Sunday, March 25, 2012

First Stop... Verona!

Once we made it to Verona and checked in – our hotel was rainbow colored of course – we started our exploration. We wandered the streets and grabbed some food at the supermarket for a picnic in the park outside the arena. My first impression of Verona was that it was a very beautiful city. Definitely worth a stop if you ever travel to Italy. After our lunch we walked down the main pedestrian shopping street. It was pretty cool, a lot of their pathways are made of marble… yes, Italians live the high life.
Our hotel - see? rainbow...

We came across a church, San Anastasia, and were attracted to the outside so we decided to make our way in. We bought a pass to get into the four main churches in Verona so we could see it all. The inside was amazing; it was a very long church, and I couldn’t get over the organ pipes. It was so decorated… absolutely beautiful. After this we made it to the next church – the Duomo of course! This was also a very breathtaking church. The area that contained the altar was incredible. All the ornament inside… words and pictures can’t even begin to describe the atmosphere of these places!
San Anastasia
After the churches, we made our way to the Roman Amphitheater. The amphitheater itself was still in pretty good shape, which still gets me – how did they do it?! From the hill it was on, you could oversee the whole city. We saw a huge church while we were up here and decided to leave to go see what it was all about before we had to go back to dinner. We walked to the church and it was free to get in… we should have known it wasn’t going to be as good based on this fact. It was pretty, but nothing compared to what we had already seen. Who would have thought the biggest church wasn’t the most beautiful? We left and were a little upset because we gave up our perfect location to watch the sunset to see a so-so church. :( We walked along the river and made it back to the hotel to have a nice dinner of pasta with ragu, beef and potatoes, and a yummy ice cream for dessert!
Roman Amphitheater
Tuesday we spent another day in Verona – first stop was Castle Vecchio. It used to be a castle, got destroyed and then the interior was redesigned by Carlos Scarpa to be a museum for the castle. Now I’m not a huge fan of museums… but the building was pretty cool! Haha. We made our way through and had a little time to spare; so of course we left and made our way to another church on our checklist, San Zeno. We got to the piazza the church was in and we were surprised by the façade. They were doing construction on it so it was covered by a sheet that had a picture of the façade on it… hmm. Although the exterior was a little surprising, the inside was beautiful. It had two levels you could see when you walk in. From the nave you could see the crypt down the stairs and the altar up the stairs.
Clock Tower at the castle

At San Zeno

We made our way back to the castle to catch up with the group and head to the arena. The arena is basically a small version of the Colleseum that is more intact. We just relaxed in here for a while and soaked up some rays. I walked around the top level of it to overlook the whole city; it was a pretty awesome destination. After the arena, we made our way to the final church on our list – San Fermo. Just like the others, it was beautiful. The ceiling on this one is what set it apart from the rest though. I couldn’t believe what I saw; nor could I imagine how this was constructed. It was amazing.

San Fermo

Enough of the churches – we were on a mission to find Juliet’s house… you know? Like in the movie Letters to Juliet! It was quite the search, but we finally found it. The walls where the letters used to be put is now just for graffiti where you are supposed to write you and your lovers name. It was so colorful! We saw the balcony, and of course for luck touched to breast of Juliet.
The graffiti leading to Juliet's balcony
After all this we were hungry! We came across this pizza place that sold pizza by the slice, but this wasn’t any ordinary pizza – it was brick oven pizza! It was one of the best pizzas I’ve had since I’ve been here. I had some with tomatoes and mozzarella and some with eggplant. You turn your nose up, but it’s actually pretty darn good! For dessert we grabbed some gelato and then loaded the bus to head to our next destination – Vicenza.

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