We started our day with a delicious hotel breakfast. Yum yum yum! After loading up and checking out, we hit the road. There was plenty Glee and GaGa to entertain the kiddies in the back seat. Eventually we stopped for lunch. Can you guess where? The AutoGrill of course! We chose one of the gigantic ones that span the autostrade like an overpass. This is the view from where we were eating:
Because it was a huge one, this AutoGrill had a restaurante which turned out to be cafeteria-style. Harv & Bev each picked up a salad, while Kristin & Justine chose to get the pasta trio (the trio being spaghetti with tomato sauce, ravioli with oil & bacon and risotto with shrimp).
As we passed by, we stopped in Verona. If you’re wondering why you’ve heard this name before, it’s likely you’re remembering when you read Romeo & Juliet in high school. Verona is the setting of Shakespeare’s classic play and is Italy’s 4th most visited city. It’s been an important crossroad for over 2000 years and is filled with ancient sights. We figured the best way to see the city was to do the Rick Steves walking tour (in his Italy tour book). In the end we only did the part of it that connected the two sites we really wanted to see, but the portion we did was very informative.
Kristin’s number one stop was the Roman Arena. The Roman Arena in Verona is the third largest in the Roman world. Looking up at the mass of stone, it’s hard to believe it was once 50% taller. The arena is elliptical shaped, 466 x 400 ft, and it completely made from pink marble, and even today it is composed almost entirely of original stone. Over the centuries up to 25,000 spectators have cheered Roman gladiator battles, medieval executions and more recently the arena has been the stage for plays and operas. It was really interesting to see a Roman arena in a complete-ish form and still in working order! It really is an amazing feat of engineering, with all of the arches & layer seating, and then you remember that it is about 2000 years old and it becomes even more impressive. Kristin was practically vibrating at the idea of sitting in the same spot that real life Romans once sat.
Heading down a small alley we came to Justine’s number one sight: Juliet’s balcony. While Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet is fictional, the people of Verona believe there may have been a real Juliet Capulet. Whether she really did exist or not doesn’t matter when you enter the small courtyard. The walls are covered with marks left by lovers wanting to stay together forever. And perfectly placed up in the corner is a balcony that could have been taken right from the famous balcony scene. One can just imagine Juliet standing there calling out to her Romeo, “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”
The courtyard is also home to a statue of Juliet. We hopped up to get a photo…and take part in an old tradition. It’s supposed to mean good luck in love if you rub her breast. Kristin & Justine decided they could use some of that and moved on in to cop a feel.
We then got back on the road and drove to our Venice hotel. It’s on the mainland and therefore removed from the sites, but we see this as a positive. It’s not too busy, we could drive right up to it to unload our bags and there’s a handy bus that takes us right to the touristy area. For some reason you can only have 2 people in our room with two queen beds so Kris & Justine had to casually wander in and then sneak into the room. We hung out there for awhile, reading guide books and perusing the internet, before dinner.
We had planned on going out to a pizzeria Bev had found recommended on TripAdviser for supper, but when arrived it ended up being a take-out place. After much debate, we decided to order two and return to the room for some CNN and R&R. There was wine and Limoncello involved, which might contribute to us forgetting to take photos….oops. Tomorrow to Venice!
Love, Luck & Lunch at AutoGrill!
K&J + B&H