Verona. City of Romeo and Juliette, and the Opera Festival in July and August. Also home to statues of Dante and Garibaldi (of biscuit fame). Seriously, the crowds flock to see the”famous” balcony where Juliette, you know, asks WTF Romeo has gone.
Well, it’s a real balcony but alas, it’s only a story. Another without a happy ending, except for all the souvenir sellers in Verona for whom an average writer of stories in jolly old England set on their way to fortune (if not fame). However, we’d booked some rather splendid seats – the ones complete with cushions – to go and see Carmen, Bizet’s opera in French, but with laser display screens (so beloved by HIGNFY) giving you the essential ingredients in Italian and English. Four acts, three intervals and a lot of Prosecco later we emerge for a sprint to Palazzo Victoria. One important thing you can say in its favour is that it’s very close to the Arena.
All during the performance, from 20:45 until the final bell at 00:30 the sky was alive with the sort of dry sheet lightning so common in the Mediterranean. It was joined in the fourth act by thunder, rolling right around the Arena and adding to an already forbidding and gloomy atmosphere on stage. It seemed as though Carmen and her assailant’s singing speeded up, aiming to complete before the threatened rain arrived. Just as well – we arrived back at PV for a nightcap just as torrential rain caught out the last opera buffs who’d stayed to enjoy the encores.
Like the Cup Final, an amazing occasion in a magical setting. They encourage those in the posh seats to dress up (we did) but manage to offset the effect by the most abysmal toilet facilities we’ve come across in years in Italy. We’re all for conserving old buildings, but did they have to retain the Roman ablutions? Generally a disgrace.
Palazzo Victoria is perfectly placed for a stay for the Opera – underground car park, good location and all the expected amenities. Just don’t expect it to be memorable…and certainly not cheap. 380 euros a night for a small (deluxe!) room plus 40 euros a night for parking. And that was apparently the cheapest room after a hefty discount for paying six months in advance.
Hotel Palazzo Victoria Verona
…and the Verona Opera site, if you fancy it.