Jun 8th, 2014, 08:02 PM
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I got some really great help the past few times I asked questions here, so I was hoping to get some help with my Verona itinerary instead. Originally, I thought this would be pretty much a breeze as we are taking a day trip there, but the main thing I'm confused about is the Verona Arena.

This is what I have on my itinerary. Walking for the most part.
- Casa di Giuletta, Loggia del Consiglio, Scaliger Tombs
- Verona Cathedral
- Ponte Pietra
- Giardino Giusti - 6 Euros
- Piazza delle Erbe
- Verona Arena???

I'm not sure how to buy tickets for the Verona Arena without a concert. It actually originally wasn't quite on the list. Is this a must-do? We aren't that enthusiastic about the Verona Cathedral either.
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Jun 8th, 2014, 08:41 PM
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Be aware that the inside of the arena is set up for the opera performances which happen throughout the summer months. There is a large stage and a fairly deep orchestra pit which covers one end of the arena's interior. Now, if you are interested in seeing THAT then perhaps it is worth your while. You can easily see a lot of the large pieces of scenery if you simply walk around the outside of the structure which for opera performances holds about 15,000 people. IMO the interior itself is not the greatest thing, sightseeing-wise, in Verona. I would do other sights while visiting.
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Jun 8th, 2014, 10:57 PM
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Castel Vecchio gallery? A really great gallery/museum. Arena and cathedral, not so impressive. From my previous trip report:

By the time we got to Castelvecchio in Verona, I'd seen a fair few museums and galleries. Art Overload is a real risk.

So the attraction at Castelvecchio for me was not so much on WHAT is displayed, but rather on HOW it is displayed. Castelvecchio dates from Roman times, with the current fortifications built over the Roman base by Cangrande II from 1335 to 1375. The bridge, the Ponte Scaligero, was built so that Cangrande would have a northwards escape route in the event of a civil uprising by the citizens of Verona - Cangrande was absolutely hated by the Veronese, and figured that he would find refuge in Germany if push came to shove. The name, Scaligero, comes from the crest of the Cangrande family, a stair, ladder or scala in Italian. Frescoes from the 1370s in the castle show a ladder.

Napoleon's people built a barracks inside the castle perimeter, and the area was reworked as a gallery in the 1920's in a not very sympathetic fashion. Carlo Scarpa was tasked in 1956 to do a renovation, which took some eight years. As a side project, he did the Olivetti showroom in the Piazza in Venice, maybe for some light relief.

It's worked rather well in Verona.

In 1956, the thrust of world architecture, or at least USA architecture where the money was being spent, was all about simplification. The architectural legacy of Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Johnson et al was all about minimisation, socialist worker housing, even if said housing was stacked 38 stories high, like the Seagram building. So I think it took a bit of courage to pick Scarpa for the job, Scarpa with his penchant for the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, small but important detailing, even down to the detailing of the light fittings. An architect comfortable with decoration, buildings designed to relate to their occupants rather than to overwhelm them. Going against the contemporary flow of architecture.

The impression is that the castle is the greatest, the most significant, work on display. The historical structure has been exposed, allowing a clear perception of the various stages of usage. The Roman moat has been excavated, access to the battlements enabled by stairways that are deliberately tight - as they would always have been. There is one stairway in the battlements constructed from 12mm oxidised steel plate. In side elevation, it looks almost solid, small slits only between the plates, echoing the small loopholes in the perimeter. But in end elevation, the stairway almost disappears, becomes invisible. It's hard to describe, and so worth seeing.

There are all sorts of contradictory statements in the museum. The entrance courtyard is somewhat Japanese in its simplicity - but you enter via a restored drawbridge. The Gothic lancet windows at ground level are glazed in an asymmetric fashion, but Gothic is about symmetry. In the ground floor sculpture gallery, marble statues, which are in themselves heavy, appear to float on stone or highly finished concrete bases. Cast iron heaters are allowed to show - but sometimes are hidden inside stone boxes. Sliding security doors are woven from steel strip, echoing the portcullis that would have been at the drawbridge.

