04 January 2016

In Fair Verona

Arriving in a new city is always an interesting adventure. Some cities are gorgeous from the start. The small places in Germany, Paris, Rome...these are all pretty, or else impressive, when you arrive.

Then there are the cities that drop you at a bus or train station that seems to be in the middle of Sketchville. Or those that make the city look like it's entirely industrial. Venice was one of those places. If you stop at the Mestre station, part of your brain can't combine the facts of "I'm in Venice" and "This is Venice." It's just not very pretty until you get to the actual island.

Verona's train/bus station lives in an odd place between Sketchville and It's So Pretty I'm Gonna Die. We arrived during a slow time, and most things looked kind of bland. At first I worried that Verona was going to be more like Milan than Venice. But once you go a few bus stops to the Arena, Verona is THE CUTEST.

Everything you need to see in Verona (as in, the big name sites like the duomo and Juliet's balcony/house) is in a couple of miles' radius. We had a room in a tiny B&B just two minutes from the arena--essentially a mini colosseum. It was a fantastic location, and even though we we only a few seconds from the big things, we spent a few hours walking around.

One of the things I love about Italy is the architecture. Even though most of the buildings look like they were designed by the exact same person, there's something eternally charming about iron balconies and red-tiled roofs. I have so many pictures of multicolored streets with iron balconies covered in small gardens. And the shutters! I just don't think you can beat the look of an old town center in Italy or France. When I get home I probably won't be able to separate which city each photo goes to. But I don't really care. I'll keep taking pictures of random buildings until my phone fills up.

If Venice is a magical labyrinth, Verona is the opening scene of a Disney princess movie. I suppose that makes sense, since Shakespeare put Romeo and Juliet there. Cute town = romance, right? And "quaint" doesn't quite cover it, but it gets relatively close. So, how about "quaint romantic"? As if that can't describe every city and town in Europe. Ha.

If you ever get the chance, go to Verona. Just don't spend too much time at Juliet's house...we were there on a Sunday afternoon and it was PACKED. to get inside the courtyard, we simply inserted ourselves in the crowd and let it carry us to the right place. If you pay a few euro you can go in the house and stand on the balcony, but why do that when you can stand in the bustling cortyard and watch people creepily caress a statue of Juliet? Apparently it's good luck to rub her right breast...some people do it comedically. Some do it like pedophiles.

In general, if you see a crowd of people walking toward something, follow them. We ended up at the base of a castle (well, we think it was a castle...or monastery? Something?) with a fantastic view of the entire city. The sun was setting in fog and gathering rainclouds. There are few things better than watching a sunset while surrounded by Italian couples making out. Wait...not that last part. That was just slightly awkward.

For dinner we went to what felt like an Italian Chili's; Bri was starving and our first plan ended up being a bit too expensive, so we stopped at the first place we found. I ate an entire pizza by myself. Because Italian pizza. You need no reason besides that.

The super fun part of Verona happened when we left this morning. We had a 9:40 train from Verona Porta Nuova. The bus + walking inside the station would take 13 minutes. We were walking out the door at 9:10 and the owner Carmelina--for some reason behind me--just couldn't figure out how to add three person's worth of tourist tax to our room price. We stood there for ten minutes while she tried to add random numbers. Steph offered her a calculator, which she refused for five minutes. Carmelina spoke only Italian, and she kept saying things and nodding and mentioning numbers and shaking her head, and Stephanie looked up how to say "Our train leaves at 9:40" and only then did Carmelina think to call someone named Roberto whom it took about 3 seconds to add up our total and get us on our way.

At 9:30, we ran, backpacks and all, to the taxis.
At 9:33, we got in the taxi.
At 9:39, Bri and I ran into the station while Steph essentially threw 7 euros at the taxi driver.
And at 9:40:30, Bri and I arrived on Platform 3 just in time to watch the last few cars disappear down the tracks.

Few things start the day off as well as missing a train first thing in the morning.

Thankfully, there was a train leaving at 10:02 for Turino which would also stop in Milan, where we were meant to change trains for Geneva. We had to buy new tickets for the Verona-Milano leg, but our Milano-Geneva tickets were still fine.

I'm actually impressed we've only missed that one train so far (if you don't count that one German train that was late--totally not our fault).

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