Friday, July 12, 2019

A Day in AMAZING Verona and a GREAT Meal in Bellagio with Pacio and the Skorpions Defensive Linemen

Wednesday, 10 July, 2019

Our last mini-vacation of this year's trip to Italy would end today with planned tour stops in Verona, Varenna and Bellagio.

We were both fired up for another day of countless new adventures!

As we left Sirmione heading for Verona, we spied an interesting, majestic tower in the distance near the autostrada entrance.

The Torre di San Martino

Erected in 1893, it commemorates King Vittorio Emanuele II and those who fought for the independence and unification of Italy in the campaigns between 1848 and 1870.

Once in Verona, only a 30 minute drive from Sirmione, we embarked on what our Rick Steves' Italy Guidebook considered to need only a two hour tour of this romantic city that is home to a couple of Shakespeare plays.

The two Shakespeare plays that I'm thinking about are Romeo and Juliet and Two Gentlemen of Verona.

The charming city of Verona is a photographers dream with art everywhere.

These two murals are in the . . .

. . . hallway of a random building
just outside a City Gate

A City Gate

What is he doing in Verona?

We would soon find out the logical reason for this reproduced Egyptian statue to be so prominently displayed at the foot of this City Gate.

Colorful buildings greet you
as you pass under the City Gate
into Piazza Brà

The word Brà is local dialect for "big open space."

Verona's tribute to her war dead

King Vittorio Emanuele II
statue celebrating
Italian Independence and Unity

This fountain, that was dry today,
is called "The Alps"

It was a gift from Verona's sister city Munich, which is just over the mountains to the north.

On this side you see the crest of the city of Munich and representation of the Alps behind it.

On the other side of "The Alps," we
find the crest of the city of Verona

Verona's City Hall faces
Piazza Brà

It was originally built by the Austrians as their 19th-century military headquarters.

A statue of a
Modern Soldier . . .

. . . complete with a machine gun
over his shoulder

This statue further honors Verona's fallen in World War II.

Verona's Roman Arena

It is one of Italy's largest Roman arenas and was originally 50% taller than it is today.

It dates from the first century A.D. and is still in use with a current seating capacity of 15,000 souls, down from the original structures 30,000.

The arena is in the midst of their annual Summer Opera season.

All of those medieval battle props
were used for last night's opera,
Giuseppe Verdi's Il Trovatore

This bishop statue was from
last night's opera too

Tonight's props for another
Verdi opera, Aida

Thus the now logical reason for the Egyptian statue at the City Gate when we entered the historic core of Verona.

This Il Trovatore prop was both
HUGE and interesting

Violence in the streets of Verona


Show No Mercy!

Cutthroat Knight


A packed house for an opera
performance in the old arena

This annual Summer Opera Festival started in 1913 and, other than the breaks during the two World Wars, has run continuously ever since.

The arena kind of makes
one feel young

Part of the remaining higher
walls of the original arena

The Verona arena is quite a tribute to long ago Roman engineering.

In 2026, when Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo host the Winter Olympics, the arena will be used as the venue for the closing ceremonies.

The Devotional Column

In the Middle Ages, this column blessed a marketplace held here.

I just liked the look of this
shop entrance

A good looking doorway

Porta Borsa

In Roman times, this was the main entrance to the city of Verona.

In those days, this gate served as a tollbooth. Borsari means purse, referring to the collection of tolls here.

A closer look at the upper portions
of the Porta Borsa

Laurie doing what Laurie
does best . . . SHOP!

How old is this?

Corso Porta Borsari

A colorful city indeed
just screaming for a bell tower
or twelve

Random religious art in the streets


An interesting bar
but we moved on even though
we were a bit parched

This enoteca around the corner
sounded interesting

This enoteca is owned by
local legend Orestes

An enoteca sells wine, right?

Why yes, YES they do!

Orestes pouring us each
an ice cold Prosecco 

Perfect pours in Verona

Some of Orestes' bottles
are pricey

And some are dusty

So many choices

A mere 490 Euros for
a bottle of Krug Champagne

That's about $550.00 USD!

