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THE VENETO: FROM VERONA TO RAVENNA, Bresaola di Cavallo to Nero di Seppie

THE VENETO: FROM VERONA TO RAVENNA, Bresaola di Cavallo to Nero di Seppie

Nov 5th, 2012, 09:16 AM
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THE VENETO: FROM VERONA TO RAVENNA, Bresaola di Cavallo to Nero di Seppie

Yes, it's a great base from which to see many places, but spend some time with Verona. She's not a shy girl; her allure is easy to observe. And while she has many admirers, if you catch her alone at times, you will find her charming.

We spent four days in Verona after seeing Lake Como. Here's how she seduced us:

September 16, 2012.
Trains are so easy to navigate; no maps necessary. Our 1st class tickets supplied us with a glass of juice and a teeny tiny bag of taralli, so the chocolate bars that the Dante Center hotel in Lugano had given us on departing suddenly didn't seem like such a bad idea, faced with no food available until at least 5 pm.
Arriving at Verona Porta Nova, we grab a Taxi !! to the hotel, glad to be back in the land of transportation options.
The Hotel Accademia is on the edge of the ZTL ped zone. We check in, are shown to our room, way in the back, almost need a map for this! Our view is over the Bottega del Vino. Good start.
Turn on the a/c— ahhh, thankfully it's working. It's very humid in Verona.
We get cleaned up, and hit the street looking for refreshments.
Out the door, turn right, down half a block, suddenly Via Mazzini hits us right in the face. After the lakes, the crowd is unsettling. Who would have guessed, Verona has one of the busiest shopping streets in Italy?
Strung between Piazza Bra and Piazza del'Erbe, it is a heaving mass of high heeled women, gelato eating teens, men and boys checking out the latest in everything from shoes to intimate wear, and all dressed well.

A side street takes us to a nice shaded alley. We are the first patrons of the afternoon at Beauty Food. We have 2 glasses of valpolicella and for €12 a pizza size wooden platter with a selection of delicious ham, salumi and different cheeses. All delicious. Our spirits are replenished.

I ask the waiter, What was the dark colored cured ham?
"Don't know the name in English."
-So, in Italian, then?
"Cavallo." In fact, its bresaola di cavallo. We have just tried horse (and liked it).

(Beauty Food--The Wellness Cafè & Restaurant, Galleria Pellicciai, 12
37121 - Verona, Italy. tel +39 045 80 00 803) (I have read that it has since changed from a wine bar to a restaurant, not sure if that is also a change in management)

Piazza Bra or Piazza del'Erbe are both so beautiful it's difficult to choose. We finish off the night relaxing with a grappa in the latter.

Tomorrow, Vicenza.......
sundriedpachino is offline  
Nov 5th, 2012, 11:28 AM
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Looking forward to reading more! We've so far just spent a night in Verona for the opera, with no time to see anything else, and I do want to see the mosaics in Ravenna.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Nov 5th, 2012, 01:23 PM
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Hi caroline, I thought you might like to see a good bike ride for this trip for you or him indoors. http://bilboburgler.hubpages.com/hub...ice-to-Ravenna
sundried sorry, not a hijack, carry on
bilboburgler is online now  
Nov 5th, 2012, 06:42 PM
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It's Monday. Originally, I planned to spend the day getting to know Verona, but we have a chance to meet friends in Verona on Wednesday, so we change our 'Vicenza' day from Wednesday to Monday.

The train is just a half hour ride to Vicenza, where we want to see Palladio's works of architecture. It takes half an hour to walk to the train station, half hour wait, half hour ride, and another half hour walk into the center of Vicenza. it all adds up.
We arrive just in time for a quick bite before the town starts to close up for the afternoon. We can do a walking tour of the piazzas and palazzos, though.

We follow the signs to the Piazza dei Signori, a beautiful piazza. The Basilica Palladiana, with its many loggias, faces us from across the square. Along side it is the Torre Bissara, and across the way, the Loggia del Capitanio. The only thing missing is people.

