Friday, May 10, 2013

An Anniversary to Remember in Verona, Italy

Well, the weather kept us hopping the whole time we were in Verona, bring the umbrella? bring a jacket? how to protect the camera, maybe just a plastic bag to tie over the whole thing?

Every time we left the room, we asked ourselves the same questions and always got it wrong, I guess a career in weather forecasting is not in the cards for Rose or I.

For all of our weather woes, it was still lots of fun. When we got to Verona on Monday afternoon we were a bit worn out from our last morning in Venice, hauling our bags to the train on the crowded vaporetto and getting to the hotel, unpacking and walking over to Piazza Bra (no, it's not short for brassier)

By the time we made it there, the rain started to drizzle a bit, so we opted for the touristy, hop on, hop off bus and we decided to just ride it around for the rest of the afternoon. They have 2 buses, the A bus and the B bus and they go to different parts of Verona so we did both and enjoyed getting the lay of the land without walking too much.

Verona from S. Leonardo

Riding the hop on hop off bus in Verona
We jumped off when the bus entered Piazza Erbe, it was so pretty and hopping with little sidewalk cafes and stalls selling fresh fruit cocktail, souvenirs and yummy gelatto and it was irresistible after our bus ride.

We spent a little time exploring and decided to check out Juliet's house which was nearby, but somehow we walked by it twice before finally finding it. Have you ever seen that movie, letters to Juliet? Well, now we have a little bit of an idea about how Hollywood does things, basically they create something that does not exist!

When we get home, we're going to watch it again, but I'm sure they filmed most of it somewhere else.

It's not that Verona isn't pretty because it is, but many of the alleys and streets are pretty straight and not quite as curvy and romantic as the director was thinking, and guess what, all those love notes tucked in little niches and crevices in the stone wall that you remember from the movie, uh-uh! Stuck to the wall with gross chunks of chewed up bubble-gum!

So much for romance.

But part of the disappointment with Juliet's house is probably related to the fact that every teen aged school kid in Italy happened to be on a field trip to Verona while we were there and about half of them were packed into the little courtyard as if there really was a Romeo and Juliet and the balcony, (added about a hundred years ago) was actually the one from the stories.
 The next day was great though, starting with a much better breakfast. We finally got some home-style cereal to go along with our super crunchy dry toast, yogurt and cappuccino at the help yourself breakfast bar.

We walked down to Piazza Bra, hopped the bus to the Roman theatre, and not knowing what to expect, we were really happy with what we found.

A bubble blowing mime entertains passersby

We had already heard from our host Luigi that you can hardly dig a hole in Verona without hitting some kind of Roman ruins or ancient artifact. He told us a story of digging at a property of his to change the sewer pipes and breaking into an underground chamber beneath his house. He did what most home or business owners would probably do in a similar situation in Verona, he covered it up and told on-one.....except us.....and now you, shhhhhh!

We weren't sure we believed him until we visited the Roman theatre that is built into the hillside with other later buildings built over top of it. "Discovered" in 1876 when someone began digging foundations for a new building is a beautiful ruin dating from 100 A.D. completely covered over with 1800 years of dirt and rubble.

Part of the Roman Theatre

Later we went for lunch in the Piazza Erbe and when we went to the washroom we found it was located downstairs in an ancient underground ruin with little arches and niches and stone steps leading off to who knows where. Now we believe, Luigi, sorry to have doubted you!

Ancient Roman bridge in Verona, (original stone is lighter coloured)
Since it was our 30th wedding anniversary and women are funny about that sort of thing and Rose wasn't in the mood for compromise with a quick pizza near the hotel, we took a taxi to a very nice local specialty restaurant that does traditional local cuisine.

The menu leaned heavily towards various different horse meat dishes that are apparently a local favourite. Neither of us were quite that adventurous though so we both ordered the fixed price menu that consisted of a first, and a second course, (basically 2 full meals each, I don't know how these people eat like this and stay so slim)

I wasn't sure what to order and the helpful waitress suggested.......pasta with DONKEY sauce! What? Who in the world eats donkeys?

All of my memories of donkeys are sentimental, when I was a kid, my sister and I would play a game about a fictional friendly donkey named Balello, somehow I always ended up playing that part, I wonder why?

Later when our kids came along we read them a little story book called Donkey, Donkey about a silly donkey who was ashamed of his big ears and tried all these different ways to hide them until he got some very good advice to just forget about looking like the other animals and just be himself.

Now, with all that baggage, this nice young lady was suggesting I EAT A DONKEY!
She assured me, "It's very good." So I of course said, "Oh, OK then."

I swallowed my guilt, (and the donkey) and we both thought it was quite good. We always do a little sharing of tastes and the pasta with duck sauce that Rose ordered was also quite good.

We had a nice walk back through the rainy streets and that was it for Verona, although we did pop in for a visit at their own version of a Roman arena, (third largest in Italy) and it's definitely worth a look. Verona was fun, but now it's on to Lake Como and the little town of Bellagio.

Roman Arena in Piazza Bra, Verona.

All Contents Copyrighted by the author, Doug Petry


  1. Haha, that's not another story! It's this story! GUH. THE SUSPENSE.

  2. Donkey huh? I know people who've eaten alligator, dog, and bear, but donkey takes the cake for most bizarre. I'm glad it was good and that you're enjoying your vacation! :D

    1. Thanks Amy, we sure are, lots of great scenes for photography!

  3. Well it's Saturday night and John and I are enjoying looking over your itinerary and reading your blog reliving our trip! Sounds like an eventful meal in Verona! So you'll be in Monterroso on Mother's Day! You'll have to try the seafood pasta at Ely's! We were fortunate to be there on a Sunday ourselves because it is a festive day there! It was very busy when we were there because all the Roman's were on their holiday season. It will be interesting to find out what a different time of year will be like. The newer side of Monterosso is where the speciality foccacia bread place is and the pesto foccacia is so amazing! On the same side of the street as you are on there is a little family owned bar advertising free wi-fi they have alot of food souvenier items and olive wood cutting boards. We bought an olive wood cutting board that they cut down from their own tree because they have only had their business there a couple of years, and that's were we bought the amazing pesto we brought back!:) Sounds like your having a wonderful time! PS Happy Mother's Day!

    1. We love our little suite and they are very nice. The people in the shop downstairs are great too, looks like a sunny day today might spend it at the beach!
      Love you guys, thanks for all the info.