National Pavilion UAE - The day I fell in Love with Verona | by Mohammed Al Serkal
  • The day I fell in Love with Verona | by Mohammed Al Serkal

    Waiting by the Vaporetto station at 10am for a water bus (widely known as a Vaporetto) to arrive, myself and Adel bounced ideas on where to go if we miss this vaporetto, because the train will leave the platform by 11:03. By 10:20 a vaporetto finally arrived, and we jumped in and hoped to reach there on time, Valentina (an Italian intern working at the UAE pavilion as part of the Venice internship program) was waiting with the train tickets. At Last we have arrived to our stop, Ferrovia stop that is, where the train station was, we were running towards the steps where Valentina was waiting for us, a quick hello and left.

    Arriving at the TreinItalia stop, we checked our tickets and went to find our platform, just 5 minutes before the departure of the train we finally sat and had a sign of relief. The train was spacious and most importantly comfortable especially that each ticket only costs 7.50 Euros which is a steal! But this is the normal rate if you are going in this normal speed train. Another option is available, but it is more or less the same.

    On the train we exchanged stories of what to expect, what to see and most importantly what to eat! I was famished mostly because I didn’t have my breakfast which I tend to forgot due to myself always rushing things. After one hour and forty minutes, while stopping at various points like Padova, Vicenza, and San Bonifacio we finally reached the city of Verona.

    The train stopped, after sitting for this long I wanted to go down, to breathe, I missed the weather of Venice, the acute air that rushed with you as you were walking along the canal. This has turned into a need, and I rushed to leave the train. Leaving the platform we talked about how strange or Italian strano it will be to finally see cars! Or streets? Or even buses, this was definitely amusing. As we went out and finally be on the streets it felt normal, which was un normal, why? Because I have seen sea water for almost 2 weeks non-stop why haven’t I felt weirdly about it, but noticed later that it was the aftershock of my body realization to the streets and its surroundings. We took the bus and finally reached our first stop to visit the Castelvecchio.

    Walking towards the castle, Verona welcomed us with a cool breeze, the colorful buildings smiled as we glanced upon our arrival, everything was pleasant, and everything was beautiful. It was as if a dozen colorful books melted on its building and colored the life of Verona. It made me happy, Verona changed my mood, and Verona decided that it could make you a different person, literally.


    Looking upon the castle, it is not small, it is not what you will expect. It has this beautiful color to it, a dark mahogany infused with red blocks, built in 1355 you are for sure in history. Unfortunetly in Mondays it is closed until 2:00pm, and we arrived there at 1:10, we couldn’t waste any time to we moved to our next destination. The Arena di Verona.

    Strolling into the streets of Verona, we saw more colorful buildings, more bicycles and a lot of people. Then we came upon the street that led us to Arena Di Verona, a Roman amphitheatre build in AD30. Reaching the Arena my eyes lit, it couldn’t believe the history that I have come across, this is a piece of art. The Arena flourished with rich history, it truly explains what ancient is, the arena was extraordinary.


    As we went inside to visit the arena, it was surreal, I felt like a warrior heading into battle, more like Spartacus on his way to a defeat or victory. The arena gave you a sense of calmness as well, it gave you power, it showed you how strong it was. It was an intimidating structure, but gentle. Walking through the steps we went higher and higher as we saw most if not all of Verona. Verona waved with a flow of wind, whispered once again, made us smile again. It truly was an experience I will not forget.


    Leaving the arena I couldn’t but thank the city of Verona for preserving such a masterpiece, such a piece that will hopefully inspire others to explain, to write, to draw, to act, to live, but most importantly to react.

    By this time we were hungry and we had to eat, thanks to our lovely intern Benedetta (an Italian intern also working with us in the UAE pavilion as part of the Venice internship program, who is also from Verona!) she told us to visit Bella Napoli pizzeria.

    Each dish was spectacular, each resembled some sort of depth in taste, every dough of pizza rolled was an experience at this place. Definitely recommended, and it is very well known by the locals of Verona for its quality and it’s pricing. The pizza meter is a specialty, where they offer a 40cm or 60cm pizza of your choice and various pasta dishes as well as meat, chicken and pork. This day couldn’t get any better. But it did.

    Coming back to the centre, where the street of local and international brands are we came across a gelato place well known as well for its texture and quality, a pure Italian Gelato called Venchi, from Silvano Vench with the orgins from Turin. The taste of my Venchi dark chocolate gelato was like no other, it was the taste of pure cloud like cushions of weightless chocolate, the tastes that may prevent you from thought. Venchi is a true gelato place and non other can even reach to its level, except for my love to Grom which is another story by itself.

     It was time to visit the infamous balcony of Juliet, the foundation of women in all movies of all genres. She was the pure soul that many have attempted to reach but haven’t even got the meaning of her own precious name. Julliet’s balcony was high, it was big and glorious. Her balcony as seen below is was also quite grand, of established foundation. The balcony lured her, pondering her decisions towards the love of her Romeo. There was also a statue resembling Juliet’s stature, she stood solemnly, probably thinking. There is legend which was surrounding this structure, if you place which ever hand on the right side of her bosom and silently muttered how you felt towards your love, then if will come true. Obviously this has never worked as many has loudly said while reading the explanation on the sign board, it gave you this whimsical element to the complexity of love. How people would grab a bosom to wish for love, I bluntly believe that this myth is a pure hoax for the hungry tourist. If you think otherwise, don’t mind me and grab it and wish for that love to come to you.


    We then went to visit the shops and the Duomo, a one of a kind church, an old but colorful church, one of the most famous in Verona. Then off to Ponte Pietra which was built in 100BC, it was rebuilt in 1957 with original materials after the bombing of the German army in the WWII. The bridge served as a pathway or access to the Arena in the east bank. The bridge was superb, it was quiet from one side and waves rushing on the other side, it was different than what I have seen from bridges. It really was interesting having two different sounds from either side. I enjoyed standing and seeing most of Verona, I contemplated living here, seeing myself grow old in the land of colors, and life. I wanted to stay in this culturally infused city, a city where ancient history thrives. A city where all the people are genuinely kind, it was this day that I fell in love with Verona.


    As we were heading back to Venice, I knew I was going home, although my love is Verona but unlike the myth surrounding Juliet’s story, I need to come back to reality, to my dear new home which is Calle Bosello in Venice.

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