Verona Day 2:
We woke up at 6 having struggled through the night with the quiet of our hotel, we’d found a little low cost 3 star in Verona. Albergo Trento off the main drag – Porta Nuova leading into Verona’s inner city. After a quick breakfast and preparations for the day we grabbed my pack and headed out to get a better look at the city. We broke into centro (center) and we started on our path toward the river. Verona’s core city is formed inside one of the larger undulations of the Adige River. Following the ancient city walls, heralded by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet and split in form by a schism between the church and state we arrived on the River’s fortified banks. As we trudged across a long bridge we reached the outer city and began our circle around the point. Inside the city the steeples of the great churches break through the ancient buildings, while the roman ruins of the coliseum and amphitheater sit opposite each other on the shore. In roman times the arena was located outside the city walls and the amphitheater across the river from the centrally planned city. It’s interesting to consider that the two major areas for entertainment and violence in the roman world sat outside the city walls. As the Christian king took over Rome he expanded the city and fortified the walls adding tripling the size of the protected city. As renaissance arrived the city once again expanded and redesigned its walls adding to them the fortifications and raised sloping walls devised by the master Leonardo Da Vinci.
The modern city expands only slightly beyond these massive renaissance limits, with the bus and train stations firmly set outside the city walls. We came around to the renaissance reconstruction of the roman bridge at the tip of the point, the ponte di pietra. Across the bridge we found a narrow winding path leading up up up. We started on our trek, the long sloped steps leading us steadily toward the top of the mountain. As we rose into the sky we found a side gate leading into an ancient abandoned garden, now opened to the public its rusted iron gate melted by the ages. We stood in the open grass and looked out for the first time across Verona. The view from the height was stunning, the churches, city streets cutting through creating narrow rivulets in the solid reddened stone of the city. We rested, had an apple and continued on up the path toward the elusive castle. When we reached the final stretch we found Verona framed by a row of tall thin trees. The effect of the manicured trees and the city lined up in the slats was fantastic. We finished our climb and reached the castello. We wandered around the edges and saw the full extent of the city reaching back into the valley’s on this side of the river. We then continued up to the top of the fortifications at the crest of the hill. Toppled walls and overgrown watchtowers framed the view of the city. Picturesque and tranquil it was the perfect way to end the morning.
As afternoon approached we arrived at the bottom of the steep path and continued around the other side of the point, watching the Duomo and working our way toward the city castle and its famous bridge. We stopped at a PAM super market outside the city and picked up lunch and then headed to the bridge and castle. After arriving we waited comfortably on the fading fortifications along the bridge and then headed into the castle itself. Preserved and almost untouched the castle was a prime example of Veronese construction. As we wandered through the sloping path leading into the city we passed an Italian man singing and playing his guitar, a few cents poorer we continued on into the inner city.
First we returned to Piazza Bra, and then continued into the northern city searching for a FNAC to replace four of our fading rechargeable batteries. We find the replacements after wandering through piazza’s and narrow Veronese streets. Then we head toward the Duomo and along the far riverside from inside the city, snapping pictures along the way we’ve all decided that this would be the place to live. Very little graffiti, clean, ordered, and although expensive not prohibitive. We end our evening in a hidden trattoria with spaghetti carbonara and Tagliatini con Boscailo. Then we head to the hotel and crash for the night. Tomorrow we’re headed to Padova – bright and early we’ll catch the 8:34 train to Venice and hop off at Padova.