The afternoon is strange, like a ghost town, no-one around except a few shady looking characters circling the place on bicycles, and a surprising number of police cars also circulating through the streets.
In my excitement to see our friends, I forgot the reason why I had scheduled Vicenza on
Wednesday. Everything is closed on Monday, including the Teatro Olimpico and the Museo Civico.
Although we have seen some beautiful architecture, we are disappointed that we have not been able to see the best sites, so fortify ourselves for the trip home (cold beer and snacks), and decide that we will stop in to Vicenza tomorrow after we see the Scrovegni Chapel in Padova.

Back in Verona, my feet are killing me, what a mood altering experience! We find our recommended pizza place in a quiet corner not far from the noise and madness of Via Mazzini. It's our first pizza this trip, we are ravenous, and it is really good.
(Corte Farina pizzeria on Via Corte Farina)

Piazza Bra at night is vibrant and fun. There is an Italian rock star giving a concert in the Roman Arena tonight, so the Piazza is buzzing with excitement. It's an enchanting place to wander around, framed as it is so beautifully between the pink stone Arena, the imposing, yellow coloured neoclassical Palazzo Barbieri and a Renaissance palazzo, the Gran Guardia. In the center is an attractive small garden with fountain and benches.
It's a natural congregating spot for the throngs making their way down Via Mazzini.

We follow Via Mazzini back to Piazza del'Erbe. If you could ever imagine Romeo and Juliet in Verona, it's easy to believe in Piazza del'Erbe, which looks for all the world like a set for a Shakespearian play.
In fact, the whole Centro Storico feels the same way.

A visit to Juliet's apartment sounds so cliche, but in fact, at night, there is a constant stream of seriously romantic people contemplating this inspiring spot. The gates are locked, but we can see in the semi-light the love notes which line every bit of the walls, and more.
A good 'note' on which to end the night.....

Will Padova disappoint or inspire? We will find out tomorrow.
sundriedpachino is offline  
Nov 6th, 2012, 12:18 AM
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We thought Verona station seemed quite far out, but the buses we used to get from & to it were very efficient.

Thanks, bilbo, but our cycling days are a few years behind us! DH used to have motorbikes but's that's a few years back now too. And of course, neither are allowed where we live now!
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Nov 6th, 2012, 07:54 AM
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Caroline, I don't think anything quite compares to Venice, but I hope you enjoy my account!

My husband walks for an hour and a half every morning, so I have a hard time persuading him that we should take the bus. But yes, I did see that there is a bus that runs straight up to Piazza Bra, I think it is.

Bilbo, you are going to inspire me yet to get my bike back from my daughter and repair the damage and start riding again.
sundriedpachino is offline  
Nov 6th, 2012, 01:27 PM
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Sundried, your feet don't hurt but a couple of big muscles do.
bilboburgler is online now  
Nov 6th, 2012, 05:01 PM
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Will the Scrovegni Chapel wow us or disappoint us? I've read both.
We go early and view the museum and also the interactive display about the frescoes. We love seeing the powdered paints, beautiful vibrant colors, and learning how they, and the frescoes, were made.
Finally, it's our group's turn to enter. Only 25 people at a time are allowed in. Everyone huddles at the first panel of the story, but I hightail it down to the far end to take in the whole experience, all the intense colors and light, and the intimacy of the chapel. It takes my breath away.
Giotto's frescoes are refreshingly pure and have a beautiful innocence, a poetic blending of man's passions and spirituality, the exception of course being the depiction of Judgment Day.
Imagination is a powerful thing when blended with suggestion.
All too soon, our 15 minutes is up, but that experience will live with me for a long time.

