Monday, March 15, 2010

in fair verona we lay our scene...

I am actually currently at the wifi-offering caffe just down the street from The Palace (I shall whenceforth refer to my apartment as "The Palace," mostly for my own amusement) because when I left this morning around 11:30 AM, there was no internet. I have since received word that the internet is indeed back up, but I am currently living outside the law: I bought a month of internet on February 9th and have yet to renew it, though it was working up until March 12. I am afraid that my luck has run out and I will have to actually pay for my internet (horrors), so I'm hanging at the caffe in order to delay that inevitability.

So as you know, my roommates and I scooted off to Verona on Friday afternoon, after first completing the final step of our permesso di soggiorno (uh, probably spelled that one wrong...Gillian?) applications, meaning that we are now officially LEGAL residents of least until May. Funny that we have been here for almost 2 months by the time that is done. Also, can we just take a moment of awe at the fact that we have been here for almost two months? That's eight weeks, 42 days, and too many hours for me to calculate. I have a little over two months left, and if the second half flies by as quickly as the first, I'll be home before I know it.

Anyway, we brought our bags with us on our permesso field trip, so we headed directly to Santa Maria Novella after that. We bought our one-way tickets to Verona, and then sat around for almost an hour before our Eurostar train to Bologna left (can we also talk about how ridiculous it is that it cost 24 euro to go from Florence to Bologna and only 7 to go from Bologna to Verona? Stupid Eurostar train.)

May or may not have gotten a little bored while waiting at the station...
We were actually waiting at McDonalds, and since we were there for almost an hour, temptation overtook Marissa and me. We just had to have a.....

Tiramisu milkshake!
I've been talking about getting one pretty much since our first week here but sadly...

It did not taste anything like tiramisu. It wasn't bad, just bland. Blah.
After our culinary experimentation in milkshakes, we caught the Eurostar to Bologna. Such a quick ride! Only about a half hour. We didn't realize what a quick transition we'd have to make to catch our train to Verona, only about 10 minutes! And let me tell you, the Bologna train station is CONFUSING! Apparently there are central, east and west platforms. Our train was due to depart from Platform 3 Ovest (west). We found platform 3, and were slightly concerned when there was no train listed as arriving, and no people on the platform with us. We stood there for a bit before I happened to notice a sign that said "Binari est e ovest ->" and it suddenly dawned on me that we were NOT on the ovest platform as I had previously thought. We literally RAN (apparently I pranced, much to the amusement of my roommates) back to where we had started, one platform over from where our original train had dropped us. We had literally one minute to board, and the door actually closed before Sam got on. Luckily, some friendly Italians responded to our frantic Italenglish and terrified looks and opened the door to let her back on. Crisis averted.

When we finally arrived in Verona (two and a half hours later...phew!) we had to walk to the hostel. Fortunately, the weather was absolutely BEAUTIFUL, cool and sunny.
We saw this right as we walked in. I'm thinking it was originally a part of the old city walls.

Corso Porta Nuova, the large street we came in on.

A piazza...whose name I'm blanking on. It was really cute though.

The directions to our hostel were pretty straightforward and we found it with little trouble. It was actually a B&B, not a hostel, which means that we shared two double rooms for the low, low price of 22 euro per night. Not bad at all, considering I will be paying more than that to share a 12 person room in Amsterdam....ugh.

Marissa's and my room.

After chillaxing a bit and freshening up, we hit the streets to walk around a bit before dinner, which was recommended and marked on a map by our friendly hostel owner. We hadn't been walking 10 minutes when we were ambushed by a woman carrying paper hippopatomus crowns, who insisted on taking our picture. Grazie, signora!

After wandering for a bit we were famished, but realized that we had gone completely the wrong direction from the restaurant il signore had recommended. Whoops. So we trekked it back across the city with minor difficulty before Bracere!

The restaurant was apparently an old, converted church. The inside was SUPER kitschy...looked half like an antique shop, half like a restaurant. It was two stories, with an upper loft where some sort of reception dinner was going on. The food was excellent. I had an unpictured bowl of linguine with fresh pesto and tomatoes and shrimp. My main complaint is with Italian cuisine in general...they do not peel the shrimp for you! So my fingers got all pesto-y while I attempted to peel them. Unfortunately, I'm not very nimble, and I ended up getting frustrated with the whole process and leaving several behind.

