Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Verona, more than Romeo and Juliet

We had a lovely stay in Verona. I arrived around 8.30 p.m. and it was still very warm. Martin met me, and we drove to a parking house, left the car there and walked over the 'Ponte Nuovo del Popolo' into the historical centre of the city. We were first heading to our room which Martin had booked by Airbnb (first try), so I was quite excited when he directed me to the main square, Piazza delle Erbe, and pointed up towards windows, just below the roof. Wow, an old house overlooking the piazza, not bad. It is lovely to stay on the top floor, it is just that it was five stories up and no elevator! What don't we all do for a little bit of character setting?

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Piazza delle Erbe, our flat; top three rooms
on the left building

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A room with a view
The piazza delle Erbe market
We had the whole apartment to ourselves (the other guests had cancelled). Our room overlooked the piazza, and my first thought was, A Room with a View E.M. Forster's novel about Florence. Well, the view in Verona was not bad either.

Heading out into the warm evening to find something to eat. It is not that difficult, the biggest problem is to choose from all the lovely restaurants. Finally, we settled for a enoteca, 'Bodega Vino' that Martin knew from before. Lovely old house, with a lot of atmosphere, good food and wine. Martin took a Truffle Risotto and I had some grated mozzarella with truffles. We tried some of the local Soave and Valpolicella wine to go with it. Not bad at all! We ended the evening with a small stroll through the narrow streets, before climbing the stairs to our 'Hermitage'.


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Martin, happy with a Soave wine!
Next day we started our sightseeing tour of the city. Piazza delle Erbe and the Piazza dei Signori, next to it. The two squares are divided by an archway and there is a big whale rib hanging under the arch. It is said that it will fall down on the just persons passing under it. So far it has been there for a thousand years and never yet fallen down, not even when popes have been passing under it!

I find that squares are always wonderful in Italy, and these two as well. Surrounding by old houses with clock towers, cobblestones and statues. In Piazza dei Signori, Dante is standing in the middle of the square, looking out over the passers by.  He spent some of his exiled years here.

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Dante, thoughtfully looking
out over the crowd 
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The arch way between Piazza delle Erbe and
Piazza dei Signori. The whale rib is under
the other arch. 
Continuing to the Roman arena, which today is the Opera house, hosting music festivals through out the summer. We wanted to go inside, but found the queue to long, so settled for a tour around it. Outside was stored the props from the various operas running this summer. A lot of Egyptian themes, so I gather it is from 'Aida'.

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Roman arena
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Opera arena
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Lotus flowers, waiting for their turn in the arena!
The heat was taking its toll, between 35-40 degrees C and humidity, so we ventured through the small alleys and tried to stay in the shade. Heading over to Castelvecchio, which is the most important military construction by the della Scala family. They were for Verona what the Medicis were for Florence. The castle goes back to the Middle Ages when threats from other city states always were imminent. There is also a bridge crossing the river Adige. Built in red bricks the Castelvecchio is an example of the Gothic architecture of the times. Once upon a time there was a moat around, but it is now dried out. Today the building is housing a museum.

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Castelvecchio with bridge
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Typically shaped pillar on Castelvecchio bridge
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Castelvecchio bridge
This was what we had planned to do, and the only thing outstanding was the Casa di Giulietta, which I wrote about in a separate post. Heading back towards that house, we dwindled through the streets, like in a labyrinth. We passed several churches, but one had the door open so we ventured inside for a little bit of cool air. Well, this was a church, but we have never seen anything like it. Just one huge room with a slightly arched, but mostly flat ceiling, quite wide and on both sides were paintings on the walls, which gave the impression of a gallery, rather than a church. It is called St Euphemia Church, and if you come to Verona, this is a must. See some of my photos below, although they don't do the place justice. One of those magic places you surprisingly run into from time to time.

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St Euphemia church
Our time in Verona were up for now. Walking slowly back to the car to continue our trip, heading next for Lazise at Lake Garda.  A last cappucino to go with the ride!

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