Why Verona is the best place for an Erasmus year

Article by David Lyons

During my time in Verona, I fell helplessly in love with Italian culture, food, people, weather and everything else you could possibly imagine. If I could choose to do my Erasmus again, there's nowhere else I'd rather go. For me, it's the perfect city. I dream one day I might return to live and work in Italy, hopefully sometime in the near future ...

Often overlooked ahead of more major cities, some think Verona is quite small. After all, it is known as "piccola Roma" (little Rome). Yet for me, this is all part of its charm. It means you can get around without buses if you’re willing to walk a bit, and there’s a cosy feel in the city when you begin to recognise fellow students and locals, something you might otherwise miss in places like Rome. Plus, it’s ideally situated near to bigger cities like Milan if you want to travel, and with Lake Garda being only 15 minutes away by train, it’s not just the city of Verona that’s on offer.

View over Verona from Castel San Pietro
If you’re searching for highlights of this enchanting place, look no further than the vast, cobbled heart of the city - Piazza Bra. You’ll find many piazze, big and small, dotted throughout Verona, and while each one has it’s own attraction, my personal favourite is Piazza Dante. Hemmed in between the walls of neighbouring Piazza Erbe and Torre Dei Lamberti, you’ll be stunned by the array of statues lining the roofs around you, with the central one of Dante Alighieri himself.

In terms of student life, University is very different, with all the exams I sat while studying being oral ones. On campus, it’s not unusual for Italians to casually go for an aperitivo (alcoholic) both before and after classes, something I found incompatible with my binge drinking notions inherited from English student life. Another advantage is the University district is only across the bridge from the "centro antico", Verona’s city centre, so you’re not too far away from the action.

Amazing hidden place in Verona
Something I’d like to have known before arriving in Italy would be more about the transport system. In Italy, you should buy all bus tickets beforehand from tobacconists and validate as soon as you board. Between 12-3pm all tobacconists are shut for lunch and you have to buy the ticket on the bus, which costs more.

Overall my year in Italy, and specifically Verona, has changed my life completely for the better. Personally, I would see my future there in some years time because the whole country captured my soul so much, I feel like it’s home every time I arrive. If I was offered a job tomorrow, I’d be on a plane out there the next day; the weather is tremendous, and the food is world-renowned.

As for the people, Italians are always curious (sometimes nosy!) about foreigners, particularly English people, so expect them to engage with you once they realise you speak their language, something you should always make sure you can do anyway!

David Lyons spent an Erasmus year studying at the University of Verona, part of his Joint Honours (European) degree in Classical Literature and English. He graduated from the University of Leeds last summer, and since March he's been working as an Internal Sales Account Manager at Robert Scott & Sons. His interests include writing, blogging, and theatre.
You can view one of his blogs HERE 

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