Verona the center of verona is compact and ...

Trip Start Apr 01, 2001
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Tuesday, June 19, 2001

VERONA

The center of Verona is compact and easy to walk around. Its two main sites are, the Arena (where they hold their famous Opera Festival), and Juliette's balcony. Once again, our timing was off, the Opera Festival doesn't start for another week. We did, however, visit Juliette's Balcony ... which was rather disappointing as it is covered in grafitti. Most people seemed more interested in groping the bronze statue of Juliette - her right breast is very well polished!


DUEVILLE

We were met at Vicenza station by our friends Davide and Chiara and were whisked back to their house to meet Milena (Chiara's sister) and Mario (their father). What luxury to stay with friends rather than hostelling. Not only do they have a washing machine, but Chiara insisted on taking care of it all. Fancy us letting a pregnant woman do our chores for us!

Davide, Chiara and Milena kept us very well entertained. We were driven all over the place:-

- Marostica; with its two castles and life-sized chess set, complete with live horses.
- Simione; a penninsula jutting out into Lake Garda.
- Vicenza; where we visited the Olympic Theatre built by Palladio.

We also got to see Milena's new apartment which she is moving into next week... Very smart!

We ate like royalty and had a Sunday lunch BBQ with enough food to feed about 30 people.


PADOVA

Arriving in an Italian city on a Monday is not a good idea, because everything is closed.
So, for entertainment, we spent 3 hours sitting on the grass in Prato della Valle watching a man doing Yoga.

Tonya's cousin Nicola and her friend Julia were in Padova visiting Simone (an Italian friend of theirs from Bristol Uni), so we arranged to meet up. We waited and waited outside the Church of Santa Sofia as arranged. Knowing that Italians are about as punctual as Bermudians we waited patiently... It was only later that we called Simone's mobile to find that they were waiting for us at the Church of Santa Justina at the other end of town! Simone (who obviously hasn't been to church in a while) had given us the name of the wrong church! After this minor hitch was corrected, we all piled into Simone's FIAT and went to his house for a great dinner cooked by his Mamma.
After dinner Simone drove us back to our hostel, which has an 11pm curfew. Simone studied the map showing the location of the hostel before we left; but wasn't able to find it when we got to Padova! We drove around in circles passing a church which Paul & I recognized as being right beside the hostel. "Just let us out here, we can walk around the corner to the hostel" we cried. But Simone wouldn't have it... He insisted on driving us to the door... except... every time he found a street leading to the hostel he would either miss the turning, or it would be a no-entry street. Finally, at 10:55pm, he let us out to walk. Unfortunately , at this point we weren't actually very close to the hostel, having passed within inches of it several times! We made a dash for the hostel and thankfully didn't get locked out!

The one sight worth seeing in Padova is the Scrovegni Chapel. Unfortunately, it is closed until January 2002 while they restore Giotto's frescos. We managed to fill our time with minor attractions and a visit to the Basillica containing the tomb of San Antonio.. It was rather unsettling watching lines of people filing past the tomb, rubbing photographs of sick friends and relatives along the length of the tomb and stuffing fist-fulls of notes into the offering boxes.


MILAN

By the time we got around to phoning the hostel at Lake Como it was already full, so we decided to make a stop in Milan. The Duomo is really impressive... at least the outside is.
Paul wanted to visit the Natural History Museum, because it is free and has some dinosaur bones. We arrived half an hour before closing time and were followed around the entire museum by a merry band of cleaners practically pushing us along with their brooms. Tonya enjoyed it more than most museums, but then her attention span for museums is only about half an hour anyway!
Eating in Milan can be expensive, so we made do with Italy's answer to MacDonalds... Spizzaco... fast food pizza.


MENAGGIO

We have been without our passports for almost a month now and needed to spend a few days in one place so that we could have then couriered back to us... hopefully complete withour visas for Russia, Mongolia and China. We couldn't have chosen a better place to spend 7 days than La Primula Hostel in Menaggio. We shared a 6-bed dorm with two Aussie couples, but no one was staying as long as us, so Paul felt entitled to empty his pack into the chest of drawers provided - hogging every single drawer.

Menaggio is a quiet town situated on Lake Como opposite Bellaggio. It is perfectly placed for day trips around the lake and some good hiking in the mountains. You can also rent kayaks and mountian bikes from the hostel, but after all the hiking we did, we just didn't have the energy.

We took a ferry across the lake to Bellaggio to see if it bore any resemblance to the hotel in Vegas! The hotel designers clearly got their style wrong. The hotel appears to have a Tuscna theme ... it doesn't look like Lombardy at all! The only link we could make was that the hotel's famous fountain show was meant to be the lake, but it doesn't even have the distinctive shape of Lake Como.

On Saturday we took the ferry boat to Como town to check out the all-day market. Wee bought a complete spit-roasted chicken from a van in the market and sat in a square munching our way through the tastiest... and greasiest... chicken ever! We got in a terrible mess, and drew a few stares and disapprovomg looks from passers-by. When we were finished the carcass was unrecognisable... just a small pile of bones, stripped completely of all traces of meat. While we are on the subject of food, the hostel knocked out pretty good scram. For only Lira 17,000 ($8) you got a three couse meal with wine included. They served such delicacies as Pasta with gorgonzola and cream sauce, ovenbaked trout, and chocolate & walnut cake.

We did some AWSOME hiking (Sorry we've been around American's too long!). One hike took us through a village which was completely decorated with yellow & white ribbons and paper flowers. A local lady explained that a young boy from the village had just become a priest and was giving his first Mass today. Today also happens to be Corpus Christi, so everybody should be at church. We saw that this was true - the crowds were overflowing into the square and were making do with plastic garden chairs instead of pews, listening to Mass through loudspeakers mounted on the church doors.

Another hike took us up to a mountain refuge at 1736 meters and took 7 hours to complete. We must have been suffering from altitude sickness, since when we arrived we decided to walk up anther 500 meters to visit a chapel! We ached for days after. Still, this pales in comparison to what we have to look forward to if we make it to Nepal.

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