My favourite place: Verona, Italy

In the April 2017 issue of BBC History Magazine, Paul Edmondson selects Verona, Italy as his favourite place. History Extra caught up with him to find out more

The statue of Juliet, sited beneath her famous balcony © Getty

When did you last travel to Verona and why were you there?

I was last in Verona in June 2016 when I attended a Shakespeare seminar hosted by the university on Romeo and Juliet and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. We were treated to performances of both plays and to an evening of dance inspired by Romeo and Juliet. But I also managed to see Carmen in the Arena which made it feel like one of the greatest shows on earth.

 

Why do you love the Verona?

It is large enough, but compact, and manageable on foot. As you walk you are aware of the city’s layers of foundation and influence: Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance. Then suddenly you’re close to the riverbanks with those wide vistas across the hills.

 

What top three sights would you recommend people visit there, and why?

The church of San Zeno is not central, and easy to miss on your first visit. But it’s worth devoting time to enjoy its many treasures and charms. The exquisite Renaissance Guisti Gardens can easily offer half a day of relaxation (with impressive views over the city). The Arena is best experienced during a performance. You’re sure to pop in and see Juliet’s balcony whether I recommend it or not.

 

During what period of its history would you most wanted to have visited this location and why?

For me, Verona is always a Renaissance city. I’d like to have walked there across Europe with Thomas Coryat in the early 1600s. We’d have made sure we met the local writers and artists.

 

Where else in the world would you most like to visit and why?

Much more of Italy – but Pompeii most certainly. I’d like to walk among its streets, see its frescos, and feel I can imagine what life was like there.

 

Paul Edmondson is Head of Research for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

You can read more about Paul's experiences in Verona in the April 2017 issue of BBC History Magazine - on sale from 30 March

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