wherefore art thou, juliet?
Verona Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
having left venice behind, it was a couple hour's drive to verona, where we were looking forward to some respite, a candle-lit dinner, and a shower. When in Verona, find the "Piazza Bra," with its arena and broad pedestrian square with dozens of restaurants, cafes, and shops. This is the best place to start.
We drove around for much too long, until we parked nearly a mile away from where we actually wanted to be. Part of that has to do with the limited parking available, and our inability to effectively navigate through Italian streets with help of the street signs.
With luggage in tow, and me having a full bladder, we headed toward the center of town, the "piazza bra." Trying to use our navigation system to find the hotel in the tour guide, orienting ourselves on the map, wasn't working all that well. I had no concentration, no focus, as my bladder was about to explode all over the cobblestones. So, we rushed to the McDonald's and I used the facilities. No matter where you are in Europe, Mc Donald's remains a good reliable source for food on the go, and bladders on the run. But, they'll charge you for the ketchup.
We stood in the large square, staring at the map of the city, and though we could discern where we were standing, we could not find the street on which the hotel was located. My mediocre linguistic skills came to the rescue when I asked the old gentleman nearby where the street was located.
we came upon the hotel "europa," and were content to check in here if they had a room, because we were no longer in the mood to keep looking for the hotel in our guide book. for 90 euros, we had a clean room, though very small, with private bath, airconditioning, and free breakfast buffet in the morning. considering the location, located virtually right on "Piazza Bra," near the arena, and many major sights, it was the best deal.
after refreshing showers and donning clean clothes, we picked up the car and moved it closer to the hotel. though we did not have our own lot as guests of the hotel, we did find an open parking lot just a couple blocks away.
we strolled along the piazza, studying all of the menus readily displayed for pedestrians. All the restaurants had standard Italian fare with generous plates of lasagna, Spagetthi, Tortellini, Canelloni, Pizza, Pizza, Pizza, Frutta di Mare, etc.
Instead of having our dinner on a busy square filled with tourists and locals, we ventured into one of the back streets of the square and settled down for our three course Italian dinner at a cozy candle-lit table. In Italy, the custom is to order two courses, in addition to the appetizer. The first course is generally pasta like lasagna or spagetthi, and the second course is the meat. We feasted on lasagna and fried calamari, fresh baked bread with olive oil, and sampled two carafes of the house wines. It seemed we were there for hours, but that is usually what it's like in Europe. The wait staff is relaxed, no one is rushing you, no one comes back to the table to give you a refill. Takes some getting used to, but you learn very quickly to speak up for yourself.
In the morning we were up early, had a delicious breakfast, grabbed our luggage and headed for our vehicle. Having noted street names and landmarks the night before, we were sure to be in the right place. Now, our jaws dropped incredulously to the ground, as the parking lot was gone. In its place was a bustling weekend market, and unfortunately our rental car had not become a prop in the background. It was gone! That's never happened to either of us.
You just stand there, waiting for someone to show up and tell you what's going on, and why this happened to you. And we did just that. We just stood there, in denial. Scanning the crowds for someone snickering secretly into their shopping basket, looking for a market stand in the shape of a spanish made volkswagen, or a policeman waiting for the unfortunate victims of the car abduction to arrive.
I thought that this would have been enough to send us off on our way, never to return again. Surprisingly, Jason wanted to return into the city and see the Arena. This time we found a parking garage, easy to miss because it was underground, but located near the Mc Donald's where we were the day before. *cripes!*
For 4 euros, we had admittance into the arena, the third largest colloseum in the roman world, built AD 30. Currently, they were setting up for their summer opera series, in which the first show will be the egyptian "AIDA.
After our visit, we followed the VIA MAZZINI to PIAZZA DEL ERBE, per our guidebook. The Via Mazzini is a pedestrian street lined with dozens of shops, boutiques, and cafes. I would recommend shopping here, instead of being disappointed by Milan.
Arriving in the Piazza del Erbe, we were surrounded by beautifully rendered buildings from the 14th centuries and on. In the center was a small public market, around it were cafes where people sat eating gelatto and sipping espressos. To our left was the chamber of commerce, a 14th century building in red brick.
We walked beneath the archway with the whale rib suspended from it, which leads into another piazza. Local legend claims that it would fall on any married virgin that walked beneath it. well, is that likely to ever happen?
I enjoyed the multi colored buildings and architechture in the Piazza dei Signori even more, with the statue of Dante at the center of it. At the other end of the piazza was the church of Santa Maria, where the Della Scala family proudly mounted their sarcophagi in the 13th and 14th centuries. They ruled Verona for two hunderd years, roughly, and suppose they felt it prudent to let everyone honor them publicly, even in death.
Here we came to the end of our tour, as Jason was eager to continue on to Milan, and I had already been to Juliet's tomb 9 years before...