Thursday 17th July.
We are parked up tonight in an Italian Sosta in Verona just a ten minute walk to the city centre. We arrived in Verona about mid-day to discover our first parking choice was a building site, as was our second. As we drove about punching co-ordinates into the Sat Navs we could see signs for motorhome parking (Sosta) but then after a couple of junctions/roundabouts the signs would disappear. After driving around Greece with hardly any traffic I'm finding it hard work in the towns in Italy, trying to follow two arguing Sat Navs, follow road signs and take the necessary evading tactics required due to the majority of Italian drivers apparently being on a death wish. And don't even ask about the scooters. We headed for a massive car park which was almost full but managed to just squeeze in to a spot. We locked everything up and went off to explore the town and as we walked out of the car park there, again, were the Sosta signs. I couldn't be bothered to move the van again so we continued on into town, stopped for a spot of lunch and then explored the Castel Vecchio, a C14th red brick fortified castle on the banks of the river Adige. The castle itself is impressive with it's accessible fortifications and a bridge over the river but the bonus is the city museum, housed within, which has a large collection of Renaissance paintings and medieval sculptures including a Rubens and other famous fourteenth and fifteenth century artists. The paintings were not behind barriers or ropes and you could get right up close to them to admire their beauty and the detail. There were also many of the original castle frescos which had survived, the colours still vibrant. It was one of the best museums we have visited although after a couple of hours it was a case of "If I see one more Maddona and Child or Crucifixion......"
We set off back to the car park but checked out the Sosta first,which was a little further on and then moved the van the five hundred metres to where we are now. There are about thirty motorhomes here with registration plates representing most of Europe but, once again, we are the only Brits. Where are all the English motorhomers? France and Spain I'm guessing. We've certainly been ploughing a lonely furrow over the last few months. Anyway, Verona has much more to offer so we have decided to stay another day so we'll explore more of the city tomorrow and then head off to Lake Garda tomorrow afternoon.
A detail from a C15th Madonna and Child.
Christ in his sepulcher.
The Castel Vecchio.
Friday 18th July.
We decided to stay another night in Verona. We were going to set off this afternoon for lake Garda but we spent so much time sightseeing in Verona today that it was too late really for a drive. Verona really is a lovely city with large and small Piazzas, courtyards and a wealth of beautiful buildings, towers and churches. Today we visited the Arena, an enormous Roman amphitheater which is still in use today for operatic performances. Built in the first century AD much of the outer ring was damaged during an earthquake in 1117 but the inner part is still intact. Climbing up to the top tier you can really get the scale of the place and walking around the concourse with it's massive archways and wide entrances you can only marvel at the building and engineering skills employed two centuries ago.
The Giardino Giusti is a formally laid out Renaissance garden with grottoes, labyrinths and a spectacular view over the city from the Belvedere at the top of the hill. The shops around the Piazza dele Erbe contain the usual international suspects but the top Italian designers are also, obviously, represented; Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada etc plus some smaller shops with some fabulous wares on offer - at fabulous prices of course. We had a tasty meal at a slow food movement restaurant which specialised in horse and donkey dishes. We both had pork based dishes! We also discovered a new aperitif, Aperol Spritz. 2 parts Aperol, 3 parts Prosecco and one part soda water. Plenty of ice and a slice of orange. Mmmm delicious and refreshing.
We've really enjoyed our visit to Verona and it's a city we would come back to again. Here and Vicenza have been the highlights of Italy so far for us and whilst this country can be expensive, by eating and shopping a little off the beaten track it's not too bad. Just don't buy diesel!
The beautiful small Chiesa Di S. Maria Antica.
View across the city.