Verona – Day 1
We packed and are on the move again …… to the city of Romeo and Juliet …….
The train from Venice to Verona is only 1 hour and 10 minutes (travelling 180 kmph). This time we arrive at the Venice station only 35 minutes prior to boarding. All the trains travelling west (ie Milan, Verona) are set for platform 12 or higher, so we park beside that entrance while Gerda does some “catch n release”.
Around 15 minutes prior to departure and the platform is announced as #3 …. okay, where is Gerda? 10 minutes to departure, she saunters up, having forgotten to “release”. We scoot down to platform 3 and get safely nestled on board, in our seats. For the first half of the trip it rains very hard, finally tapering off so we arrive to cool but dry weather.
The train platforms are above the station so you go down 30 stairs, walk to the main corridor and out through the entrance. Taxi and bus service is accessed through a different entrance …. there was a line up of about 15 people and only two taxis. Needless to say we waited 15-20 minutes before we caught a cab.
Our hotel, Palazza Victoria is located in the historical centre of Verona. When we tell the driver where to go, he says “Number one”. It certainly wasn’t what I expected …. turns out it’s a 5 star hotel ….. old exterior but very modern interior. The irony is this is probably the cheapest hotel, price wise, we’ve been in so far. As with all European hotels, they make a copy of our passports, we sign-in and get our key to the room ….. third floor, but not much of a view. The room is the best we’ve had, quite lovely.
After securing everything, we go for a walk to have a coffee and a bite to eat. It is the coolest temperature since we started, so Gerda goes back to the room for a warmer jacket ……. while Brian has another cold beer. When she gets back, we go further into the old city …. she’s obviously on a mission! After 10 blocks, the crowds become huge, so she turns left and says “We’re here!” …… I’m thinking “more food?” …… but it turns out to be Juilette’s balcony (from the movie “Letters to Juilette”).
I’m surprised she found it so quick! … but boy is it crowded.
Everyone wants a picture of the wall of notes or the statue of Juilette ……. guys included. The movie seems to have commercialized the area ….. so it has lost some of it’s charm ….. a shame.
Next on tap, rest and plan Monday’s activities for a local wine tour …. lots of choices. Then off to dinner at a place we had seen earlier in the day, “Osteria Sgarzarie” (in Corte Sgarzarie, 14/A – 37121 Verona). Gerda ordered the mozzarella, tomato salad and the whitefish meal, while I ordered the prawn pesto meal. The salad was very good, normally I can’t eat cheese; however, no problems with this salad. When the fish came, we were fascinated to watch (I recorded it below) how it was done ….. quite the art! Gerda said the meal was absolutely delicious, as was my pasta pesto and prawn meal.
The servers were excellent ….. thanks to server Greta and the rest!
The following is a video of serving the whitefish meal ….. an art to separate the meat from bones.
One final note for the first day in Verona, while we were out for dinner the hotel staff came in to our room, fixed the bed for the night and placed bottles of water on both side tables …… impressive!
Must be one of the reasons they are a five star hotel ……
Verona – Day 2
Next ….. prepping for a wine tour. There are about 8 tours available …. the most likely looks like the one called “Soave and Amarone Wineries” where we travel through both of the famous Soave and Valpolicella countrysides. Two wineries and multiple different unique wines within a 4 hour period.
We did snag seats on the 2:00pm tour by “Pagus” …… more to follow.
Now for a stroll to the Verona Arena (old Roman amphitheatre) to walk around the site.
According to the posted signage, this one was older and possibly the prototype for the Colosseum in Rome ….. it is used quite extensively for outdoor concerts. All the lower stone seats are now refitted with modern metal seats …… the area originally could accommodate around 30,000 people but only handles a maximum of half or 15,000 (which ever is smaller) people …… a good crowd at a Rider game except the playing field would be too small.
It has always fascinated me how well the Romans build their structures. Their concrete has withstood the ages.
After that we had a quick bite so we would be ready for the 4 hour wine tour, which started at 2:00pm.
If you forget everthing else we say, at least remember the name Sofia Zanotti (tour guide) and Pagus Wine Tours ….. simply the best!
If you ever wanted to tour wineries … this is the person and the tour to take. We had a fabulous time …. not only did she talk with passion about wines (their evolution, texture, aroma and taste), but she also talked intimately about the local history and sites (sights?) of the region. Amazing knowledge, covering wine and history from many different points of view. Always entertaining, always approachable and quick to smile & laugh.
On this tour we were fortunate to have several lovely ladies as companions. They were from Norway, Brita Thuv and her daughters Anita Nygard and Linda Einarsrud. It was a pleasure to share experiences and many sample-glasses of very good wine.
……… Tessari Winery ………
To start the tour, we met by the statue across from Castelvecchio. After introductions, we climbed aboard the van and proceed to the first stop – Tessari Winery – with Sofia giving us background on the wines, the winery, the vineyards in between, the styles of grape growth, the town’s in between, the past rulers of the region, the reason for (insert your own question here) …… yes – that good!
When we got to the winery, we were greeted by Cornelia Tessari.
After a tour of the winery, we proceeded to the tasting room. Love the decor ….. obviously setup for maximum enjoyment of the wine samples and to stimulate conversation.
We sampled 5 ….. or was it 6 white wines? …. regardless they were all very good. Gerda preferred the “Bine Longhe”, and I tended to agree with her. Although it doesn’t take much for her to get “tipsy”, she does know a good wine when she tastes it.
They even had a red dessert wine – which can be paired with many foods and …… ta da ….. biscotti …… yes they really do go well together.
And if anyone knows Brian, when he has had too much wine he has trouble enunciating, so saying biscotti was quite funny!
………… Fasoli Gino ……….
After thank-you’s and good-bye’s we proceeded to the next winery – Fasoli Gino. When we arrived we were greeted by Paolo Zivelonghi, who proceeded to pour us a sample glass before taking us on a quick tour of the winery. The impressive part was the huge oak barrels stored below ground to control the humidity and temperature.
Of the wine we tasted at Fasoli Vino, Gerda liked the Amorone the best. Each one had it’s unique quality.
The tour group including Sofia on the far left, Brian, Brita, Gerda, Anita & Linda.
Verona – Day 3
Today we decided to take a day off ……. except how do you take a day off when on vacation? So we didn’t; however we were delayed due to heavy rain, then we went to Castel S. Pietra for a view of the city. Below are a few pictures from the Castel (castle):
For mid-afternoon, we went shopping, I kept guard outside while Gerda did her “catch and release” and re-catch ….. several times. We will have to buy another piece of luggage to bring back all her catch.
We also checked out the Arena night-performance for Tuesday ….. apparently it’s an Italian pop star named Elisa. Since we weren’t going, we decided to eat at an outdoor restaurants beside the Arena to see what the fuss was. The show started at 9:00pm with the first song ending in a loud bang – confetti shot into the inside and outside the Arena …… the crowd obviously loved her show, judging by the applause, you can hear it and see the confetti in the attached video:
That was the end of our “do nothing day” …. catch us on the other side of tomorrow.
Wednesday, September 13 – Final wrap on Verona: Breakfast, a quick walk to S. Pierre bridge for one last look and a video of the area ……. attached below.
Beautiful, charming place ….. if we get a chance we will be returning.
A note about our bathroom shower …. it’s a good thing both of us are not portly, as the stall is rather small and crammed. When you turn you can quite easily hit the shower taps ….. so not the best, we just have to remember how to move in a way that keeps us from accidentally changing the water temperature.
Everything else is great!