip from Venice is to one of the islands in the Venetian Lagoon. There are three small islands in the lagoon — Murano, Burano, and Torcello — but the most interesting one is definitely Burano. You’ve probably seen pictures of the bright, multi-coloured houses lining the streets and canals of the island. Burano just begs to be photographed over and over. Look at how gorgeous these colours are:
Strolling among these colourful houses was a great way to spend my last day in Europe. And Burano is only a 45-minute boat ride from Venice’s Fondamente Nove vaporetto stop, so it’s super easy to get to from Venice. (It is pricey though, at 7.50€ for a one-way ticket, but this is Venice after all.)
And just like that, my Eurotrip is over! I feel like I blinked and three months went by. Coming home after travelling is always hard, but I comfort myself with the knowledge that Europe will always be here for me to return to, again and again.