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  • Day19

    A day in Verona

    September 7, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    It was sad to wake and realize that we would soon be leaving Venice – I have really enjoyed our time in the city. We were soon pack and sorted and, bags on our backs, were off to the station (up and down over several bridges!). It was a mild and slightly misty morning and we enjoyed our walk despite our heavy packs, we were soon at Santa Lucia and with some help we were on a train to Mestre. Once there we easily found our intercity train to Verona and subsequently our first-class seats (coffee and a snack included!! We felt very special).

    The trip to Verona took only 58 minutes once there, we took our luggage to the bag deposito and headed off into the centre of town a flat and easy 10-minute walk. Our first stop was a café near the old gate (Caffé Wallner) were we had a double espresso (this is getting to be a bit of a habit) each and made use of their toilet – although this time it was my turn to almost get stuck in there. After that we stolled around the corner to the tourist office to purchase our Verona Card – this cost 18 Euro’s and gives you 24hrs free entry to most of the Museums and Churches in the city as well as free bus travel.

    Our first stop was the Arena di Verona, this Roman era amphitheatre (originally built in 30AD outside of the Verona city walls) the Arena is one of the world's greatest examples of a complete piece of Roman architecture, which could accommodate 30,000 spectators (today the numbers are limited to 15,00 due to OH&S) and was used for sports events and theatrical performances. Although it fell into disrepair between the 12th and 16th centuries and was revived at this time and is still used for performances’ today due to brilliant natural acoustics. Even packed with annoying German tourist it was still pretty amazing.

    Our next stop was the Museo Lapidario Maffeiano – having no information as to what this museum I guessed may be “Gems” based on the word Lapidario – it actually turned out to be funeral relics from the Greek and Roman period. Not quite what we were expecting but interesting none the less. From there it was a short walk to Ponte di Castelvecchio which was constructed in 1354. It’s connected to the castle complex; the castle was meant as protection for the ruling family from riots and the bridge served as a last resort escape route which would take the family from the castle across the Adige River to the countryside. In 1945 the bridge was destroyed by the retreating Germans and was rebuilt in 1951. The length is 120 meters and the upper part of the bridge is made of red brick while the lower part is constructed of white marble. It was swarming with tourists as well but we were still able to stroll across and enjoy some great views, especially of the Adige River which is a peculiar chalky green colour.

    Heading back across the bridge we walked on into the centre of the city via Corso Porta Borsari passing through several old gates. Me made our wat to Piazza delle Erbe which was also full of tourists and seemed to be hosting a kind a market (think rubbishy tourist junk type stalls). We gave this a miss and headed to Torre di Lamberti which is an 84m high octagonal tower (368 steps to the top unless you pay the 2Euros to take the elevator – which we didn’t) which was built in 1172 (it actually only stood 46 m high initially but was rebuilt several times due to fires, lightening and the like finally achieving 84m in 1464). The hard work to get to the top was worth it with a lovely cool breeze and great views.

    Descending our next visit was to Juliet’s House (Casa di Giulietta) one of the city's top attractions, Juliet's House. Shakespeare never actually went to Verona, and so the site wasn't the inspiration for the setting of the two non-fictional characters' balcony scene, yet the charm and romantic setting has become a magnet for lovers and if we thought that the previous places we had visited were busy we hadn’t seen anything yet!! In response to tourists visiting to try to find Juliet’s house, the local council bought this Verona home from the Dal Capello family in 1905 because of the similarity between their name and Juliet's family name and so the house was marketed as the Capulet family home, home of Juliet – and a new tourist site was born. A narrow archway leads into a small courtyard where you can admire the small stone balcony on one of the walls. Visitors leave notes attached to the walls – on post-its and of all things Band-Aids! In the courtyard, there is a bronze statue of Juliet and apparently if you touch her right breast you will find your true love – Kirstin and I had a go and also stood on the “famous” balcony.
    Fleeing the insane crowds and even more insane tourist shops we headed up to the top of the town via a brief visit to St Anastasia’s Church (built between 1280 and 1400 in red, white and black marble and famous for its frescos of St George and the Princess as well as for the 2 baptismal fonts supported by the carved figures of hunchbacks). Our destination was Castle San Pietro which is on a hill overlooking the town and had been recommended as a great vantage point by a Russian couple we met on the Vaproetto in Venice. Although the castle is essentially just a few ruins the view is spectacular over the city and the river and is well worth the steep climb (Kirstin paid the 2 Euros for the funicular which was probably more sensible). Walking back down we met up and had a visit to the Roman Theatre and Archaeological Museum. Again, it was amazing to be able to just wander around the remains of a building that was close to 2000 years old and is still being used for performances today. Connected to the theatre is an old convent which houses the archaeological museum – this had more funeral relics and other assorted items including statues, mosaics and frescos.
    Leaving the theatre we walked back through the city to the Castelvecchio Musuem. Given we had a little time to spare I elected to go and have a look at the Castle (which was very interesting and packed with all sorts of random items from weapons, alter pieces, pottery, jewellery, paintings and bells) the highlight of the visit was the chance to climb the ramparts and enjoy a view of the river – although I did get a little lost and ended up in the Pigeon loft at one point. Kirstin was in need of sustenance and headed off to a café to get an iced coffee but they didn’t understand an gave her a scoop of ice-cream with a hot espresso poured over it (afrogatto style) – it was very nice and a great pick me up though.
    Although there was still much to see it was sadly time to bid Verona farewell and head to the station for our next destination……. Siena
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