On the ground floor, there are small gutters of stone around the perimeters of the rooms, a Venetian reference, reminding one of the ground floor of the Querini-Stampalia Foundation, which gets aqua alta'd. Some of the floors are broken to indicate paving, and maybe to slow one's progress through the spaces, a visual pause.

Most galleries have works that are mainly hanging on walls. But at Castelvecchio, many works are shown on easels which are beautifully detailed. This means that often you will approach a work from the back, see how the canvas is stretched or the wood panels connected before you see the face of the work, almost a silent introduction. It makes for quite an intimate experience.

I'm hesitant to use the word "journey" to describe how the Castelvecchio functions, as "journey" has become part of management-speak, the "journey" towards submitting a tender or creating a budget. So maybe at Castelvecchio, I won't describe it as a journey, rather as a procession. A procession through history, Roman, 14th Century and Napoleonic politics.

There are some good works of art there too. However it's the architecture that does it for me.

Try googling "Scarpa, Castelvecchio Verona Photos" and you'll see what I'm on about.
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Jun 9th, 2014, 03:49 AM
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I agree with every word of Peter_S's superb ears say. I would add only that the construction continued in recent times because the Germans blew up the historic bridge to postpone their defeat of the advancing allies.

I also agree that the Cathedral isn't much but the parish church of San Zeno has incredible medieval bronze doors, very early, and amazing wall paintings. A must see.

Since there never visited Italy, much less Verona, why would you visit a fictitious balcony associated with a fictitious character?

The arena is spectacular and you can't avoid seeing it. There is also a Roman theatre across the river.

I love Verona. It is my favorite city in Italy. I hope you enjoy it.

Veronese are famous for eating horse and donkey meat. A good place to try them.
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Jun 9th, 2014, 04:21 AM
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I keep trying to decide what my 'favorite' Italian city is and I can't, but Verona is definitely near the top of the list. What I love about the city is not so much the 'inside' of specific sites, but rather the way the whole city looks and feels.

My first time there I got the Verona card which included entrance into almost every place/church so I went into lots of places I wouldn't have bothered with if I'd had to stop and pay admission. It was worth it. The Cathedral was 'OK', same with the inside of the arena. I agree with what was said above about Castelvecchio. The inside of Casa di Giuletta was kind of interesting (as an historic house, not as the home of a fictitious character) and at least it was very uncrowded (everyone was out in the courtyard).

I strongly urge you to cross the bridge and explore the 'other' side of Verona which is much more peaceful. Verona, like a lot of touristy cities, is at it's best early in the morning and in the evening and that will be hard to get in just a day trip. My first visit was a day trip, a few years later I went back for four days.

This is what I wrote about Verona on my first visit: Verona was the most visually beautiful (other than Venice of course, which is in a class of it’s own) of the towns I visited, also the most crowded with tourists. From Piazza Bra with the arena to Piazza delle Erbe and its adjacent Piazza dei Signori, and Casa de Jullieta was all pretty much wall to wall people. And those are all beautiful places, but the rest of the city is gorgeous too and much less crowded. The bridges to the area north of the river were especially enjoyable and very quiet. In Verona I got the Verona card since at 8€ it was only 2€ more than admission to the arena alone and it saved a bundle (I saved 37€ and didn’t even get to everything the card covered). Every church in town is 2.50€, but free with the card and worth at least a quick peak. It also covers the Roman theater and admission to the tower in Piazza Signori which has nice views of the whole city (there’s a lift so no climbing!) plus it also includes the buses. I just couldn’t stop taking pictures, Verona was so beautiful.

Here's the trip report that includes the four day visit:

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Jun 9th, 2014, 04:26 AM
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It was your "essay" I complimented, Peter, not your "ears say." The dead hand of Steve Jobs strikes again.
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Jun 9th, 2014, 12:20 PM
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wow thank you all for this wonderful information! Peter_S_Aus, I had originally considered Castel Vecchio, but even though Florence, Venice, and Rome would be after Verona, I had thought it would be an overload (as with the Chapels). Though your lovely response convinces me otherwise! I'll read through your trip report for more information on other places you have visited to help me decide more of my itinerary.

