An April 2004 trip
to Verona by moatway
Quote: These lovely cities are both worth a visit, but really, if Verona is a bride, Vicenza is a bridesmaid.
Verona really is magic... particularly in the Piazza delle Erbe, which vies with Sienna's for lots of people-watching and places to relax and have a drink or a snack.
A high point of your trip to Verona (literally) will be to ascend the Torre dei Lamberti. The views from the top are just amazing. The high point of your trip to Vicenza will probably be a visit to Palladio's Teatro Olympica... it really is something.
Each of the towns has an excellent tourist map with everything you need to see clearly marked. They are available at the tourist office or probably at your hotel. Make sure you get one.
And if you are driving into town... try to get rid of the car outside the historic center... there just isn't much space in town (that you can hold onto for any length of time).
If you’re driving into Verona, you will be heading for the city center and in particular the centro storico There is good signage to point you to the hotel (thank heavens) and as long as you know it’s near Juliet’s house there is occasional signage for that as well. As for train station arrival, you will need a cab. . . it’s a bit of a hike.
The exterior presents as an older building, but the interior is that of a nice, small middle class hotel with three floors above ground level. We booked through www.itwg.com, a great site with real-time booking and confirmations. We chose a double room with one large bed and bath. The rate of 105 Euros included a very good breakfast in a pleasant room below the lobby. The room wasn’t particularly large, but it was both clean and comfortable and the bathroom was four-piece without a tub (the shower was small, but adequate). The only other amenity I could see was a small bar off the lobby.
Parking appeared to be all street parking on the narrow one-way street outside the hotel. I wasn’t offered alternatives, but hey, it was free. We were completely satisfied with the property, particularly because it was all about location.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 9, 2004
Antica Porta Leona
Corticella Leoni 3
The hotel has been recently renovated, and I found it to be in really good shape… no scuffs, no signs of age. The result in our guest room was very pleasant: a decent size, nicely decorated with a large bed, desk, armoire and a four-piece bath (no tub). Guest rooms came in a variety of bedding combinations, many of them offering a small balcony.
We had booked through www.itwg.com, an excellent site, and asked for, and received a double deluxe room (one large bed) with bath. The price was 95 euros and that included a very good breakfast in a nice room. Parking appears to be at a bit of a premium. Most people seem to have chosen to street-park at the side of the hotel, but there is a small parking area that holds four cars out of sight of the street.
There aren’t a lot of amenities other than a nice seating area in the lobby and lots of free Italian papers. There is also a computer in the lobby if you feel the need to e-mail the folks back home. . . the charge was .20/minute. Off the lobby is a small, pleasant bar. All in all, it is the kind of place that serves the tourist well. The walk into the town center wasn’t really a problem, but long enough to make you think about going back in to find a place for dinner.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 9, 2004
V. Le Trissino 89
We settled on soups (from a selection of four, we chose the barley and the vegetable. . . both were excellent), skipped over the antipastos and pastas to the meat menu. Although there was a good variety, we both chose escallopes of veal in a mushroom sauce. . . it arrived at the table very hot and delicious. The vegetable list is short, but both of us were pleased with the roasted potatoes and the mixed salad. There is also a good variety of fish dishes and a dessert tray. . . we couldn’t avoid the dessert tray. The wine list was extensive, and we chose a Valpolicella Superiore at 14 euros. . . a good price. You can pay considerably more, or slightly less. The whole meal came together for 83 euros. . . about US$100 or the price of a small house in Canada (joke).
The service was excellent and menus were available in French and in English. We were also surprised on leaving to see that there were tables in the tiniest square just outside the door, and on this pleasant April evening, they, as well as all the tables in the restaurant, were full. Something I had never seen before seems to be a restaurant specialty. They have a boiled-meat cart, which is wheeled to your table. Various boiled roasts and sausages are presented for your approval and carved and served at the table. I didn’t find the idea very appetizing, but it seemed quite popular. Antipastos are approximately 6 euros, soups are about 4 euros, pastas are 6 to 7 euros, meat and fish dishes are 12 to 15 euros, and desserts are around 5 euros.
I can’t recommend this restaurant more highly. . . to find out more about the menus, the restaurant and the city of Verona, see their very stylish website. It’s a class operation.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 9, 2004
Vicolo Samaritana 3
We chose the central route with detours to allow us to soak up the city core as much as possible. It suggests starting at the Roman Arena, which is still in use and is currently undergoing substantial renovation. In its new life it doesn’t feature lions, it features Verdi. Next to it is the lovely restaurant-lined Piazza Bra with its fountains, trees and statues.
From there, it’s a short walk down Via Roma to Castelvecchio with its museum of antiquities and artworks. I confess, it was a lovely, sun-filled day, and I couldn’t bring myself to go in. I do suggest, however that you take a walk across the fortified Ponte Scaligero; it offers nice views of the city’s riverside. The tour takes you up the Corso Cavour with two possible church visits: Chiesa San Lorenzo and the Chiesa Ss. Apostoli. At San Lorenzo there is a 2 euro charge or a 5 euro combination ticket that is good for five churches. . . it’s a good buy, these churches are worth the visit.
