Note: see how many times you can find a line or phrase from Romeo and Juliet in this entry. [I have modernized some language so it would be more difficult.] Post your answer in the comments. An imaginary prize goes to the winner.
Today started out with checking out of our Bologna hotel, taking the quick walk to the train, and purchasing our tickets to Verona. There was a slight glitch at the ticket machine. Thankfully there were no lines, because I got all the way through the process before I was informed by the machine’s female voice that it was “having difficulty printing the ticket.” So I went to the next machine and it worked, with about 10 minutes to spare. I looked
up at the reader board to see our train leaving from “Ouest 3.” I figured this meant there was a special #3 track on the west side, and I thought we were following the signs labeled “ Ouest platform -> ” but we came out to a #3 platform with nobody on it. Nobody but a couple who were smoking, and were out of it…I suspect drugs. Anyway, I asked them if I was in the right place and the man pointed right behind me, where, about 50 feet away, I saw a mini-platform. He informed me that I would “find my correct situation over there,” and so we did. Ninety minutes later, we came into Verona station.
Our hotel is fairly close to the train station, and about 15 minutes’ walk to the old part of town. That works for me, because I will not pay substantially more for a hotel’s location. I don’t mind walking 15 minutes when I want to see something. I must say the directions listed on the hotel’s website were not helpful. They referred to staying to the left of the church, going past the flowerbeds (which I don’t believe actually exist), crossing the intersection and arriving. In actuality, we stayed to the left of the church, didn’t notice the
invisible flowerbeds, and came upon a 5-way intersection which had a pedestrian
crossing made up of 5 separate sections with their own stop/walk lights. The real reason we found the place is because Google maps is awesome (and also because I remember maps and because it is hard to miss a bright red-orange building). Hotel Piccolo, methinks I see thee. There you are alongside the fast-moving river.
We dropped off our luggage at the hotel and went out to look around; we couldn’t check in for at least three hours. We headed in the direction of the old town, which is like a peninsula formed by a river winding around it (in a horseshoe sort of way). After a few
minutes going past some condos and businesses (all closed because it is a national holiday) we came upon a large city gate in from of us. I’m not sure what the architecture style is here, but I haven’t seen it in real-life before. It actually looks like the architecture in Romeo and Juliet sets…I’m referring particularly to the shape of turrets and the “whatever is in this picture on the left.”
Just past this we were in the big square, what must have been the forum in Roman times. The crown jewel of the city is the amphitheater which rivals the Colosseum in Rome. I seem to remember the Colosseum being much larger than this…much higher, anyway. But, this one seemed to be in great shape. It was completed in 30 AD and still hosts operas and plays. There are none going on this week, unfortunately; a greater power than we can contradict hath thwarted our attempts.
Since we didn’t eat breakfast in our hustle to make the train, we shopped at one of the overpriced street cafes in the main area. We had 2 pizzas and Kellie also had a salad. I must say I am looking forward to getting back to Hungarian food! I can’t fathom how anyone in Italy can afford to eat out; it is so expensive! It is honestly close to impossible to
eat out for less than $25 US per person. But then, if everyone who is walking around with a Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, or similar bag can afford their $200 pants, I guess they can afford a meal. Speaking of shopping, I am still trying to figure out the fascination with, and culture of window shopping. Whether it is a designer clothes store with itemized price tags next to each mannequin, or trinket stores with windows full of gaudy crap, you would not believe how each window has people just standing there, looking and enjoying what’s in the display. It’s not that people window shop rather than buy…I just can’t figure it out.
Observations on Verona:
Understanding that I don’t like crowds and that I don’t go to every tourist sight (especially when the ticket price seems exorbitant), Verona is good for a 6-hour day trip. We are staying the night, actually two nights, because it was a very convenient location for our journey and our planned day trips. We started walking to the town center around 11am, wandered, ate, found photogenic spots, wandered
through a local market (and sampled fresh pesto, prosciutto, and white
truffle), walked past the tourists to the river path, had gelato, wandered
through the grounds of Castelvecchio (a castle) and headed back to the room around three. There’s nothing else to see. No we are not going to Juliet’s house, balcony, or gravesite (Juliet is a fictional character!). And if you’re wondering about the gelato, Kellie got chocolato and yoghurt; I got panna cotta and gianduja (sweet chocolate with hazelnut).
I must say that if you are traveling to Italy in the future, Verona does not need to be on your list. It really is an attractive city with some beautiful architecture, but a lot of it is covered up, blocked by posters, billboards and advertisements. And worst of all, the forum area (near the amphitheater) is like Universal Citywalk meets the Las Vegas Strip meets a circus. The street performers, magicians, people dressed like gladiators, and the cheesy tourist train really ruin one’s ability to appreciate the city’s history. Verona, you and I are past our dancing days.
I hope you enjoy the pictures. Tomorrow, we’re off on a day trip which I am
very excited about. I shall say good night ‘til it be morrow.