Thursday, August 18, 2011

Verona and Bologna, Italy

Part of our plan, while traveling through Italy, was to be as flexible as possible with our itinerary.  Italy is probably one of the worst places to do this because its so popular, so its almost impossible to waltz out of a train station into a hostel and find a bed.  Nonetheless, this is the sort of 'adventure' we were seeking and our 13 day time frame in Italy made it the only country in which we could approach our itinerary a bit more laissez-faire. 

We used Fodor's Essential Italy for planning our time in Italy to help us influence what city to go to next.  Before leaving, we had the basic framework of Venice-Florence-Rome in mind, but with only reservations complete in Venice.  Between Venice and Florence, we decided to spend an afternoon in Verona, and a night in Bologna.

After checking out of our B&B in Venice, we walked to the train station and boarded the next regional train to Verona.  Regional trains are slower, but much less expensive.  Our 2 train tickets to Verona, a whopping 8.50 Euro. 

Verona is the fictional hometown of Romeo and Juliet, but has a lot of other charming features.  Its small and medieval.  So its flanked by a river and has a castle, and is very walkable.  Unfortunately, we did not buy a map of the city (hoping to save money) and worked off of a small and not-to-scale map from our guide book.  Therefore, we left the city without seeing any of the Romeo and Juliet sites.  Though we did see some of the following:

City gates/wall

lots of bikes- a startling difference from Venice where we saw no bikes

The Roman Arena, one of Italy's best preserved Roman Ruins, still in use today as an arena.

A church courtyard

A fun, very Italian shop

A former monastery, now natural history museum, across the river from Verona.

The bridge of the castle

The river running through Verona

What was great about our stopover to Verona, is that we were able to see a new city without investing a lot of time or energy into it.  It was on the way to Bologna (and ultimately Florence) and allowed us to kill time between when we left Venice and when we could arrive in Bologna. 

Bologna is another oft-forgotten-about city with charm and grit.  Its a little rough from first appearances, but has a beautiful historical downtown and is much less expensive than the other cities.  Plus, locals seem much more willing to help out. 

Here are some highlights from our time in Bologna:

The public library that had a glass floor providing a glimpse of the ancient foundation.

The glass floor in the Bologna library

An art installation of life size (or slightly larger) statues.  This scene depicted a medieval battle.

A whispering gallery where you stand at the opposite corner of someone else and if they whisper in to the corner, you can hear them clearly on the other side.

Bologna is famous for its towers.  These are the 2 tallest, and were referenced by Dante in Dante's Inferno.  The one on the left is leaning 7.5 feet and the one on the right is leaning 10 feet.  We climbed to the top of the tallest (on the left).

The very old and very steep climb up.

The worthwhile view from the top featuring another tower in Bologna.

An active monastery we stumbled upon in Bologna. 

Another view of the monastery's courtyard.

Florence is up next, hopefully it won't be long from now.  Today was the first day of school so I'm happy, yet exhausted!

No comments:

Post a Comment