Two Gentle People in Verona

It would be easy to get used to having breakfast served to you in a walled garden by a charming hostess. We’ll choose to ignore reality for a while longer.

We walked to the train station after breakfast to hop on a train to Verona. I know that many Americans believe in American exceptionalism in all things, but we’re here to tell you that the trains are just plain better here. After a perfectly restful forty-minute ride, we arrived at the station in Verona.

Verona has a large, intact Roman arena that was built fifty years before the Colosseum in Rome. Verona’s Arena is still being used today. Bocelli did two concerts here last week and a big opera festival begins tomorrow. After checking out the Arena we walked around the old city for a while.

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I have a theory about Italians and the French when it comes to signage. The French put up lots of directional signs so tourists don’t need to ask the locals for directions. The French win. The tourists win. The Italians rarely put up directional signs so tourists will walk around getting tired and will then need to stop for aperitifs or gelatos. The Italians win. The tourists win. According to my FitBit, we over walked eleven miles today.

While wandering in Verona, we found the Castelvecchio (old castle),

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The view from the castle walls

the famous Piazza Erbe,

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The market in Piazza Erbe was in full swing today.
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This whale bone has hung under the arch for centuries.

the tombs of the Scaligere family,

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and the St. Zeno church.

The church was first renovated in the 14th century. It was built in the 900s.
The church was first renovated in the 14th century. It was built in the 900s.
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Saint Zeno
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A fresco of the Last Supper with scorpions on the table as a symbol for betrayal
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The artist of the huge bronze doors included himself in one of the scenes
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One of the sixty or so scenes on the doors
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The writing in graffiti from centuries ago

Perhaps the best find of the day was our lunch spot. We had researched several places before we left home. There was one that we picked in large part because of its name. We hunted down, and finally found, La Bottega della Gina. (Thanks, Gina, for the inspiration!) Gina makes — among other things — tortelloni, and we had the sample plate of all eight of today’s flavors. These aren’t tiny tortelloni that you buy in a box. Today’s flavors included 1) olive, 2) burrata and porcini, 3) polenta and taleggio, 4) mozzarella and oregano with spinach pasta, 5) potato, 6) spicy calabrese salami, 7) radicchio and speck, and 8) pepperoni and cheese. Gina cooks your pasta while you wait, then removes them from the water to toss them in a pan with butter, then covers them generously with parmesan. Yup — all were amazing.

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Is your mouth watering?
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A fine, fine lunch

When we returned to Vicenza, we walked around some more and went to the Olympic Theater. It was built by local architectural legend Palladio in 1585 (Vicenza and its surroundings are a treasure trove of Palladio’s buildings, including several of his villas). It is amazing that it is still standing because much of it is wooden. The stage has an extremely foreshortened backdrop — a bit of trompe l’oeil that was way ahead of its time.

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The stage has three openings that are scenes from a town.

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We returned to Portico Rosso to cool off a bit before dinner. We then walked to a self-service restaurant in the old part of the city. We read up on what to do so we wouldn’t embarrass ourselves. You choose a table and set the table yourself as a way of claiming it. You then go inside and pour your drink into whatever size container you want from the taps that include water, wine, beer, and who knows what else. Then you go to the cooks and tell them what you want. They hand you your food and you take it back to your table. You can go back to the cooks as often as you’d like. When you are finished, you go to the cashier and tell her what you had. We took pictures of our food and just showed her the pictures.

 

Somehow we found a gelato shop between the restaurant and the B&B. Go figure.