Day 37: Verona: White, red, and black marble - Grampies Ride Again! - CycleBlaze

August 27, 2015

Day 37: Verona: White, red, and black marble

Breakfast today was the unfortunate Italian variety - croissant, coffee, and juice. We were ok with that this time, for two reasons. For one, the croissant had Nutella in it. But more importantly we are not cycling today. That means we do not need extra energy, and besides, being in a city all day means we can find any needed food any time.

Not needing the energy might have been a premature statement, because we discovered the "Verona Card". It turns out that absolutely everything in Verona, from churches to the Arena to Juliette's house charges an admission fee. For 18 euros each, a Verona card grants admission to them all. But of course, to make it a good deal you have to visit more than 18 euros worth of places. If you get tired, you can stop to rest, but that rest will "cost" you. As it turned out, we broke even. It was actually me that threw in the towel. I was hot and had lost my ability to tell one church from another. Dodie seemed stronger, but when at a souvenir shop she wanted to pay a 7 euro purchase with a 10 euro bill and a 1 euro coin in order to "just get a bill in change", some cracks were beginning to show there too.

It is not accurate to call today tiring, though. In fact it was wonderful. The ambiance is straight out of the movies, and the sights are really and truly fabulous.

I put marble in today's title, because marble is somehow a big part of the ambiance and sights. The sidewalks are made of marble. The massive buildings are marble. Floors in churches are marble, and the vaulted ceilings can be supported by marble columns. Gads, even the floor here in our two star hotel as I write this is marble!

Naturally churches made up the bulk of buildings that we went in to. But the day also included the outdoor, walking streets, and much fun at Juliette's house (and balcony). Here is a rundown of what we saw:

The Arena

This is the first century amphitheatre still in use for operas and pop concerts. Outside, yesterday, we found many Egyptian themed large statues, and assumed they were somehow from a nearby museum. It took an email from the erudite Sandra to surmise that a performance of Aida was coming up at the Arena. Right on. We watched them moving the props inside today.

For those as Verdi challenged as us, according to Wikipedia, Aida is set in the Old Kingdom of Egypt. In Aida " The Egyptians have captured and enslaved Aida, an Ethiopian princess. An Egyptian military commander, Radamès, struggles to choose between his love for her and his loyalty to the Pharaoh. To complicate the story further, the Pharaoh's daughter Amneris is in love with Radamès, although he does not return her feelings." Skipping to the end, we can tell you that the thing has a tragic, Romeo and Juliette - like conclusion!

There was a lineup to buy 10 euro tickets to get in to see the Arena. Remembering something we learned from a Rick Steves video, we bypassed this line and just walked in with our Verona cards. It was not obvious that one could do this, because like every other queuing scene we have experienced in Italy, there was chaos.

While the arena was interesting, it sure was not 10 euros interesting. It's a stone amphitheatre. Ok. Not a single lion or Christian in sight!

The 2000 year old arena at Verona
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Moving in the set for Aida
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Serious set moving eqipment at the arena. There is opera here almost every night in summer.
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The Duomo

This is not actually the largest church in town, but it is plenty large. The duomo, like all the other churches in town, takes the art of church decoration to new levels. It does this with dramatic marble columns, arches, and ancient frescoes. Also common, for here, are churches beneath the church, and revealed floors and foundations of even older churches beneath the old church. If, like Dodie, you are an archeology and antiquity fan, this is ground zero (until, I guess, we get to Venice, Florence, or Rome!)

The tower of the Duomo
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Characteristic striped exterior of the Duomo is also found at San Zeno church. It was the style in the 12th century, I think.
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Sumptuous interior of the duomo
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Marble floors are standard in Verona churches
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Chruches are built on older churches here. This is an archeological area at the Duomo
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In a lower section of the Duomo, one side of a baptismal font carved from a single block of marble.
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A floor beneath the floor at the Duomo
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Statue we liked outside the Duomo
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The Basilica of Santa Anastasia

This one is the largest church in Verona. It doesn't look like it from the front, and you can't really see its extent because there are buildings all around it. The facade is unfinished and not so impressive in general, but it makes up for this inside. Inside are extra high vaulted ceilings with very elaborate designs on the ribs, and actually, everywhere. There are also of course famous frescoes and paintings and stained glass. When you look at some of these really closely, they are especially unique and interesting. Pictured below (soon) is the Pisanello frescoe of St George and the Princess. Pisanello, of course, is a famous painter we never heard of! The little piece of stained glass I captured is from 1490.