We hustle back to the train station, and head to Vicenza for another try at seeing the Teatro Olimpico. We find the ticket office, but it has closed early. Why? No reason....
We try the Museo Civico. Sorry, not today. Why not? No reason...under renovation...only on Tuesday and Friday between 10 and 12......
Not one site is open for the second day in a row.
I must admit, it's a bit deflating, but nothing that a glass of valpolicella can't fix.

Just around the corner from our hotel is Ristorante Greppia. Here is what we ate:

Gnocchi al radicchio rosso e mascarpone: Delicious, I loved the bitterness of the radicchio in contrast to the creamy richness of the sauce. Tim had simply bigoli in tomato sauce, but such fresh tasting tomato! Then we shared veal escalope in porcini mushroom sauce, along with cooked greens similar to but tastier than spinach, all along with a wonderful bottle of valpolicella.
One cannot do that often to one's liver.....

Wednesday, the only rainy day in 5 weeks; Will we survive the downpour?
sundriedpachino is offline  
Nov 7th, 2012, 01:38 AM
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I am sorry to hear you had such a frustrating time in one of my favourite places. Wednesday is the day to go as Palladio's Villa Rotonda is open, but I love walking around Vicenza (and having a macchiato and pastry at Sorayu) any day.
tarquin is offline  
Nov 7th, 2012, 09:48 AM
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Tarquin, it seems there are a number of places under restoration right now, although the Basilica Palladiana has re-opened just recently.
The Museo Civico was open only on the weekends.
The Chiesa di Santa Corona was closed for 'lavori', and the Teatro Olimpico was closed because there was an event happening later that evening.
There are seem to be a few other of the palazzos that are closed on Monday and Tuesday.
So I would definitely recommend to go Wed-Sun, and go early, before the afternoon break.

I would love to go back and see Vicenza in a better light!
sundriedpachino is offline  
Nov 7th, 2012, 08:51 PM
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Here are photos of the beautiful architecture we saw in Vicenza


No photos of Padova, absolutely none allowed in the chapel, of course, although we bought a few postcards.
sundriedpachino is offline  
Nov 8th, 2012, 01:20 AM
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Next day, our Verona day, we get really soaked in a downpour looking for a lavanderia-—laundry. I had left the hotel in a short- sleeved summer shirt, pants and sandals, not realizing it was going to rain today.
After an hour of walking, on the third try, we are directed to bus # 31. The bus is packed and Tim has to pull me in so the driver can shut the door. I ask the driver to drop us at the laundry, and I hear a buzz going on in Italian-—"Anyone know English? Where's the laundry?" In just a minute, we have a whole crowd behind us giving us tips on where to get off. It warms my heart, and takes the edge off my grumpiness.

We meet 3 Canadian women in the laundromat, and visit with them. The rain has stopped for now, but it is still very muggy.
Close by the laundromat is the Basilica San Zeno Maggiore, which we visit for a short time to admire its pink and white striped marble, and the cloisters. The paving stones in the piazza in front of the church are all wet, making it appear the church is floating on water. Under better circumstances, we would have spent more time. It's in a beautiful piazza, and happens to be near the bus stop for our return journey.

Our day has been taken up almost entirely with laundry, and now we are bedraggled and hungry. A shower does wonders to revive us, along with a flavorful steak with rucola salad and polenta, at a lovely
restaurant that we miraculously find open at 5 pm.
(The last lunch patrons were still there, I think that was the miracle!)
Osteria Le Vecete, Via Pellicciai 32

We take a taxi to meet our English-speaking friends, and we drive in the darkness into the suburbs. Suddenly, we turn into a driveway, and there is a well lit building, and the happy, smiling faces of our good friends.

What's it like to live in Verona? We meet an English couple who have lived in Italy long enough to have grandchildren there. They find life in Verona challenging, exciting and fulfilling every day.
Others have come from Germany, and spend 6 months of the year in Italy.
Another young Italian woman was born nearby, but speaks English, as she studied it in school. She has a comfortable life in an apartment in Verona.

