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 cafés, 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 :-)