Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Verona, Italy B

Verona is a great study of contrasts. Our hotel, just outside the city wall, was an old establishment. It was magnificent in decor yet updated to include an elevator. But look to the right and just behind the awning to whom they sold half of their establishment--yes, it is a McDonald's. No, even though it was lunch time, we chose a traditional sidewalk restaurant.
And Christine chose traditional Italian food.
It was a beautiful afternoon, and just down the street from out hotel was a small, restful park.
Our hotel being close to the park and right beside a McDonald's worked out fine as Christine was able to satisfy her Diet Coke fix and enjoy the park at the same time. 

Humans were not the only ones out enjoying the peace and beauty of the park.

What happened next was one of the most moving things of the stay. A lady from across the street came out to her balcony  

She sat, seemingly contented, and observed people milling around on the street. 
After a relatively brief time, she slipped back into her world. I would love to talk with her and listen to her life story. 
The following day, we had the choice of a side trip to Venice, or be on our own and do what we wished. On a previous trip we had visited Venice, and while we thoroughly enjoyed the experience, it was sad to see the slow deterioration of the buildings and island. And there were a lot more things to see in Verona, so we chose to stay in town.  

Breakfast was on our own, so I went downstairs to get Christine her morning Diet Coke fix. Just a few stores away was a traditional coffee and croissant establishment. I thought I would have an Italian breakfast and ordered a coffee and a sweet roll.
As I said, I ordered a coffee and this is what I got. After I ate my sweet roll and ate my coffee, I went back down stairs to McDonald's and got a large non-traditional "American-style" coffee. There is a limit to my "going native".
There was a light drizzle, but we headed out to the Roman arena downtown.
The arena was built in AD 30 and is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind. "Games" and "animal exhibitions" (the bloody Roman kind) and plays, were part of the entertainment presented. The amphitheater could hold up to 30,000 spectators.

The round facade of the building was originally composed of white and pink limestone from Valpolicella; but after a major earthquake in 1117, which almost completely destroyed the structure's outer ring, except for the so-called "ala", the stone was quarried for re-use in other buildings.
The first interventions to recover the arena's function as a theatre began during the Renaissance. Some operatic performances were later mounted in the building during the 1850s, owing to its outstanding acoustics. Restoration continues to this day. The sign is explaining that they are sealing the steps using natural materials such as lime and river sand.
One of the many entrances leading to the
present day arena.  A performance had been held the night before and workmen were busy disassembling the stage. 
Present day progress and visions of the future.
Forgot to mention. While we were being annoyed by an off and on drizzle, the group who went to Venice was experiencing a heavy downpour. They had to go around the famous St Mark's Square as it was flooded. They had to walk around in the heavy rain, and after all else, ran out of time to ride in a gondola. Only hindsight let us know how well off we were that day.  


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