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Kel&Cez’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 19 Feb 2006

Location: Verona, Italy

MapHappy Birthday M&M (aka Jennifer and Wendy)!

It was dark and drizzling when we arrived in Verona but having already proved ourselves to be gluttons for punnishment, we again ignored our better judgement and decided our not-to-scale maps couldn't be that far out and decided to walk from the train station to our hotel. What we figured to be a 10 minute stroll turned into a 40 minute trek. Eventually arriving at our hotel, we were pleasantly surprised to find the hotel was located right on Piazza Erbe AND to be welcomed by a wonderfully accommodating, friendly and helpful host. Despite the hour, the lady on reception gave us a few options for dinner and we found out later that the one we chose is purportedly Romeo's old digs. Combined with a very "homely" meal and service, Verona was definitely starting to look up!

The new dawn arrived and with it, the sun returned. Piazza Erbe was a hive of activity with stall owners selling wares of all types and customers heavily bartering for goods. Great atmosphere! After a brief wander throughout, we decided to do some exploring of our own and set off down marble paved streets to The Arena. The Arena is a 1st Century (A.D.) Roman structure that is still in very good condition. Only the higher walls and arches have deteriorated (only a stand of four arches remain - see photos) and considering its age, the rest is in amazing condition. The Arena is to this day used for summer operas and concerts. For the rest of the day we just cruised around and I have to say, of the Italian cities visited so far, Verona has been my favourite (Siena a close second). It is very relaxing and full of charm whilst at the same time, has a modern feel.

The nextday we followed the river and went to visit the Duomo of Verona. Unfortunately, it was closed for restoration so we instead visited the zebra striped Church of San Zeno Maggiore which was rebuilt for the third time in 1120 (enlargements lasted until the 14th century). Although I was starting to get over visiting Churches and Cathedrals, this was an enjoyable visit and should you visit Verona, it is well worth making the effort to go and see it. On this day, we also crossed the Ponte Scaligero (1355). Although almost totally destroyed during WWII, restorative works were undertaken immediately and this red brick bridge/fortification to the Castlevecchio offers great views of the river and Verona City. Kel enjoyed it so much that she was running up and down the stairs to its high-points pretending she was involved in an ancient battle, protecting the Castle! We visited the grounds of Castlevecchio but did not enter as the rooms we wished to view were closed, again for restoration!

Later that afternoon, we undertook the big trek across the River Adige via Ponte Pietra (only remaining bridge in Verona from Roman times) to the ruins of a Roman Theatre (supposedly constructed in the second half of the 1st Century B.C.). Unfortunately, only parts of this obviously once impressive structure remain but is still well worth the visit and you must walk up the hill as the view from the Monastery of St Jerome over the Theatre and River Adige to Verona City is fantastic (partially shown on our photos)!

It was on the walk back to our hotel from this area that for the first time on our trip, we were caught in a big downpour. Poor Kelly, it was quite a walk back to the hotel and her sleeping bag of a coat isn't waterproof so she got totally soaked! Not happy Jan. However, a quick visit to Juliette's balcony and a brief interlude with her statue and Kel was all smiles again (see photos)!

On our last day, we simply milled about before making the wise decision to hail a cab for the trip to the train station (slowly learning). Verona was a great leg of the trip and I can't wait to go back and take in a show at The Arena!

Next stop, Loser in Austria for skiing/snow-boarding!

Love youse all,

Cez 'n' Kel xoxo.