Zero waste travel: Verona
If you can't decide if you want to visit or not, you heard it here: go to Verona. This city took my breath away with the way it's nestled itself among the hills, like the prettiest postcard you've ever seen (but better). In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo tells us he'd rather die than leave Verona, because outside the city walls is only hell. Honestly? Relatable.
While I'm sure you could see the sites in a short weekend if you choose, my weekend in Verona left me wanting more. Take your time in Verona, slow down, and skip the single-use plastic and other unnecessary waste with the help of the following recommendations:
If you’re up for museums and tourist attractions, a city card is always a good way to avoid a mess of receipts and paper tickets that are both wasteful and, if you’re anything like me, you are likely to lose. Verona Card gets you access to Juliet's Balcony and Castelvecchio, and an array of other places as well. I had trouble finding any digital tickets for Verona because most websites said “Si segnala inoltre che non è necessario prenotare l'ingresso”. In other words, it’s not necessary to make reservations for the churches and museums.
I contacted the Verona tourism office about the material of the card (paper or plastic) but have yet to hear back. In Padova, the city card is paper, which is a good sign. This post will be updated once the office of tourism has answered the question.
Fontanelle are public fountains perfect for refilling a water bottle. All of the Italian cities I’ve visited have them, although how many you’ll find really depends on the place. In all honestly, Verona didn’t impress me with their Fontanelle; one I used was actually just a fountain with safe drinking water. Don’t get me wrong, it was novelty to climb half way up a fountain to fill my water bottle, but that doesn’t make it any easier for people already skeptical. Italians have a firm grip on their disposable plastic water bottles, buying them at restaurants and using them at the dinner table. Italy is Europe’s largest consumer of bottled water despite having safe drinking water (acqua portabile).
Long story short, there’s public water in Verona, but not a ton. Try and be conscious of where you end up after a few hours of walking so you can refill.
As per usual, I recommend you try the Trenitalia app for your train tickets. You can purchase tickets and view train schedules from the app and then show the ticket on your phone. That is, if your ticket gets checked (it doesn’t always happen). I used my phone for all the train tickets I needed to get to and from Verona.
Verona isn’t a huge city, and you could definitely get around walking if you wanted. I chose to use the buses, however, with my bag and to go across town so save 30-40 minutes of walking. There are bus stops everywhere, the buses are easy to use and you can pay on board. If you plan on crossing the whole city back and forth, you can purchase a 4 euro day pass for the bus, which allows you to use the bus as often as you’d like with a single ticket.
I was so excited to visit Ettogrammo when I went to Verona. I was very disappointed when I arrived to see that beginning that day the store was closed for summer holiday for the next three weeks. That being said, I spoke with a member of the Rete Zero Waste (zero waste network) who told me it was excellent. From the website:
The translation (by yours truly): "Ettogrammo is a neighborhood store with carefully sourced products and sold by weight. Like the bottega of the past. Without the limits of premade goods and without food waste. For a conscious shopping trip." So, if you need package free groceries to cook on a night in or just want to check it out, the jury is out: go to Ettogrammo. Just not in August (because you can't).
In my despair of finding Ettogrammo closed (and wondering what I’d manage to make for dinner that night without tons of plastic packaging) I walked towards my Airbnb and came across a little ethnic foods store, as the sign “Alimentari Etnici” said (not the word I would use in English). I risked it and was met with a happy surprise. Not only did this store have coconut milk and various kinds of instant ramen (my true love), there was a bulk section. The world smiled on me that day, really, because this bulk section, although unusual, had various kinds of rice, beans, and lentils for sale by weight. I was able to get produce in my own bags as well.
I can’t seem to find the address, but if you’re looking for something off the beaten path, I couldn’t recommend this place more. It’s on Via Venti Settembre, and near the intersection of Vicolo Terrà. The owner was working the register and knew the customers who also seemed to know each other. It felt like a real window into community and it’s like they say, bulk is everywhere.
There’s a Lush in Verona, Piazza Bra. As always, going to Lush alone isn’t zero waste by itself. If you happen to forget anything on your trip or lose your soap, it’s an easy way to ensure you can get (nearly) package free beauty products. For the sake of bring redundant, it’s just another resource for you. Bonus: that actual fountain I climbed up to fill my water bottle? In the same square.
Bottega di grazie
Unfortunately, my time in Verona was too short to check out this consignment store. It’s near Castelvecchio, which you might be visiting anyway as a tourist, so I’d recommend you check it out. If you didn’t know (or haven’t noticed), secondhand stores are much harder to come across in Italy than in the United States. This store has clothes for children and women. If the weather surprises you and you don’t have the right clothes for Verona, consider stopping by, and while I’m not a proponent of shopping for the sake of shopping, you may find something that suits you anyway.
Safe travels! If you’re interested in more ways to rock zero waste travel in Italy, check out the following posts: