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Verona

About midway between Milan and Venice lies Verona, the setting for Shakespeare’s plays Romeo and Juliet and The Two Gentleman of Verona. As it should be, Verona is one of the most romantic cities in the world. It’s not merely that you’re reminded everywhere of the Shakespeare connection. (The Capulet house, with Juliet’s famed balcony, is a big tourist attraction, though its authenticity is dubious.) It’s not just its gorgeous setting, surrounded by mountains and the River Adige. And neither is it just because of its magnificent Roman ruins and its mellow medieval and Renaissance buildings. Put all these things together, and you get a town that has an incredible amount to recommend it. The city is full of music, and its piazzas and streets are particularly lively during the annual summer opera festival, held during July and August in the Roman Arena. Opera lovers should make this a high priority (but reserve early, a year in advance, if possible). During one visit, we attended a performance of Tosca at the arena one night and a performance of the ballet Romeo and Juliet the next night at the smaller – but equally atmospheric – Roman amphitheater. Verona is 100 mi/164 km east of Milan and 74 mi/120 km west of Venice.

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