A beautiful girl, originally from Venezuala, came to Verona to fulfill her dream of seeing Italy. She met and married an Italian, and now Verona is her home.
For others, for example, African immigrants, there is a lot of prejudice to deal with, and almost no chance for a proper job. They speak English as they are from Nigeria and Ghana, and have come to Italy seeking a better life.

There is a huge thunder storm with a torrential downpour. The sound is so thunderous that we have to close the windows to hear each other.
We're glad we're with friends.
They tell us it hasn't rained in over 170 days.

Our new friend who lives in Verona gives us a ride back to Piazza Bra. We walk through an empty Via Mazzini to Piazza del'Erbe, which is also almost empty because of the rain, and decide to do a gelato crawl but only manage 2 samples, small cones. One last look at Juliet's apartment in the dark, then we retire.

Once more, I wish we had just one more day, this time in Verona, but we are looking forward with much anticipation to seeing Venice tomorrow.
sundriedpachino is offline  
Nov 8th, 2012, 02:21 AM
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Keep going. Venice had terrible rains back in early September, so the clouds must have missed Verona.
bilboburgler is online now  
Nov 8th, 2012, 06:40 AM
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Yes, Bilbo, it was Sept 19 the day it rained in Verona. Can't believe we've been home for 4 weeks already.
sundriedpachino is offline  
Nov 8th, 2012, 06:47 AM
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Once more, we take the train, this time to the end of the line: Venice! It's more beautiful than we remembered, probably because the first visit, we arrived via Piazzale Roma. That was in 2005.

We take time for a photo op before claiming our vaporetto tickets, which I had purchased online through Venice Connected. Once we found the machines, it only took a minute to get our tickets, which was a great alternative to waiting in a long line.

Our hotel has instructions to take line # 1 to the Santa Maria del Giglio stop, and a few meters in, we find it. Locanda de la Spada has just opened for business in the spring. Our cases go up the lift, and we walk up the stone steps four flights. No problem.
Our host walks us over to the open doors overlooking the Canal Grande, and it's breathtaking, across from the Guggenheim and within view of Santa Maria della Salute.

Our room is beautifully new and modern, and the bathroom is huge and gorgeous.
I pinch myself, to be sure I am really in Venice overlooking the Grand Canal.

Our favourite moments in Venice:

Sitting in Piazza Santo Stefano enjoying bruschetta for a late afternoon snack, then a spritz for the people-watching.

Getting up at 6 a.m. to watch the sunrise from the point of land by Santa Maria della Salute church.
Then watching the city slowly come to life, the supply boats, the fish market, the sellers meticulously arranging their fruit and vegetables, the painter who is taking advantage of the early morning light for his scenes of Venice....

Wandering around San Polo while finding Ae Oche pizzeria.
We arrived 20 minutes before opening time, so inquired if we could have a glass of wine, and sit outside? Yes to the sitting, no to the wine.
Just a few minutes before, we had bought a bottle of wine at the corner store next door, which was full of neighbourhood men on their way home from work, apparently, but all drinking from plastic cups.
Why not ask the girls at the store to open our wine, and give us a couple of plastic cups? No problem! As we waited, we noticed about half a dozen large carboys behind the counter, and a girl using a siphon hose to fill large size pop bottles. Ahhh...hence the crowd! Take your pick, the cheap house wine or the "expensive" house wine!
I've heard of this before, but have never seen it.
Good times, the glass of wine is just what we need to relax before dinner.

Riding the Vaporetto dell'Arte boats up and down the Grand Canal. We almost had the boats to ourselves. Could one ever tire of that view?

Our two really great meals at Trattoria Da Fiore. Our favorite items were the razor clams, sweet scallops on the shell with a bread crumb and herb crust, salt encrusted whole fish, very delicate, and cuttlefish in its ink, black, velvety, and rich.
The cicchetti bar is a local hangout, and looked good, too.

