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Two Gentle Days of Verona, June 24-25, 2013

Verona, another UNESCO site, is a most beautiful city.  A friend had told me that it was more manageable than big Italian cities like Rome, Venice, Florence, because there were fewer hordes of tourists, and the incredible history and sites to be seen are spaced throughout the city so that you can take a breath in between them.  Good advice.

We saw plenty of amazing churches, medieval castles and Roman ruins to feel tired by the end of each day, and to really enjoy the iced coffee (an ice cream coffee float) in the late afternoon while watching the many mimes in the piazzas.  One of the mimes was a couple, the man sitting cross-legged on the ground holding a big stick at the top of which was a sling in which sat his female companion, also cross-legged.  They sat that way for at least an hour while we were in the vicinity!


The only hordes of tourists we saw were in the courtyard at Juliet's house, a virtual mob scene.  This, despite the fact that all the guidebooks clearly state that Romeo and Juliet probably did not exist, and that the home open for expensive tours as Juliet's house is some random house the City of Verona picked to make a tourist attraction out of, and it may have been a whorehouse in a previous life. 
The first evening in Verona, we had the opportunity to attend part of the Verona Jazz Festival held in the Roman Theatre.  The Teatro Romano is an open-air amphitheatre that has been in use since the time of Augustus.  It is absolutely amazing to sit inside this ancient structure, surrounded by the setting sun reflecting on the stones and other historical buildings that have been built on and around the theatre over the years.  Although we didn't understand much of the lyrics or the musicians' banter, music is a universal language that entertains all.
Our second (and last) evening in Verona, our hotel downtown proved to be the perfect seat for a free Paul McCartney concert. Sir Paul was playing at the Roman Arena off the main plaza (another Roman ruin that has been repurposed for events) to what seemed to be a sold-out audience. With the windows open in our fourth-floor hotel room, we were able to sing along with no fear of being overheard.

We are relearning that the small osterias (pubs) and enotecas (wine bars) on side streets, away from the tourist masses, offer the most delicious "typicale" dishes. For example, the bigoli (thick spaghetti) with duck ragu and local amarone wine was incredible, followed by the best tiramisu ever.
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