Verona Marathon 2016

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What would you do for love? People have been known to do crazy things in the name of love but Romeo and Juliet defined the classic idea of romantic love with their story immortalized by Shakespeare. Today, men and women mending broken hearts, hoping to find the loves of their lives, or in happy relationships flock to the House of Juliet in Verona, Italy to be inspired by the power and magic of love.

The Casa di Giulietta or House of Juliet is a favorite destination of tourists visiting Verona. We visited this beautiful Italian city for the Verona Marathon 2016 last weekend and serendipitously found out about this lovers’ pilgrimage site. Interestingly enough, people traditionally pose with the 1972 bronze statue of Juliet with their hands covering her breasts. Legend has it that touching the right breast of the statue will bring good luck and love. No, we did not pose with her like that.

The 13th century renovated house belonging to her family features the balcony where Romeo wooed Juliet. For six euros, you can go inside the house and immerse yourself in her world. The bronze Juliet stands in the middle of the courtyard with walls covered with gum used by lovelorn  and lovestruck men and women to leave behind letters and notes. More love notes and graffiti are scribbled on the walls of the passageway to the house.

We flew with Ryanair out of Brussels South Charleroi Airport and landed at Verona Villafranca Airport after 1.5 hours on November 19, 2016. A short 15-minute bus ride from just outside the airport took us directly to the main station Stazione Verona Porta Nuova for six euros per person. From the station, it was an easy and  short 10-minute walk to Hotel Gilberti.

After depositing our bags in our room, we walked to Piazza Bra which served as the expo site, start, and finish areas. The piazza was right next to the Arena di Verona, the coliseum used for opera festivals and other cultural events. I got my race bib, race shirt, plastic bag…and nothing else. Hmmm. . . I did not have a goody-filled goody bag this time.

Piazza Bra is also a Saturday market so we walked around and checked out what they had to offer.

There were several Christmas markets on the way to the House of Juliet so we stopped and checked them out on our way back.

We were already hungry so we did not make it to Romeo’s House or Casa di Romeo. A quiet dinner of pasta and chicken by one of the piazzas before calling it a night.

We woke up early to have breakfast and got ready for the race that started at 9:00 AM. The weather was cool but definitely warmer than Belgium at this time of the year so I was confident I would be okay with what I wore.

Richard walked around and took photos of a fancy Alfa Romeo parked at our hotel and the magnum sizes of the wines displayed in one of the shop windows.

The race was mostly flat and interesting with a six-hour time limit. I took some selfies along the way. They served water, energy drink, banana, and apples at the aid stations.

I crossed the finish line warm and cozy in my running outfit and posed for more photos in front of some of Verona’s historic structures. A band was playing for all the finishers and the last 100 meters was covered in blue carpet.

It was well worth to pay the extra 15 euros for the late checkout at 4:00 PM. I took a shower, got something to eat, and then made our way to the train station to catch the local Trenitalia train to Venezia Santa Lucia station in Venice.

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It was dark at 6:00 PM when we arrived in Venice. We were booked at Hotel ai Mori d’Oriente, just a few minutes’ walk away from the main station. The hotel itself was very nice; we got upgraded to a superior room. It was the walk from the station to the hotel at night that got me worried. We crossed three bridges and walked several small quiet alleys to get to the hotel. I did not have to worry walking around in the morning.

We woke up late the following morning and had a leisurely breakfast buffet. Walking around the now familiar stomping grounds of Venice brought back recent memories when we were here after the Venice and Aquileia marathons. We retraced our steps to our hotel to check out at noon and caught the bus in Piazzale Roma to Venice Treviso Airport for our Ryanair flight back to Brussels Charleroi at 5:25 PM.

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