The Church of San Anastasia has unique celings
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The frescoe of St George and the Princess
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Fun stained glass design at San Anastasia
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The dei Lamberti Tower

Dodie left me to go pay 70 euro cents to use a toilet, and I used the time to read an info panel about a three story building that was some sort of palace of justice. This was evidently right beside the Lamberti tower, which was our next objective. When we used our card to enter the tower, they said for an extra cash euro we could use the elevator. Hah, for three stories? We're not that old, I snorted. The info panel I had read talked about renovated chapels and suchlike, so I was surprised to find ourselves immediately on a dark staircase winding up beside an elevator shaft. Up and up the stairs went. How could any stirs go on for so long? Dodie's knees have been doing really well lately, so she gamely climbed, pausing only occasionally to repeat "Save one euro - you idiot!". We reached the top, alright - actually the top of the elevator. That's 243 steps. Then its 45 steps more to the first viewing platform. Another 79 steps go to the very top. We quit before that. I hate heights, and could only edge close to the railing slowly. Still you should find (soon) some good photos down to Verona, just below this text.

Verona as seen from half way up the Lamberti tower
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The San Anastasia chruch can be seen here from the Lamberti Tower
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the Piazza Erbe

This is a combination food market and souvenir bazaar. The food is limited to fruit stands and place with premade pizza and calzone. The fruit, though, is available in fancy cutup form, nicely arranged and colourful in tall clear plastic containers.

Our fruit cups in the Erbe market
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Pinochio at the market
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Our first Pope Francis tourist junk. We would hope to see lots more when/if we go to Rome
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The Piazza Erbe
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Colourful masks at the market
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In another block it will be all Juliette all the time!
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Dave, Local beer!
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Juliette's House

This was my favourite. It is a legitimate centuries old house that houses, in a lightweight way, museum pieces of furniture and dishes from the Romeo and Juliette era. There is also a replica of a Romeo and Juliette type bed, made for the 1968 movie, Romeo and Juliette. Of greatest interest in the balcony overlooking a small courtyard. Scads of tourist gather there, to photograph the balcony. You can also get your sweetheart to stand there for the photo!

People's attachment to the story is touching. It is because everyone understands love. On the walls leading to the courtyard, thousands of people have put their names as couples. If you look closely, you will see Steve and Dodie, 1967, there too!

(And hey, I got a Romeo and Juliette sticker in the giftshop!)

Juliette related books for sale. This seems to include the Kama Sutra!
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Juliette's dress
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The bed from the 1968 movie of Romeo and Juliette
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Juliette dishes
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My Juliette at her balcony!
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Tourists photograph my Juliette!
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S and D, 1967!
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The Church of St Fermo

Our last church for the day is built on the spot where two martyrs, Fermo and Rustico were tortured to death in 304. There are remains of these beneath the main altar.

As in other churches here, there is a lower church below the main church.

Inside the Church of St Fermo
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Frescoes columns deep beneath St Fermo church
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Many art works in the St Fermo church. Churches here are as much art galleries as religious institutions
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The Streets of Verona

Typical buildings of Verona
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A typical street of old Verona
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This was a private graveyard.
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Statue of Dante, who came here for refuge after being condemned to death in Florence.
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Archeology beneath a regular street in Verona
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Wow, we were beat!

After visiting all the spots mentioned above, we still technically had two left. But, time and strength were lacking. Dodie pointed out that we stilll needed to find the grocery, since we have no food left in stock. So I ignobly sent her off to find food, while I went back to the Albergo for a shower, and yes, to start this blog entry. Dodie arrived about an hour later. She was too beat for a shower, but was able to collapse for an hour. Then we were off to find Bjorn and Julia. Boy, we need to get back on the bikes for a rest!

Julia and Bjorn

We have been crossing paths with Julia and Bjorn ever since we first peppered them with UQ's about their Hase Pino tandem 10 days ago in Landsberg, Germany. Usually we would just say hi as they passed us, or vice versa, but this time we actually arranged to meet at a restaurant. What fun for us to have new friends from another country! We will remember them, and maybe dream up a route that will take us through their town. Their cycle ends here, but they still have to travel home by train, and tomorrow they get to look around Verona, just as we did today. Gute Reise, Julia and Bjorn!

A fun night out that we will nostalgically remember, with Julia and Bjorn, the Hase Pino riders from Dusseldorf.
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