Enjoying the grand paintings in the Accademia, including the Tiziano exhibit, and the Santa Maria Glorioso Dei Frari Basilica.

The vaporetto ride to San Giorgio Maggiore, and the wonderful view from the top of the bell tower back toward St Mark's Square.

Watching the sunset from the bridge on the Riva degli Schiavoni, as the masses of tourists are leaving for the day.

Tomorrow we will pick up a rental car and drive to Umbria, but tonight we will enjoy one last meal in Venice at Da Fiore, Trattoria, that is.
sundriedpachino is offline  
Nov 8th, 2012, 10:00 AM
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annhig is online now  
Nov 8th, 2012, 12:24 PM
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Photos from Verona:
Juliet's wall of love notes, San Zeno Church, Piazza Bra and the Arena, and Via Mazzini


Venice pics to come
sundriedpachino is offline  
Nov 9th, 2012, 01:21 AM
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Venice photos, early morning pics, fish market, view from our room, nero di seppie, and of course, sun dried Sicilian tomatoes...

sundriedpachino is offline  
Nov 9th, 2012, 09:49 AM
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Here's the final segment of the VENETO chapter of our trip. Today, we will make a stop in Ravenna.

Suitcases ensconced in the rear of our white Volvo station wagon, we happily continue on our way to Umbria. There's something about being able to stop wherever one wants whenever one wants, that makes a car appealing.
We are on our way, final destination for the day is Sansepolcro, wedged in beside Umbria, but officially in Tuscany.
The mosaics of Ravenna were calling to us; it's not much of a detour, and at least we have time for the Basilica di San Vitale, and the mausoleum of Galla Placidia.
It looks like a very small town, so we park in a lot on the edge of town near the garden.
Using my trusty iPad for guidance, we walk, and walk, and zigzag our way along, and finally arrive at the Basilica.

We are not prepared for the beauty of the place, having seen Monreale and expecting more of the same. The basilica is not large, but I love this style, with its octagonal shape and domed ceiling. Naturally lit, the colors of the mosaics are brilliant greens, blues and golds.
The panels of scenes are woven into a rich tapestry of designs and colors. We take it all in, but are anxious to also see the Mausoleum in the short time we have.

Again, we are wowed by the interior of this very unassuming building. It is illuminated by natural light entering through a few alabaster covered openings, which no doubt, has helped to preserve the rich colors and clarity of the mosaics. The ceiling is lit by mosaic stars, and I felt for all the world like I had stumbled upon some glorious scene in the middle of a star filled night sky, made so intimate by the darkness.

I was so happy that we made that detour, and would recommend Ravenna to anyone who has a chance to go there.
But we did have to leave, so trudged back through town, expecting the Navi on the iPad to guide us back to our car, wherever that may be. It was a good idea on our part to save the location of the car on the Navi.
Except that somehow it didn't save, so we spent the next hour going back and forth, up and down, and we were obviously getting farther away, because nothing looked familiar.

I've never felt so much like a tourist in my life, walking back and forth with my iPad in hand, and looking more and more panicked.
My husband finally said, "We can do this. Lets go back to the last place we remember while walking into town."
We got out the Visa receipt for the pizza place where we had lunch, and it had an address. From there we were able to re-trace our steps, with the help of signs we recognized along the way.
What a blessed sight that white Volvo was, never mind the Basilica!
It was such a relief that we didn't have to phone Avis and ask "Where the
h- e -double toothpicks is our car?!"

Now, it was getting late, so we had to boogie to get to Sansepolcro, where we had supper reservations at our B and B.
Sansepolcro is to be our overnight stop on our way to Umbria. We didn't really know what to expect, since there are not too many TA's about Sansepolcro!
sundriedpachino is offline  
Nov 9th, 2012, 11:01 AM
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Nice pics, sundried - especially the food - DS loved the seppie and ate it at every opportunity!

can't wait to get to Sansepolcro with you.....
annhig is online now  

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