Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Verona

After a day of much walking (see two posts back), RJ and I were ready for something a bit less strenuous and decided to drive to Verona, which is about 90 km from Riva.

It wasn't difficult to get there; we had a map, we had SatNav and of course we had two pairs of eyes capable of looking at the road signs. RJ had been there before and knew it was nearly impossible to find a parking space really close to the town centre without having to pay a fortune, but we were lucky and found a space not too far off, maybe half a mile along a road lined with banks and caf├ęs, where at the time of our arrival, many business people were taking their lunch out on the pavement under the trees.

My first impression of Verona's town centre was this one:
A huge piazza, lots and lots of people (don't be fooled by the apparent lack of people in the pictures) - and the arena, of course.
We walked around it on the outside; neither of us felt we wanted to go in for a closer look, it was that packed with tourists and already the crowds were getting to us a bit. The arena itself is certainly impressive, as I hope my pictures can partly convey.

Off the piazza, the roads lead further into the centre. This shop-lined street had all the big names sought out by shopaholics all over the world; Gucci, Prada, Luis Vuitton - you name it, they had it. Not really our kind of place, but the worst was yet to come.

Everybody is, I believe, more or less familiar with the story of Romeo and Juliet (Julia in German, Giulietta in Italian), made immortal by Shakespeare's play.
Now, legend (or history?) has it that this unhappy couple and their families lived in Verona, and Juliet's house is a major tourist attraction. We had a look through the courtyard where, between throngs of people's heads and shoulders, we just about managed to catch a glimpse of the balcony. Yes, THAT balcony. It was awful: crowds of young people were yelling, whistling and laughing down in the courtyard, and a few bewildered-looking tourists (young, female, pretty) who had paid admission to the house and were now standing on the balcony were looking down at them, clearly not wanting to kiss each other in spite of the crowd demanding it. We turned on our heels and fled.

For a moment I thought it was a bad idea to come here, but then RJ suggested we walk towards the river and then along it on the other side (I told you, he had been to Verona before).

We did that, and as soon as we were just a few yards off the most badly beaten track, things quietened down (as much as they do in an old town centre, lived in and worked at by many people), and it became a lovely afternoon.

Here are some of the sights we saw; I could have taken a picture every few yards, really! If you want to see more, you can go to my photobucket album and browse it from this picture onwards.

We had a meal at a tiny osteria, where we were the only guests; it was way past lunch and way before dinner time, but the kind lady still served us in the most friendly manner. The drive back was uneventful, and we were not even fined for having overstayed our parking space by several hours :-)
We both agreed that the next day, we would be going for a nice walk away from lots of people. That will be, of course, another post.

24 comments:

  1. Hello Meike:
    We know exactly what you mean about throngs of tourists. We have an aversion to them too. However, even in Venice, we can usually rely upon the fact that just a short distance from the usual tourist haunts there will be peaceful oases to enjoy. Verona does look to be exceedingly pretty, away from the madding crowds that is!!

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    1. Yes, it is pretty, although I don't think I would want to live there; the streets are just too narrow, it would have to be a place with some breathing space around it, maybe overlooking the river.
      As for the tourists - well, we were tourists ourselves, so I should not complain about the others, should I...

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  2. I think that I shall be driving near Verona in late August but I may just carry on past it to Tuscany and Umbria and rely on your photos in the album for my vicarious enjoyment of the place.

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    1. It is worth visiting, Graham, but I would not call it an absolute "must see".

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  3. Lovely photos! Do you use a camera? I've almost ditched mine becaus it's very complicated, and the phone is small, efficient and always THERE!

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    1. Thank you, Frances! Yes, all the pictures were taken with my camera. I am not very happy with the quality of pictures from my mobile phone (it is the first iphone, 3 years old now) and hardly ever use it for that.

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  4. Well it was lovely by the river, and to find a peaceful place to dine saved the day!
    In certain parts of California, there are so many throngs of people, that it becomes a habit to avoid them, this is the case with Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, but the last time I wanted to go to Ghiradelli Square (chocolate fame) and I knew what it would be so that now braced, I actually enjoyed it. And right across the street is a maritime museum and no one was there~ traveling is full of twists and turns is it not?
    xx
    julie

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    1. Is is, Julie!
      Yes, one has to be in the right frame of mind for the crowds, and then it can be fun. The scene at Giulietta's house was just too much, though.

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  5. Lovely photos of a city I enjoyed visiting, though preferably, like you, off the beaten track. I still have wonderful memories of attending a performance of La Traviata in the Arena at Verona.

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    1. It must be an occasion of a lifetime, I imagine.
      Last year in July, for RJ's birthday, we went to see La Traviata at the State Opera House in Stuttgart, it was a great performance but of course the setting of Verona's Arena is unique and makes for a very different experience.

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  6. Get away from the crowds, that is the best way to really see things. Your photos look really nice. Happy that you had such a good time.

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    1. I was really glad RJ suggested that river walk! There were other places further off on the other side of the river we would have liked to explore, but we still had to consider the drive back to Riva.

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  7. I'm with you. I would hate crowds like that. Your pictures of the buildings and streets are lovely, though.
    Have you seen the movie Letters to Juliet? Quite charming, and Vanessa Redgrave is beautiful and wonderful as always.

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    1. No, Nan, I have not seen the movie.
      There was so much more I would have liked to capture on pictures, but you know what it's like; I tried to soak up the views with my eyes and not just have the camera in front of my face all the time :-)

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  8. Beautiful pictures! We drove by Verona a few times, but never stopped there. Usually in a rush to see Venice. So I'm happy to enjoy your pictures which I can do without crowds at all!

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    1. Yes, I know of some people who have done a day trip from where we were based over to Venice, but it seemed a bit too long a drive for us, so Verona it was.

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  9. Never been to Verona, but it looks a very interesting city. Been to Venice, which I adore, although my husband wasn't so keen.

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    1. Never been to Venice myself; my Mum and sister have, and liked it very much.

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  10. I think I would enjoy anyplace! I think getting away from surroundings you are so acquainted with is a holiday! I just love the idea of being somewhere, any where that is unfamiliar! It is exciting, and not much bores me because I try and find adventure in the simpleist of places. I am such a people watcher. I wonder how many people are watching me and I watch them lol.

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    1. Hello Linda, nice to see you! I am hardly ever bored, either, and usually manage to find something good about each day and each place, and most people.

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  11. Even the most beautiful and interesting city, when crowded with tourists, becomes a tiresome place. Of course, f you choose to go in summer, that is what you will find. Finding the side streets, back alleys and areas off the beaten track is often so very rewarding, it's where the real people are to be found.

    You seem to have enjoyed yourselves away from the crowds.

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    1. Yes, Friko, it was indeed a good day trip, all things considered. And of course we can hardly complain about other tourists, being tourists ourselves :-)

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  12. thanks a lot for this beautiful trip!!

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    1. You are welcome, Elena - and thank you for stopping and leaving a comment here!

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