Venice Day 8- Verona, Castel Vecchio, & Visiting Juliet

June 11, 2017 Sunday

Sunday was the day that we all decided to take a trip to Verona. In order to make the most out of our time there, since we decided on only a day trip, we booked one of the earliest trains there. So, I woke up at 6:30 am, got dressed and ready, and packed my bag with everything I would need for the trip (money, wallet, passport in case I needed ID, camera, sunscreen, sunglasses, chapstick, and some other random bits and bobs). The first vaporetto of the day left at 7:10, and at 7:05 one of my roommates and I were sprinting towards the stop to make it on time. Once on the vaporetto to the San Marco stop, we met up with the other six girls going with us. We were the only people on the boat other than a woman with her suitcase (most likely going to the airport) since it was so early.

When we arrived at the San Marco vaporetto stop, we had to go to another stop in order to take a different vaporetto to the train station (the vaporetto in Venice are like buses in major cities, with certain ones going to specific places in the city). We arrived at the train station around 7:50 and since none of us had eaten any breakfast yet, we stopped into a cafe in the station (after we had located our train of course). I ate a blueberry muffin with a small cappuccino (I know, I know you’re all shocked that I didn’t order an espresso. Sometimes a girl has to change it up a bit). We got on the train in groups as we got our food, and managed to find 8 seats together. About three minutes before the train was supposed to leave, two girls from our group were still not on board. We started to get concerned when, like out of a movie, they walked down the aisle towards us just as the train was leaving the station. Apparently one of them had spilled her coffee and the cafe had kindly replaced it for her, but it was a close call.

During the hour and a half train ride from Venice to Verona, we talked in our respective groups of four and admired the view of the countryside outside the window. When we arrived in Verona, we were met at the station by Francesca’s friend, Joan, who was there taking a class. She showed us which bus to take from the station to get to our first destination: The Colosseum. When we stepped off the bus, we were greeted by this beautiful fountain surrounded by lush green grass and sweltering heat. Maggie had Rick Steve’s guidebook from which she gave us interesting facts throughout the day about the various places we visited. At the Colosseum, only a few of us went inside of it while the others waited outside (you had to pay to go in). The “inside” was really a bunch of amphitheater seats in the open air, but it was amazing to see. On the stage there were men setting up a set for an upcoming performance that I think was going to take place there. Even though it was only 10:30 am, it was brutally hot, so I sat down and put on some sunscreen. Then I took pictures along with some of my friends.

After the Colosseum, we met up with the others and made our way to Centro Storico. Along the way we stopped into some of the stores lining the street. Six of us decided to buy some macaroons at a little French pastry shop, then we looked into a perfume store, and finally we made it to Centro Storico. Here, we followed the signs to the house of Juliet (from Romeo and Juliet) and went into the famous courtyard. It was packed with people. There was a mob of people trying to take a picture holding the breast of the Juliet statue because apparently this is good luck in love (I mean Juliet didn’t seem to have too much luck in love considering both she and her lover died, but I guess it’s the myth of Juliet). Naturally we had to partake in this tradition as well. Then, a couple of the girls decided to go up to Juliet’s balcony and take some pictures there, so while they did that I went into the gift shop and bought some postcards as souvenirs.

When we finally left the mass of people in Juliet’s courtyard, we made our way down to Joan’s apartment building where we met up with a couple of her friends. Then we split into two groups of about five people each to get lunch since we all wanted to eat at different places. The place my group went to, Osteria del Bugiardo, was lovely,  had amazing food, and was very reasonably priced. We decided to share a meat platter, a cheese platter, and a vegetable platter which was filling and delicious, and was less than 7 euro each when we split the bill. By the time we met up with the others after lunch it was 2 pm.

We went to a beautiful church called La Basilica di Santa Anastasia. Inside there were beautiful paintings and an incredibly elaborate ceiling that was difficult to look up at but breathtaking to behold. We were also given the electronic tour information electronic device that gave a history of the painting or sculpture I was standing in front of. There was a little chapel in the back where people could go, so I went in and said a little prayer. We left a little while later and walked to the square where the statue of Dante is placed. In it there was a gelato place where I and a couple other girls decided to treat ourselves. I chose a wonderful mix of limone (lemon) and fragola (strawberry) which tasted divine. As we continued down the road and after I had finished my ice cream, we found a beautiful picture location where we paused to take some snapshots. Just off of this were various cafes so we split into two groups depending on what refreshment we wanted. I went to get an espresso to wake me up while some of the others went to get gelato.