This Chianti was more
in our price range

The Well of Love is to the left

We went to the right instead

Italy is truly just one
gigantic temptation after another

At one time, Verona had lots
of towers like this one

By the 1200s, Verona had several hundred towers like this one, each built by different families to symbolize their power.

In the 14th-century, the Scaligeri family rose to power in Verona and established stability in the city on their terms.

They made the other noble families tear down their proud towers and then used the bricks from the toppled towers to pave the streets.

The Scaligeri interfamily conflicts made it impossible to maintain a stable government.

In 1405, the town essentially gave itself to the Doges of . . .

. . . Venice and its iconic
winged lion

We were now on the Piazza Erbe with its pastel colored walls.

A fountain has bubbled on this
spot in Piazza Erbe for over 2,000 years

A closer look at Verona's Madonna

The small banner in her hands roughly reads "The city of Verona deserves respect and justice."

The Piazza Erbe's building walls
are colorful to say the least

A mini-fortress on Piazza Erbe

I liked the white blocks that
added a nice touch to this edifice

A powerful woman

Piazza Erbe had a nice street
market selling wares behind
another Devotional Column

More of photogenic Piazza Erbe

The "home" of Juliet Capulet
is in the courtyard of this archway

William Shakespeare's classic play Romeo and Juliet was set in Verona.

Even though the play's two main characters are fictional, local entrepreneurs have created Juliet's "home" and devoted fans of the Bard's work flock to this spot to honor the two star crossed, young lovers.

But not us, too crowded, we moved on to . . .

. . . the Piazza dei Signori and
its statue of Dante Alighieri

This famed Italian poet came to Verona after being expelled from Florence.

Dante sided with the Holy Roman Emperor in his famous dispute with the Pope while the city of Florence supported the Holy Father.

Verona and the Scaligeri family sided with the Holy Roman Emperor and gave Dante asylum.

The Palazzo della Ragione

The Palazzo's ornate walls

A hanging souvenir whale's rib
from an ancient Verona
citizen's trip to the Orient

Palazzo della Ragione
Bell Tower

Palazzo della Ragione's

Meanwhile, back at the lovable Scaligeri Family's attempt to blend in withy their neighbors . . .

Tombs of the Scaligeri Family

The law in Verona before the Scaligeri family rose to power stated that all tombs had to be found outside the city walls.

Under Scaligeri Family dominance, that rule still applied to everyone except the Scaligeri family of course.

They were buried inside the city walls and in exotic, Gothic 14th-century tombs surrounded by wrought iron, protective cages. Even in death, the people of Verona had to still look up to members of the Scaligeri family.

Another tomb
above that doorway

A different look at the
Scaligeri Family tombs

Is that a church in the distance

We had yet to enter a church today.

We walked down the street to take a closer look but were waylaid by a couple of grocery stores.

Interesting . . .

. . . it was a fully stocked
grocery store . . .

. . . including spirits of course

A second classic grocery store
just a few meters from the first one

I liked their small bottles
of Chianti wine

Chiesa di Sant'Anastasia
built between 1290 and 1481 A.D.

It looked simple enough from the outside.

Is that another Scaligeri tomb
near this church?

The entryway to the church
was a nice set of pastel shades

And then we walked into our simple little church . . .


A cool young man supporting
the Holy water fount

Same fount, different view

St. Peter Martyr of Verona with
the usual machete in his head

Local boy gets clocked!

Of course, the columns
had rich paintings

A man supporting another
Holy Water fount

Nice mustache


I'm a BIG fan of
St. George

An altar dedicated to the
Holy Ghost

The ceiling is simply

This organ has been here
since 1625 A.D.

Strange eyes

Laurie offering up a prayer

Old oil lamps

More murals,
does the art in this church
ever end?

The ornate, carved
wooden choir

That's a lot of work!

Hmmmm. . .

Worn carving on a pew

And the art goes on . . .

. . . and on

What is that on the wall to
the left?

A tomb, I believe

Yes, it is the Mausoleum of Cortesia Serego dating from 1429. 