After dinner, Sam and I debated going to a bar to get a drink, but in the end, we were too tired to go through the whole process of getting ready and going back out, so all four of us just stopped and got cappucinos. After savoring the espresso-y goodness, we headed back to the hostel for the night. It's crazy how riding a train all day can tire you out!

We got up bright and early (uhhh...9 AM) to be ready for 10:30 checkout. Breakfast provided by the hostel was decent...toast, cereal, and yogurt, mostly but it did the job for me, anyway. I filled up, hoping to put lunch off for as long as possible. We packed up, left our keys, and hit the city for a few more hours. We ended up back in the same large piazza with all of the bright stores and restaurants pictured above, but this time we took a closer look at the park across the way. I was particularly amused by this:

Do not go barechested.

The piazza I was talking about. I'm blanking on names again, ahh, sorry! Such a fail.

The weather was totally gorgeous again, and it really felt like springtime!

The old Roman amphitheater is in the same piazza as the park and all the shops, so we hit that next....after some necessary touristy cheesin'.

A group of women having some sort of bachelorette party took our picture after we took theirs.

The view from the top. Phew, were those steps STEEP and KILLER!

So steep we had to go down on our behinds...

But not before snapping some shots of the city from the top as well.

We walked back the same way we had gone the night before, towards Casa di Giulietta (Juliet's house) and a particularly alluring chocolate fountain-sporting gelateria we had seen. The street we walked on, Via Mazzini, was so beautiful, especially to a shopaholic like my roommate Sam.

There were tons of stores of every kind lining the street.

Even this little guy stopped to window shop! (Or maybe his owner was inside.)

Aha! The gelateria!

Stracciatella (chocolate chip) and some sort of chocolate-hazelnut combo that I'm forgetting. It was thicker and heavier than most gelato I've had, more typically ice-cream-like, but still good. I'm becoming such a gelato connossieur!

After that, we walked back towards Juliet's house, passing Piazza Erbe, which I think was my favorite part of the city. There was a market going on there and the buildings were just so...stereotypically Italian, with all of the terraces, plants, and shutters. So pretty.

I think prisoners must have been kept here. Note the chain.

Fresh fruit! Just what my breakfast was lacking. I picked up a pear and a banana for snackage.

After a bit of meandering through the market, we went to Casa di Giulietta.

People had adorned the walls with tributes to their Romeos as well as notes wishing for one.

Juliet's balcony.
I didn't realize it before, but apparently Romeo and Juliet is actually based on a true story that took place in Verona. I'll have to do more research on that one later.

What? Everyone else was doing it. Apparently it's good luck, and you can see that her breast is all kinds of shiny from millions of tourists groping it. I had to do it.

"I caught him kissing Mr. Garibaldi."
"Who is Mr. Garibaldi?"
Now I actually have to find out who Garibaldi was.

This was on a plaque outside of Romeo's house, which we wandered forever to find...only to realize it was just this plaque with a door in a wall. Cool.

With not much else on our agenda, we decided to follow the river towards Verona's duomo.

Along the way we made a few friends...this is Richard.

Sam also found her dream ride: a mint green Vespa.

Verona's duomo, or main church.

And as a self-respecting English major, I couldn't walk past a statue of Dante without taking a picture of it.
After this, we were all pretty wiped, and we realized there wasn't much else we truly wanted to see in Verona. We got another cappucino, picked up our bags and headed back to the train station. The ride back to Florence was much quicker (fewer stops between Verona and Bologna going back the other way), and we got home just in time to enjoy dinner at a vegetarian joint just down the road from our apartment. Delicioussss. We have pretty much been holed up in our apartment studying (internetless) ever since.

I have two midterms tomorrow (Italian and Travel Writing), cooking on Wednesday, then history on Thursday. I'm finding it hard to stress; I either feel super confident in myself or I'm just not taking my classes here seriously (worry not, parents, I am doing fine so far). I promise to do some studying tonight...after I catch up on my shows and do some online crossword puzzles. Nerd.


  1. loved it.....felt like i was with you in fair
    verona....great shots of some the natives. Sounds like you all travel well together. And yes STUDY because we parents do indeed worry (occupational requirement). <3 mom

  2. 1. The Palace. I like it.
    2. You spelled it right.
    3. We need to make tiramisu to make up for that milkshake monstrosity.
    4. Good luck on your midterms!!