Bellavista a Verona

Hard to believe that Plus3 is already half-over!  Every day so far has been action-packed and exciting, and today was yet another day that I will never forget.

Our day began with us travelling from Milano to Verona via a two-hour bus ride.  While gazing out of the coach bus, I was able to see vast Italian farmlands and vineyards that stretched until they were met by tall, rugged mountains off in the distance.  It was truly an experience to get a glimpse of the Italian countryside after being in the bustling city for the past week. Verona was chilly and rainy upon arrival, but that did not deter our spirits; we excitedly checked into il nostro albergo, the San Luca Hotel, which was very elaborate and even had a chandelier in the sitting room adjacent to the lobby. After checking in, several of us ate lunch at a McDonald’s down the street; this was a nice change of pace food-wise, and it was interesting to note the menu differences between American and Italian McDonald’s.

After our meal, we started our walking tour of Verona, which commenced with a visit to L’Arena di Verona, or the Verona Arena, which was constructed by the Romans over two-thousand years ago. In ancient times, the nearly thirty thousand seat Arena served as a place where all of Verona could gather and watch Gladiator battles and shows no matter if they were a patrician or plebeian. The tickets used by the Romans were inscribed on stones, and to promote sustainability, were collected after each event and reused for those to come. It was awe-inspiring to stand at the top of the Arena and imagine what it would have been like to be a Roman citizen watching a gladiator battle. It was also interesting to learn that the crowd decided the fate of the defeated gladiator: if they gave a thumbs down, the loser was spared, but if a thumbs up was given, then the loser was killed. Since 1913, the arena has been mainly used for concerts, especially those of famous opera singers such as Giovanni Zenatello and Maria Callas.

Also along our tour, we stoped at Giulietta’s balcony, which was marvelous to see after reading the classic tragedy by Shakespeare (who actually borrowed the tale from an Veronese writer) in English Class. It was neat to learn that the Cappeletti’s and Monticoli’s were actually real families in Verona during the 15th century and that the tale might be based on true events. Also, there was a statue of Giulietta beneath the famous balcony, and following another Italian superstition, people lined up to touch the breast of the statue for good luck.

Our tour then arrived at the tomb of Cangrande della Scalla, who was a Veronese nobleman and warrior whose name translates to “big dog”. He was apparently also friends with and supported poet Dante Alighieri while he stayed in Verona, and reigned over the city until his death at age 38 after drinking water. Following recent exhumation and examination of his mummy, it was determined that there was a lethal amount of foxglove plant in his system, meaning that he most likely was poisoned. We then walked through the magnificent Castelvecchio, which was constructed by Cangrande II in the 1350’s as means of protection from assassination, as he was greatly disliked by the by i Veronesi. The castle did not really work out for him, as he ended up being assassinated by his younger brother who also assassinated his other two brothers in order to assume full reign of the city. The most beautiful part of the castle was the bridge over il fiume Adige called Ponte di Castelvecchio that had impressive views of the city and the surrounding landscape.

Il Giorno otto era eccellente, e sono eccitato per domani!

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