Tag Archives: Verona

It’s a European Thing

A trip around Europe is a backpacker right of passage, especially if you’re an Aussie. Staying in hostels, bumping into the same people on same route and exploring the other side of the world.

Most enter through the gateway of Amsterdam, a city whose liberal attitude may appear shocking to most, intriguing to some and even normal to others.

I remember the flatness of Holland and the smallness of Belgium where you could pass through it and be in 3 countries in one day. There is the beauty of the canals of Bruges and the discovery of Italy, where every city is different.

There is the history of Rome and Pompeii, the craziness of Venice and the little gems you find along the way, like Verona. And then there are more ruins in Athens.

It’s the Asian culture of Istanbul that leaves you wanting more and the bleakness of Eastern Europe on the cusp of Russia. Closely followed by the opulence of Vienna.

Then there is the gothic wonderland of Prague, before finishing off with party time in Berlin.

My first trip to Europe still lives brightly in my memory, even though it was taken a lifetime ago. Each country had a different culture, language and even a different currency.

No matter how many times I go to Europe, there always seems to be more to see.

I have never been to Scandinavia, Liechtenstein or Poland. I missed Ghent in Belgium and countless other places in Italy.

Like Cinque Terre, Siena and the Amalfi coast. I never got to properly taste wine in Tuscany, see the fountains at Tivoli or go to the island of Sicily.

I missed out on visiting an island in Greece, I’m sure Eastern Europe is quite different now to what it was then; and the Cesky Kromlov seems to be the place to go now instead of Prague.

I know there is more to Germany than just Berlin, like Dresden, seeing Sleeping Beauty’s castle and shopping at a Christmas market.

I can’t wait for my next magical European experience even if it is not in the near future, because a continent this diverse is definitely worth waiting for.

Related posts: It’s an English Thing, It’s a Spanish Thing, It’s a water thing, It’s a French Thing, Europe, 2006, Europe, 2003, England, 2002, Berlin, 1997, Part 2: To the East

Italy, 1997, Part 2: Bella Italia

Sarah and I decided to use Verona as a base for day trips to explore some of Italy’s other cities- each of which would prove to be unique, making Italy a vibrant and impressionable country.

Verona is best known as the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. We went to Juliet’s tomb, Juliet’s “house” and Castelvecchio which is more likely to be Juliet’s actual residence if she existed.

We walked through Piazza Dei Signori to San Zeno’s church which made a striking picture of red and white bricks against black trees with yellow leaves. It was here that we also discovered the Italian speciality of calzone and the Italian male penchant for hissing to get young ladies attention.

In Milan, I was more impressed by the huge Duomo than The Teatro alla Scala. We had lunch in Sempione Park where the Arco Della Pace looked just like the one outside the Lourve in Paris. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II reminded me of the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney.

The average cost to see famous paintings such as The Last Supper in Milan was 1,000 lire- too expensive for a backpacker- so we often settled for buying postcards of the famous art work or seeking out replica statues in the city instead. In Milan, we saw the statue of Leonardo Da Vinci in Piazza Della Scala instead of The Last Supper.

In Venice, there was a photo opportunity at every turn as we walked along the east bank. We saw the leaning Scala Del Bovolo and the marble Ca D Oro house on the water. We stood on the simple C. Corner Bridge over Rio de la Madalena and in the middle of the pigeon filled Piazza San Marco in front of the Palazzo Ducale.

We wandered along the Grand Canal to the Bridge of Sighs which is actually smaller than you think in real life. In contrast, the Rialto Bridge was larger than life and St Mark’s Basilica was beautifully decorated on the outside which I did not expect.

Catching a lift to the top of the Campanile we could see across to San Giorgio Maggiore Island and were deafened by the bells ringing while we were up there.

We crossed at Ponte Academia to Giudecca Island- the mostly residential west side of Venice- and encountered a marketplace and an industrial area. It felt like this was where the people of Venice actually lived.

On our second day in Venice we caught the water bus number 82 along Canale Della Giudecca, San Eufernia to get a cheaper boat ride than a gondola and get a closer look at the Bridge of Sighs.

Arriving in Pisa at dusk, we had just enough time to see the Field of Miracles before it got dark. The Leaning Tower peaked out from behind the Duomo.

Pompeii was very atmospheric. We walked the main cobblestone streets- Via dell Abbondanza and Via Stabiana which has bizarre raised stones for pedestrian crossings. We saw the white marble altar in the Temple of Vespasian and the mills at the bakery of Modesto.

We saw the House of the Faun, so named due to the bronze faun statue found inside; and red coloured frescoes of cupids intent on various activities on a wall inside the House of the Vettii. The brothel in the red light district is distinguished by being a room hanging over the road- quite an oddity. Inside there were pornographic fresco’s on the wall.

Most striking for me was the body impressions in the Garden of Fugitives- a girl sitting cupping her mouth and nose and a man face down on ground covering his eyes and nose. I can’t even begin to imagine the horror that these people faced and did not survive.

In Naples, we took the funicular up Volmero Hill. Back down the hill, we saw the famous Castel Nuovo with is white archway between two brown towers and the pretty Teatre San Carlo. We visited Galleria Umberto 1 shopping centre and sampled the speciality of Naples- pizza.

From here, we caught the train to Brindisi in order to catch the ferry to Greece.

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Related posts: Italy, 1997, Part 1: From Rome to Florence, Spain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond BarcelonaSpain, 1997, Part 1: BarcelonaFrance, 1997, Part 2: The South of France, France, 1997, Part 1: Paris, Belgium, 1997, Holland, 1997, England, 1997, I first started travelling, By special request, Home is where you make it, I first started writing