I like to walk. I like to walk a lot. So when I found four suggested walking itineraries on the Verona Card website, I was really excited.
The second stop on Route D was Giardino Giusti, across Ponte Nuovo from the historic center and back a few blocks – I never would’ve happened upon it if not for these suggested itineraries, and I’m SO glad I did!
In 1570, Agostino Giusti, Knight of the Venetian Republic and Squire of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, laid out these gardens behind his palace with all the Renaissance charm he could muster. They were restored in the 1930′s and have been praised by Goethe and Mozart – and me!
There was no one on the road and I saw no one as I walked through the entrance. I found an attendant in a small room to the left, bought a ticket (which I handed right back to him) and walked out toward the back wall where there were large, wrought-iron gates dominated a tall stone wall covered in ivy. The guard called after me to warn me that it looked like rain. That’s ok, I told him; I like rain, too
I ducked through a small doorway to the side of the gates that was standing open and stopped, startled. Who would’ve guessed that these immense, elegant Renaissance gardens would be tucked away back here, so close to the busy tourist area??
On the left and right were finely pruned hedges but – wait! I hurried off to my right to examine the bushes… could it be…
I was so excited! I’ve always wanted to be in a maze! I hurried in, looking forward to getting lost (which was hard, since the bushes were only about thigh-high) and made it to the center fairly quickly.
Then the rain started.
I hurried back through the light drizzle toward the cover of the trees.
I hid under the sprawling branches, sitting with my back against the trunk, as the rain started making puddles in the gravel paths. I grew up in Florida – where it doesn’t rain, it pours! With thunder and lightening to boot! – so had never been able to spend time outside during a storm. I was surprised by how dry I actually was, there beneath the trees.
She was hiding from the rain, too
Looking out over the other sections of the garden, it looked like the statues were shielding their faces from the rain.
The storm let up and I made my way through the rest of the sections toward the back where there seemed to be a wall of some kind.
Looking back toward the Giusti Palace, I could just imagine it being the 1600′s and that I was taking a stroll through my private gardens…
As I approached the back wall, I saw this tower… How do I get THERE?!
A few more people had entered the garden while I was meandering toward the back, but it was still fairly empty and utterly peaceful.
As I came toward the center of the back wall there were steps leading up… to somewhere…
And a very angry face staring down from the top of the wall!
Down to my left, there was a small green sign, “Belvedere”. I had no idea what it meant at the time and actually just remembered it as I was going through my pictures for this post. Now I know that it means “Beautiful View”, which makes so much more sense, given what came after…
There were small benches hidden away on the path as it wound up the hillside. I felt like they were placed there just for me to sit and read my book for a while. (I can get quite the fantasy built up in my head in places like this)
The path continued and wound back on itself, but there was always an option to go higher.
Sunlight filtered through the canopy of branches.
I walked higher and higher and pretty soon could see the rooftops and could look down upon the manicured garden below.
The path ended as I approached the wall I had seen from below. What I hadn’t been able to see before, though, were small cutaways, most with little benches cut out of the rock where, when it began raining again for a brief time, I actually did curl up with my book to wait out the storm.
One of the stone arches didn’t have a bench, but a door!
Inside was an altar… no idea why, but I started making up all sorts of stories in my head.
Right near the altar was the entrance to the tower. The door was open… were we supposed to climb it? Or rather, were we allowed to?
I wasn’t sure, but my motto while traveling is usually “why not?”, so I started up the steps.
At the top was a small, relatively flat and uncultivated park. The grass was sparse and what there was of it was brown and dry, leaves were scattered and the few benches were of old, weary wood. But it had views!
From the top of the angry man’s face you could see across all of Verona!
I slowly made my way back down the tower steps, through the windy paths of the upper garden and into the manicured lower gardens. To my right I spied a gardener’s shed.
Ya know, I think I could be happy living in the gardener’s shed – forget about the palace!
The gardens of Palazzo Giusti are open every day of the year except Christmas, from 9am to 7pm in the winter and from 9am to 8pm in the summer. Tickets are €7 (as of June 2016).