The plans for the trip began about three months ago and was planned for mid April. Lucy booked the flights and the accomodation, however when the time came Lucy was unable to travel. This left me looking for a new travelling companion. I was delighted my sister-in-law (who herself had to cancel a planned trip to Verona a few years previous) agreed to accompany me.
A six o clock start on the Saturday morning saw me on the road to Portlaoise to meet my sister-in-law (VB) and from there we travelled by bus to Dublin airport. Our flight was delayed a small bit, so we enjoyed a cup of tea and a scone while waiting. Then a nice smooth two hour flight to Verona. The first thing we noticed on arrival was the lovely warm weather, it was such a tonic after the extremely cold conditions we had endured here during March and the first half of April. We had our instructions to get a bus to the city and then another bus to bring us to our accomodation. We managed very well as neither of us are seasoned travellers!
Into the city centre and it took us a little while of asking a few people to find our B & B. However when we did we were checked in by a very helpful gentleman (Demenza?) who explained everything we needed to know and told us lots about the city too. The B & B wasent remotely like an Irish B & B, it was in essence an apartment containing four separate bedrooms with a communal kitchen where we helped ourselves to breakfast, (and cups of tea whenever we felt the need of one) We were up on the third floor and the lift was so quaint that my first picture has to be of it!
It was really small, definitely not baby buggy friendly, it barely fitted the two of us and our luggage, which was one case each. There were two sets of doors to be closed, you would not want to be claustrophobic, quaint is the word, but to us it added to the charm of the place. After settling in we decided to take a walk and explore the city. In the late evening we were just gobsmacked by the beauty of the place. We found ourselves in Piazza Bra and the evening sun on the buildings was just stunning
That evening we had dinner quite near the B & B, we enjoyed a very tasty lasagne for VB and a risotto for me and then we decided to retire for the night, it had been a long day.
Next morning after helping ourselves to an ample breakfast from the kitchen, (we had a choice of fruit juice, yoghurt, cheese, ham, salami, along with cereal, toast and tea or coffee). So we set out on our first morning full and happy. We were once again blessed with beautiful sunshine and we headed down to Piazza Bra to start our sightseeing.
To begin we took a trip on a tourist bus (sort of kiddie if the truth be known, sure we were like a couple of re-cycled kids). The bus brought us round the main attractions of the city, and would give us a sense of our location, we hoped!
After the bus ride we settled on the Roman Arena for our next port of call, it is the third largest in Italy, and holds up to 25000 spectators. We were able to purchase a two day Verona ticket costing €15 each which gave us entry into most of the attractions for two days. The arena was amazing with its corridors and different levels and then out unto the seating area and up to the top of the wall! They were preparing the arena for a performance, so some parts were closed for that purpose, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit and we sat for awhile in the seats and chatted in the sunshine.
By now we were ready for lunch and we found a place selling salad rolls on the corner of Piazza Bra, along with lunch we fancied a coffee, on asking for a “latte” we were duly handed two glasses of warm milk!! After a little bit of explanation (and a few giggles from us), the waitress added two expressos to the milk and we had our coffees.
Fortified by our rolls and coffee we picked the 14th century Castelvecchio as our next place to visit. After a small mistake, with our map reading, and with the help of some kind locals, we found the castle. Which as it turned out was really close to where we had lunch, we both decided the map was very misleading! The castle and museum had a lot of religious art and archeological finds and after a bit we began to feel a bit goggle eyed, nevertheless we enjoyed our visit. On the bridge which spanned the river there was a market with stalls selling everything from food products, to jewellery, pottery, etc. etc., so we spent some time perusing. At the entrance we saw this gentleman who was sharpening knives using a pedal knife sharpener.
After our afternoon in Castelvecchio we were ready for an ice-cream, our friendly “latte” waitress was only a stones throw away so we headed back there for some yummy Italian ice-cream. Then we headed back to our B & B for a small rest and a freshen up.
That evening we headed down Piazza Bra in search of somewhere to eat. The street front has many places to eat, but we headed down a side street and found a place where the locals eat, I think we may have been the only tourists there. We had some real Italian piazza and of course some local wine to wash it down, after which we headed back, had a cup of tea and more chat and settled down for the night.
Next morning after breakfast we decided to venture a bit further afield, cross the river via the old stone Ponta Pietra bridge visit the Roman Theatre and Archeological museum and find the Giusti Gardens. First we wanted to visit the Lamberti Tower and view the city from the top. We passed the main shopping area (some very expensive looking shops), but we kept focused on our sightseeing. The tower is 84 metres, and luckily has a lift to bring you up, however even with the lift there is a climb at the end, but it was so worth it. The bells ring on the hour and half hour and at the bottom a gentleman advised us to wait until after they had rung, as they are very loud.
This picture was taken at the top, and we were indeed still there for the next ringing of the bells which took us by surprise even though we knew they would be ringing! The view of the city and the surrounding countryside was just awesome. After visiting the tower we were ready for lunch before heading over the bridge. We found a nice cafe and had a toasted sandwich.
Just over the bridge we found the Roman Theatre, the museum is housed in the former Convent of St Jerome, where the brothers devoted their lives to producing medicine and caring for the ill. It was quiet, not many tourists, but well worth a visit and we enjoyed exploring it in the warm sunshine.
Then it was on to find the Giusti Gardens, we had our map, but we came on the entrance unexpectedly, (map mistake again!!) However they were well worth the effort to find them, and we spent a very enjoyable couple of hours there. The gardens were built by the Giusti family and contains a wonderful cypress tree avenue. At the highest point there is a wonderful view of the city.
We had almost seen all our planned sights, one however remained. It was Juliet’s house and we had a little difficultly finding it, and had to ask directions, (a couple of times!) It is close to Piazza Erbe and so worth a visit. We spent a while exploring, and there was lots to see, with the different rooms furnished as they would have been. The picture is of Juliet’s balcony, needless to say it is a very popular destination with young (or not so young) couples.
Later that evening we went back to our favourite restaurant for dinner and also to sit and observe the local Italians. We much admired their style.
Next morning (our last day) we packed up and checked out after breakfast. We were able to leave our bags as our flight was not until the afternoon. We headed back to Piazza Erbe for a last minute spot of shopping. While there we just could not leave without sampling the local tipple, in the beautiful sunshine.
Later that afternoon we said our goodbyes to Verona and had a very nice flight back to Dublin, curtesy of Aer Lingus. Its a fab place for a break and a big thank-you to VB for accompanying me.