Even the floors are
Works of Art

Madonna and Child

So many colors,
so many styles

Lots of interesting columns

Gold is a good color . . .

. . . and gold is plentiful in
the Chiesa di Sant'Anastasia

Another richly colored column

The artwork above the arch
is considered to be the most
important one in the entire church

It is Pisanello's fresco of St. George and the Princess.

Laying Jesus to rest

"The things that I could tell you."

Sure, we can add another painting
right here if we hurry


WOW! What a huge surprise the Chiesa di Sant'Anastasia turned out to be, one of my Top Ten European churches to be sure.

The other nine?

In no particular order, they are St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris before the fire, the Duomo in Milan, St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, Westminster Cathedral in London, Le Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, the Catedral Primada Santa Maria in Toledo, the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela in Spain and the Sagrada Famila in Barcelona.

Large outer wall of the
Chiesa di Sant'Anastasia

Finally, we moved on to see more of this exciting city.

More of Verona across
the Adige River

The Ponte Pietra

The white stones are from the original Roman bridge that stood here until it was bombed in World War II by the Allies.

The people of Verona eventually fished the huge white marble blocks out of the Adige River and rebuilt the bridge.


STOP the tour, I needed a gelato and this was a good one!

Laurie needed lunch and
this was a good one too

Fat and sassy is the
way I like to tour the Boot

The Verona Duomo's
Bell Tower in the distance

A hole in the Ponte Pietra

Nice windows and shutters

The Duomo Bell Tower
up close

An old wall in need of support

The Duomo's entryway

While I liked the lion
on the right . . .

. . . I liked this Angel more

What in the name of zoology
is this animal?

The Duomo's carvings . . .

. . . were interesting but
we really did not want to
enter another church today

We moved on . . .

An early Italian prototype of the
famed Michigan football helmet

The Duomo's peaceful
Romanesque cloister

Laurie liked the childlike
simplicity of this carving

More cloister columns

The cloister's verdant center

It was time to retrace our steps. We had planned to be here for only two hours and our delightful tour of Verona was now in its fifth hour.

Resting at the bottom
a long stone stairway

Back by the Piazza Erbe . . .

. . . and as final look at the
Verona Arena

Ah, memories of life in Sicilia

We had planned to visit the Lake Como city of Varenna in our original plan for the day, but because of the wonderful time spent in surprising Verona, our visit to Varenna would have to wait until next year's return to Lombardia.

We still had one more engagement to honor.

We had been invited to a dinner hosted by Skorpions Defensive Line Coach Pacio Cranchi to honor the Varese Defensive Linemen. The dinner would be held at Pacio's cousin Ivan's Agriturismo in the hills above the wondrous city of Bellagio.

As it turned out, Ivan's wife Giulia is an amazing cook!

We were a bit early
so we stopped to read on
Lago di Como's shore

I wonder what city that is
across the Lago?

Life in Italy does have its
occasional magic moments

OK, maybe there are lots of magic moments when you live here for six months of the year.

By mistake, we arrived at Pacio's
aunt and uncle's home in our
Google map's abortive search
for Ivan and Giulia's Agriturismo

Good people who we have met on several occasions over the last two years.

They put us on the right track, we had overshot the mark by about 100 meters.

One of Pacio's wood worked spirits

A good Agriturismo just has to
have a proud rooster and some hens

Ivan and Giulia's Agriturismo
overlooks . . .

. . . this valley where Pacio is
holding court with the first wave
of Defensive Linemen who had arrived

Let the feast begin!

Polenta with lots of cheese
garlic and butter . . . WOW!

This was just one of several Bellagio area local delicacies that we were served, all delicious to say the least!

Laurie took this photo before
dessert was served

Lots of empty plates and sated people are seen here.

in her kitchen

Lots of happy faces after a
GREAT dining experience!

Pacio, his wife Mariateresa and their extended families are always such wonderful hosts every time we visit them in Bellagio.

It continues to remind Laurie and I that . . .



David said...

I think we need your updated Gelato power rankings before you leave or shortly after you get back.

George said...

Good idea, David! I still have a few more days of research before finishing up this season's study.