Continuing on, you pass beneath the 1st century Porta dei Borsari. Not much further up the street you will pass into the Piazza delle Erbe. There is a little magic in this huge public space with its cafes and outdoor vendors. You will want to spend some slow time here – it’s very pleasant. Continuing on, you will want to go into the Piazza Signori with its imposing buildings. The tower that dominates both piazzas is climbable, and even better than that, there is an elevator. It’s the Torre dei Lamberti, and for only 2.40 euros, you can go to within a flight of stairs to the top for wonderful views of the city.
Just off the Piazza Signori is the Arche Scaligere. The rich really knew how to bury themselves in the decorative tombs on a street corner between their church, the Chiesa Santa Maria Antica and their palace. Then it’s back to the Piazza delle Erbe and down the Via Cappello. At one point you will pass the gates of Verona’s best-known tourist trap, the Casa di Giulietta. It doesn’t have to be open. . . you can see Juliet’s balcony and her statue from the street.
The Via Cappello is the center of Verona’s promenade – where people go to see and be seen, to shop or just hang out… an interesting street. Before you get to the river, turn right and visit the Chiesa San Fermo – again 2 euros or a combination ticket. It really is a wonderful church.
And those are the sights on the central walk – back to the arena (or not) and you are done and you’ve had a satisfactory day with time left. Off the walk, but near the Piazza delle Erbe are two more churches on the combination ticket: the Duomo and Santa Anastasia. Both are worth your time. To get a more far-ranging tour of the city, you might consider using the bus service. . . the tour bus is called Romeo. Verona is truly a wonderful city.
The Chiesa San Fermo is easily the most compelling. It sits on the site of the torture and death of saints Fermo and Rustico in 304. The original church was built in the 5th and 6th centuries. Between 1065 and 1143, the Benedictines built two Romanesque churches, a lower church for the relics and an upper church for services. Since then, a lot of renovation has been done, but the upper church you see was finished by the mid 14th century. The relics now sit in its altar.
It’s the ceiling. The ceiling of San Fermo was built to represent the inside of the hull of a boat. Around it were painted the faces of over 200 saints. It is unique… it is worth seeing. Otherwise, it is a single nave church with a number of side chapels, two of which are significant in terms of size and decoration. There is the Brenzoni chapel on the right which contains the hanging tomb of Barnaba da Morano (d. 1411) and Our Lady’s Chapel, which is filled with 17th-century art.
Towards the transept, on the right hand side is the door that will take you to the Lower Church. Here you will find a Romanesque church with murals that date to the 12th to 14th century. It contains the stone on which Sts. Fermo and Rustico were apparently killed and the whole place has an air of solemnity.
The Church of San Lorenzo was originally built in the 4th century and rebuilt in the 12th century after an earthquake. Its most noticeable feature is the women’s gallery that sits above the nave. It’s a small church with a nave flanked by side aisles. There are altars at the end of each aisle and altars at the end of the transepts… five altars in all. Other than that, it has some decoration, but its salient point is its age, which it wears rather gracefully.
The Cathedral or Duomo is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta. There has been a church on this site since the 4th century. The building you see was damaged by the 12th century earthquake, reconstructed and its interior renovated in the 15th and 16th centuries. Among the things you will notice as significant are: the side chapels are all marble and of the same structure, but the murals on the walls around them are different, making them look like individual churches or temples. The Memo chapel in the right transept is all marble with a rotunda and classical features. The rotunda has a narrow gallery, I couldn’t tell if it was actually meant to be used or if it were just for show. The chapel presents very well, as it was last redone in the 18th century. The chancel is fronted by columns which come out into the nave in a semicircle; the effect is very nice. The organ cases are quite extraordinary, there is one on each side of the chancel. As one would expect of the Duomo of such an important city, there is a lot to see… it is worth the visit. Nearby is the Chiesa Santa Anastasia.
Santa Anastasia is a 15th-century church with a central nave and wide side aisles. Along the aisles are four side altars on each side before the transept. Each is different is shape and style. This church is really beautiful, with highly decorated vaults and a magnificent organ case. Perhaps its most charming features are the marble holy water stoups as one enters. Each sits at the foot of a column. One is obviously a hunchback supporting the bowl, the other is known as Pasquino or Easter because it appeared on Easter, 1591. Flanking the chancel and in the transepts are seven chapels… all in all, a very nice church.
I did not have a chance to see the fifth church, San Zeno, but we did drop into San Nicolo all’ Arena (Via san Nicolo) and we quite liked it. This church is neoclassical with its barrel vaulted ceiling and faux Corinthian columns. It’s easy on the eyes, all in white and gold with a single nave. What it does have are 16 niches with larger-than-life saint statuary. The side altars, there are four on each side before the transept, all feature a heavy use of marble. The altar in the chancel is quite significant but the organ case at the rear of the apse is not. Only the floors in this church indicate its age… I would guess late 17th century, possibly 18th, but a very nice church nonetheless.
Well, you can avoid them or enjoy them… they are everywhere. At the risk of sounding cynical, a seat in a pew is a nice respite from the day of walking.
Riverview, New Brunswick