About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


We had every intention of sleeping in a bit this morning.  I thought I had slept in, so I got up and realized it was only 7:30am.  Katrina was up soon after me.  I guess we slept well and were well rested.
Our plan for today - day trip to Verona.  We woke Brandon up, all of us got ready and ate some breakfast.  We hit the road, heading east.
Verona - the city of Romeo and Juliet.  The city has been a crossroads for over 2,000 years.  Fans of Shakespeare will enjoy the fact that the two real feuding families, the Montecchi and the Capellos, were models for the Montagues and the Capulets. 
Verona's is full of Roman ruins, remnants of 13th and 14th century culture, and 21st century pedestrian ambiance, as well as a its world famous summer opera festival. 
We arrived in Verona mid morning and found parking near the Roman Arena.  Brandon had been wanting to do a sightseeing tour on a bus ever since we arrived in Italy and he spotted them in Milan.  City Sightseeing runs open air bus tours in 80 citys worldwide.  Katrina and I decided to let him have his day.  We bought tickets for the Verona tours.  They had two tour routes and we could take either or both for one price.  You can get on and off at any stop along the route during a 24hour period.  They give you headphones so you can listen to the recorded tour guide in 1 of 7 languages.
Brandon and Katrina on board the sightseeing bus.
One of the old city gates - Porta Palio
Walls of Castelvecchio
View of Ponte Scaligero over the Fiume Adige
Statue on the Ponte Vittoria

Brandon is happy that we finally rode a Sightseeing bus. 
After we rode the full loop of the red line tour, we got off and walked two blocks to Piazza Bra'.  The core of Verona is along Via Mazzini between Piazza Bra' (pronounced bra) and Piazza Erbe.  The name Piazza Bra is a local dialect for open space.  There is a large statue of Italy's first king, Victor Emmanuel II.  According to Rick Steve's, "Piazza Bra'" is all about strolling...the passeggiata is a national sport in Italy.  The broad, shiny sidewalk was named the "Liston" (ribbon) by 17th century Venetians who made it big and wide - better for promenading socialites to see and be seen in all their finery."  One of the more interesting thing about these walkways is that they are all marble.  In fact, most of the sidewalks in downtown Verona are marble - colorful and smooth from centuries of polishing footsteps. 
The Roman Arena dominates the Piazza with its size and imposing stonework.  The Romans built this stadium outside the town walls.  With 72 aisles, its giant oval shape is 466 x 400 feet and is the third largest ampitheater in the Roman world.  Most of the stone is original and dates back to the first century AD.  Over the centuries up to 30,000 spectators have cheered Roman gladiator battles, medieval executions, modern plays, pop - rock - and jazz concerts, as well as the popular summer opera festival. All of these productions enjoy the Arena's famous acoustics. 
Katrina and Brandon sitting in the 'stands' of the Arena.
Readying the Arena for another show.
Lollipop takes a break inside the Arena.
Outside the Arena, Brandon captures a Roman gladiator...for e2!
Typical of sidewalks in Verona...shiny marble!
From the Arena we walked down the pedestrian streets towards the Porta Borsari and Corso Porta Borsari.  The Porta Borsari was the main entrance to Roman Verona.  It was a toll booth.  Entering the main gate, visitors would find themselves on the Corso Porta Borsari, the ancient main street heading to the forum.  The street has many bits of Roman history:  pieces of Roman columns, medieval reliefs, old facades, fossils embedded in the marble, as well as elegant shops. 
Porta Borsari
Modern statue inside Porta Borsari.
It was after 2pm and we were hungry.  We found a restaurant with some great Italian food.  Katrina and I sampled some Veronese wine with our lunch. 
After lunch we continued our walking tour, making our way to Piazza Erbe.  It is a bustling market square with painted buildings, fountains, restaurants and market booths.  People have congregated here since Roman times when it was the forum. 
The Venetian lion reminding locals of their conquerers since 1405.  Elaborately painted buildings also face the piazza.

This fountain has bubbled for 2000 years. 
Just down the street from Piazza Erbe is the House of Juliet - Casa Di Giuletta.  The house, for centuries identified as that of Juliet, is found on Via Cappello.  A hat (capello) on the inside of the entrance arch, may identify it as having belonged to the Capuleti family. 
In the courtyard there is a statue of Juliet.  Traditions have grown around it.  Rubbing the breast, one will be fortunate in love.  Of couse, I along with many others, had to take my chances at rubbing her breast.  You can see from the 'shine' of her breast how many people have wished for love. 
The 'supposed' Juliet balcony.
After Juliet's house it was time for gelato.  No day trip is complete without a gelato!
Continueing our walking tour, we made our way to Piazza del Signori, walking under a whale's rib suspended from an archway.  It is likely that a merchant brought this souvenier back with him.
Pizza del Signori is framed by five buildings dating back centuries.  In the middle of the square is a statue of the Italian poet Dante.  He was expelled from Florence for political reasons and was granted asylum in Verona. 
We found part of an old Roman road in Piazza del Signori. 
We made our way towards the Church of Sant'Anastasia.  The church was built from the late 13th century through the 15th century.  The builders ran out of steam and the facade was never completed. 
The little bit of marble work completed around the doorway is colorul and interesting...white, pink and blue marble.
The last stop on our self guided walking tour was the Duomo.  Started in the 12th century, this church was built over a period of several hundred years.  Its facade is Romanesque.   Its interior is a bright mix of styles.
We were unable to peek inside the Duomo because they were having a service. 
The blue line of the Verona Sightseeing bus stops a the Duomo.  We decided to rest our feet and ride this loop to see some different sights.  We enjoyed a nice break while riding around some different streets of the old city, eventually making our way up to Castel San Pietro for spectacular views of the city.
View of the Ponte Pietra (Stone Bridge).  It is the oldest bridge in Verona, predating by some years, the construction of the Roman city.  Like many other bridges, it was destroyed by the Germans at the end of WWII, then rebuilt, as it had been, with the original materials. 
Another view of Verona.
The Gavi Arch.  Underneath the arch are the remains of an old Roman road.  You can see the wagon wheel marks in the stone.
We were making our way to Castelvecchio when we spotted a parade of old vehicles go by.  Everyone stopped to watch the procession. 
There were many motorcyles, cars and trucks that drove by, all escorted by motorcyles and polizia.  We must have watched for 15 minutes!
Castelvecchio was built by Verona's powerful Scaligeri family in 1343 - 1356 as both a residence and fortress. 
The pedestrian bridge, Ponte Scaligero, is a favorite place for strolling. 
It is also a favorite location for wedding day pictures.
The Ponte Scaligero in the evening light.
It was getting late.  Katrina wanted to make our way back to the Arena for some evening shots.  We stopped along the way to get some sandwiches for dinner.  Brandon had some egg drop soup and ate it in Piazza Bra while Katrina took pictures. 
We really liked Verona.  It is definitely on my top 5 list of places we have visited so far.  I think we arrived home around 9:30 or 10pm, exhausted from a great day. 
Hmmm, what is my top 5 list:
1. Switzerland  - Matterhorn and Murren
2. Slovenia
3. Venice
4. Verona
5. Lago di Como

1 comment:

  1. How come Venice gets two spots on your top 5 list?