. Shakespeare placed star-crossed lovers Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet
in Verona for good reason: romance, drama and fatal family feuding have been the city's hallmark for centuries. From the 3rd century BC Verona was a Roman trade centre with ancient gates, a forum (now Piazza delle Erbe) and a grand Roman arena, which still serves as one of the world's great opera venues.
In the Middle Ages the city flourished under the wrathful della Scala clan, who were as much energetic patrons of the arts as they were murderous tyrants. Their elaborate Gothic tombs, the Arche Scaligere, are just off Piazza dei Signori.Venice
. Venice is the consummate magician. It makes marble palaces
vanish into silent fogs, labyrinthine calli
(streets) disappear at the whim of moody tides, and can even turn the most pedestrian of people into fantastical, masked creatures. Just like its world-famous Carnevale, Venice thrives on mystery and awe, from the secret passageways that riddle Gothic Palazzo Ducale, to the esoteric powers of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, to the inexplicable radiance of Titian's Assunta altarpiece.