Day 8: Milan to Verona to Venice
Venice Travel Blog› entry 8 of 11 › view all entries
"It's like Kramer did the lines on the freeway." -- Brian describing the crazy and erratic lanes on the Italian highways.
Driving in Italy is not for the faint of heart. The drivers are crazy. Lights and stop signs are almost in non-existence and you're lucky if they road you are traveling on has lanes. Nobody seems to understand the concept of yielding so it's pretty much every man for himself. Today, however, it's the weekend so the traffic is light. We learn that commercial trucks are forbidden from driving on highways on the weekends so that people can travel between cities more easily (leisure time far outweighs economic needs in this country).
Our day begins with a city tour of Milan.
From here, we leave and visit the Galleria, the central shopping area and main square of Milan. It is home to a lot of trendy shops (Versace, Armani, etc) and a McDonalds that serves curly fries and cannoli. Next we visit the famed La Scala Opera House. It is amazingly beautiful inside and still operates as an opera house today. Opera is big here. When Verdi was big, the crowds used to shout "VERDI VERDI" after his shows. It was not only a cheer for the composer, but also a political statement of the times as the letters make an acronym for Victor Emmanuel Regal De Italia. Maria Callas was a goddess here. After she died in 1977, La Scala refused to stage La Traviata (her signature show) for more than 27 years. They finally agreed to stage it and after the performance the entire audience stayed silent, a sign that they felt the show was a disaster and the singing didn't match Callas's high quality.
Our next stop is Verona, a beautiful little city on the banks of the Po. This is the supposed home of Shakespeare's Juliet and it's the first city that I could actually see myself living in (if I were to live in Italy, which it's highly unlikely I'd ever do). We walk through the town, admire Juliet's balcony and visit the city's colosseum that is 50 years older than Rome's. The acoustics in it are so good that when operas are performed, the singers don't use microphones. When the Rolling Stones played here some years ago, the music was so loud it busted all of the windows in the buildings nearby. We also have time to split a piece of pizza and of course, more gelato!
Finally, we get back on the road and make way toward Venice.
We stay at a hotel on the Lido (a large island on one side of the Judeca Canal). Our hotel is home to the Venice Film Festival and is beautiful. It was built in the 19th century and still features authentic floors, art and chandeliers. After checking in to the hotel and getting dinner, we travel by boat to St. Mark's Square, the main hub of the city. Venice is absolutely beautiful and magical at night. Brian comments that Venice is a lot like the Venetian in Vegas, but better. There are small cafes that line St. Mark's Square. Each features a small orchaestra and these musicians duel out songs amongst each other as people sit, listen, drink and dance. We even get to hear one of the orchestras do a rendition of "Yesterday.