After we had some food and drink in us, we brightened up and continued on our way. We found the Duomo di Verona and I went inside along with 3 others, Caroline, Rachel, and Maggie. Inside to the immediate right when you walk in is the small chapel room with a giant basin as the main focal point. To the left when you walk in is a hallway that could go to two different rooms. The room more straight was the area where you can look down and see the exposed foundation, but it also had an altar and some pews set up like a small church. The room more towards the back and to the left was the main Cathedral area which was ornately decorated with the most exquisite artwork, organ, and marble. The dome, which was the main focus, was off to the side in the center. It was  intricately decorated and painted with such pleasing images of angels. After about half an hour of looking around, we left to meet up with the others who were having some drinks across the street.

We decided to end our tour of Venice with the Castel Vecchio before getting dinner which is precisely what we did. We entered under the arched structure after crossing a small wooden bridge. Once across the bridge, there was a magnificent courtyard, so green and lush. After I had bought my ticket, I was told I would have to leave my backpack in a cubby, so I paid one euro (which I got back at the end) to store it in a locked cubby. The lower rooms were all sculptures, while on the second and third floors there were a lot of different paintings from the late 15th, 16, and 17th centuries. Many, if not all, of the paintings were religious in some way, either depicting the saints or depicting the Virgin Mary with Jesus (Madonna and Child). They were all really interesting to look at because of how long they have lasted over the centuries. but after a while it is difficult (for me at least) to look at the same concept displayed over and over in each painting. At last, one of the last things we did at the castle was go up to the top where we could see pretty much the entire city and where we could look out into the river below. There was also a brick build walkway that was the bridge between the multiple buildings of this castle where I looked down into the courtyard of the front entrance and was mesmerized by the completely different views.

At this point, it was around 7 pm and we were tired, hungry, and mainly just wanted to take a load off our feet. We went into one shopping store (OVS) for about 15 minutes then headed back to the Colosseum which is where we were first dropped off by the bus in the morning. There, we found a great restaurant right in front with a perfect view of the Colosseum and some reasonable prices. I believe it was called Ristorante Pizzeria Olivo, and the food there was delicious. I ordered some kind of pasta with tomato sauce and eggplant topped with a giant prawn, and it was so good. Iulia, Fidelia, and I also split a tiny bottle of wine that was about 0.375 liters, which was about 1 1/4 glasses each. When we finished our food, we walked to the bus stop and took the bus back to the train station where we then waited for about an hour. While waiting, we looked at the pictures from the day, we talked about what we had seen and done, and I read a bit of Plato’s Phaedrus for class.

The train arrived around 21:50 and by 22:00 we had departed Verona. Unfortunately, this train was a fast train and we had assigned seats in different cars so we had to split up. But, luckily for me, Iulia and Maggie were also in my car and it was pretty empty, so I abandoned my assigned seat to sit with them. It was a pretty tame ride where we joked and chatted the hour away. But, there was some commotion when someone came to check tickets because this group of people sitting a few seats away from us did not have any tickets and were escorted out of the car. After they left, I heard some raised voiced and then never saw them again. Other than that, not much else transpired. By the time we arrived back in Venice, it was about 23:15 and we knew we were not going to make the 23:30 vaporetto back to San Servolo. That meant that we would have to wait another hour for the 12:30 vaporetto, and by this this point in the night we were all exhausted. So we took the vaporetto from the train station to the San Marco stop, then transferred over to the San Zaccaria stop. The half hour ride there wasn’t too difficult because I sat outside and looked at Venice by night under the beautiful, almost orange, full moon.

We waited at the San Zaccaria stop for about 45 minutes, during which time I continued to read. Everyone was so tired that we passed the time pretty much in silence. When the vaporetto finally arrived around 12:45 am, we shuffled on and looked out into the night as we rode towards San Servolo, our home. After such a long day, I was glad to be back. But, because there are three of us sharing a room, I did not get to shower until 1:30 am and didn’t go to sleep until around 2:15 am. But even though I had class the next morning, it was all worth it to see the beautiful city of Verona.

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Ciao for now!

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