So, some of you may not have noticed (due to my sly use of scheduling posts to publish – such a useful feature!), but I disappeared off to Italy with J for a week in mid-October. I hadn’t been on a proper holiday in years (I suppose the need / want to work in summer holidays and student terms just didn’t make a holiday work for me, and until getting a full-time job, the issue of holiday funds had always been a slight problem.
I finally managed to persuade J to take time off work at the same time as me, and off we galavanted to warmer climes and sunnier spaces (albeit a slightly stressed and tired Sarah, in much need of this holiday!). We decided on Italy as I’d never been there, and J had enjoyed the holidays there when he was younger. Although he’d been to northern Italy, he’d not been to Verona or Venice. It was more my idea to visit Verona than his, but I’m glad we did both, as both cities are so different from each other, and gave us two very different experiences of Italian city life.
This post is all about Verona though, so I’m not going to say anything more about Venice just yet (shh, that’s going to be talked about in a blogpost next week!).
We had decided to spend eight days in Italy in total (Saturday – Saturday), so bright and early on the 8th of October, we set off from a slightly chilly Cardiff and travelled to Gatwick, and from there, by plane to Verona. I was particularly nervous about the plane as I hadn’t been on one in fourteen years (the last time I had flown was when I was nine years old, on a 10-hour flight to Orlando, Florida). However, the plane was fiiiine. And quite pretty too once we escaped from all the clouds of Britain and flew into the nice sunny areas of mainland Europe. Plus it was only a 90 minute journey, so it went by really quickly (plus I fell asleep).
So at 4pm Italian time (GMT+1), we arrived on Italian soil, got a taxi to our nearby hotel, dropped our bags and
ran out and explored lay down for a nap (or at least I did… ah me of little energy!). We decided to just find a place to eat that evening and go back to the hotel again afterwards, to conserve energy for exploring on the Sunday.
The Sunday was spent visiting lots of touristy areas of Verona, albeit accidentally in the case of Juliet’s balcony (I realised when we were eating lunch that we were literally around the corner from the house, so it would clearly be a shame not to hustle our way through the crowds to catch a quick glimpse of it before we headed onwards).
The most of our time that day was spent exploring the Teatro Romano di Verona, an ancient Roman theatre to the north of the city, which we accessed via Ponte Pietra, one of the oldest bridges in the city. The theatre was built in 1BC, and is now used regularly for plays and operas (much like the larger Arena in the centre of West Verona). The museum encompasses both the Roman theatre, and the remains of the Roman buildings built above it, which house a collection of Roman stonework and other artifacts found around Verona. It also had a beautiful view of the Western area of the city across the river.
The city has lots of tall houses, and large open piazzas (not the food…. they’re like large pedestrianised squares, some with parks in the middle, like Piazza Brà, and some with a permanent market, like Piazza Erbe, and others just with a statue or monument of an important Italian figure).
In baking-related fun, we did in fact come across a statue of Garibaldi in the park that we ate our lunch in on the Sunday:
We also visited the Arena on Sunday afternoon (Verona’s massive amphitheatre, conveniently situated just round the corner from our hotel), and whilst J seemed to have fun walking energetically up and down the large steps, I struggled a little bit (I partly blame it on the fact that the steps were knee-height for my little legs, and partly on the fact that the strange and slightly dangerous coincidence that my shoes had no grips on the soles, and some of the stones were similar to polished quartz – eek!).
The Monday was a lot calmer, as we’d seen most of the sights, so we decided to meander along Verona’s town walls, and find the Gardino Giusti, to the east of the city.
The gardens were hidden away behind a grey building, which looked like all other buildings along the street. This made it even more magical to see such greenery hidden behind the tall walls. The gardens stretch up the hillside, with a spectacular view at the top of the entire city of Verona.
Of course, the food in Verona was fantastic (I ate pizza and gelato, and for some reason, be it no stress or maybe the way they produce dairy over in Italy, neither foodstuff made me feel ill… so I ate lots of both…!). The gelato in particular was amazing. It’s not like British ice cream: It’s far more creamy in texture, but also lighter, so it feels far more refreshing than sickly. The flavours are also far better: the chocolate is far less sweet, slightly bitter even, like dark chocolate, and the melon flavour was as refreshing as eating a chunk of real melon itself.
One of the charming aspects of our hotel room was the fact that the decor was painted onto our walls: butterflies were hand painted above our electric sockets and on one entire wall of our room.
The view from our room was also beautiful, and we were woken up the first morning by the church bells ringing rather chaotically right outside of our window at 7.45am. Here’s the view from our window below:
The three days felt like they were action packed but were hugely enjoyable. Verona felt very open and spacious (especially in comparison to Venice, but that’s for another post…!). One of my favourite moments of Verona was eating outside one of the many restaurants that spread out onto the pavements of Piazza Brà, right outside of the Arena and the night fall and the busy footfall of people in the evening, going to restaurants and bars.
And if all this sounds confusing (‘how did they see that… where is that?’), here’s a little, slightly crazy-looking map of where we ended up wandering on Sunday:
… And on Monday:
(Goodness me, what a lot of words… those who made it to the end of this post without looking away, yawning, and hoping that the next paragraph was the last paragraph, well done! A virtual cupcake goes out to you in gratitude for putting up with my bloffling – see, blog and waffling in one word, what can I say, I’m
a genius too ridiculous for my own good).