Ackislander, thank you for the suggestions! I'll admit that it's very difficult for me to skip tourist sites like the balcony because it almost feels like I'm obligated to visit them. A few years ago I took a trip to Australia and New Zealand, staying on the far east side between New South Wales and Queensland in Australia, and Auckland and surrounding areas for New Zealand. It was a very expensive trip, but I saw and experienced a lot. When I shared stories with friends, I kept getting interrupted asking if I went to Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, Kangaroo Island, Queenstown etc. It ended up making me feel like I had an incomplete trip, even though it would have been difficult money wise to visit all those places in the same trip. None of those people asking had ever been to Australia or New Zealand. But it did layer my feelings about that trip with a little bit of regret, even though I know that's not fair and that I had a wonderful time! I don't really want to deal with that again and I almost feel like when I tell others about visiting Verona that would be one of the questions that would come up. I do want to visit it, though, so I'm not entirely forcing myself to go either.

Thank you isabel! I looked at your photos and they're beautiful, and I'll read through your trip report as well. The Verona Card is now 15€ for 24 hours, but I'll consider it when I reach the final itinerary. We are going to be storing our luggage in Porto Nuova and then heading into Venice, but we don't have any immediate plans for the night in Venice so there's no rush. Once we iron out the itinerary, we can book our train ticket accordingly.

Is the Giardino Giusti worth the visit? Since we were going to gardens in Lake Como and Boboli (though this may be out of the list), we thought it could also be a garden overload.
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Jun 9th, 2014, 12:59 PM
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As travelers we have all experienced taking "that one" photo that stands out from all the rest, the gem amongst the masses of photos. My gem photo is of the Castle Saint Pietro setting high on the hill, with the Italian cypress trees rising majestically around it, the river flowing in the foreground and the deep blue sky with spotty clouds framing the background. So Italian!

Stroll along the river path for a beautiful walk and possibly try an outdoor restaurant along the way. Loved it! (my sweetheart and I were the only ones there!)
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Jun 10th, 2014, 05:28 AM
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We found the Giusti Gardens a pleasant break from the bustle of central Verona; there are nice terraces, a maze and some fine views from the higher section.
However, not in the same league as Villa Melzi, Villa Carlotta et al that you will hopefully be visiting when in Lake Como area.
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Jun 10th, 2014, 05:50 AM
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Regret, well, yeah. I think we all have them, but the best defense with "friends" who try to put you down is to have a good offense:

"You didn't have the horse meat braciola at Romeo et Giuletta in Verona? Well, maybe you can try it next time!" Spoken with contemptuously sad face.

"Sounds like an interesting trip to Australia! You hit all the tourist high spots! What was your tour company?" Best used with those who are fanatic planners who want to go "off the beaten path."

My mother was a master at this.
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Jun 10th, 2014, 06:07 AM
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LR220, you are quite welcome.
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Jun 10th, 2014, 06:47 AM
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Though tacky and Ersatz Juliet's balcony to me was one of the most maudlin interesting things I saw in Verona - all those romantic couples taking pictures - a real show! And right in the center of all your walking.
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Jun 10th, 2014, 12:59 PM
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Thanks everyone! Since we aren't in a rush, we'll make sure to cross the river. I've removed the Cathedral from the list, but I'll keep Giusti (though I think my price is wrong and it's 7 Euros instead. Aside from Vecchio and Giusti, as well as the other tourist sites, it would be nice to have time just so stroll around. Hopefully the weather that day is great!

SeeDee, we are hoping to make it to at least 2 villas in Como! I haven't been able to look at the ferry schedule again to really see if it's possible, but we are trying to fix our itinerary for that portion. Hopefully it works out

Ackislander, hahaha I hope that it's just a matter of them being naive about traveling rather than looking to put me down. It was also a family vacation, so it would have been difficult to force family into moving around from place to place every few days rather than getting their relaxation. And my mother hates flying, so the 3 flights in between and the journey to go and come back was already pushing it for her!
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