Italy's border patrol is nowhere as strict as ours in Australia, all we did was have our passports stamped and we were out. No customs forms, entry cards etc to be completed. We met the girls at the car rental place, got our vehicle - VW Golf station wagon, then tried to work out how we would fit all our luggage in. We finally got going, a few small issues working out how to drive a manual in a foreign country and driving on the opposite side of the road!
- [ ] We decided we would try and make our first stop at Lake Iseo, to see the Floating Piers that were installed recently and only there for three weeks. There are 200,000 floating plastic cubes all joined together and covered in fabric and stretch 3.1kms across the lake to various points. Sad to say we just couldn't get there as the traffic was just crazy. We pulled over for a bite to eat - my first tasted on Italian soil - and were happy with my huge panini (Italian for bread roll) filled with cold meat and cheese and lettuce. We drove off and tried again but after such a long while moving nowhere we decided not to waste more time and turned around and left.
We had planned to spend the afternoon touring Verona so figured our time was better spent there rather than in traffic going nowhere. We parked in an underground parking lot and set foot to see the sights of this old city, the setting for Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet". We passed by the Roman Arena, a big coliseum style open arena in the middle of Piazza Bra. They were setting the inside up for some nightly operas starting in a few days time. We passed on the opportunity to go in and look, the plan was to go towards the end of our walk.
First stop was to be Juliet's Balcony - even though the play and characters were fictional the town decided to create a balcony due to the number of people over the years asking to see her place. They choose a little courtyard in Via Capello (as that name closely resembled Romeo's surname of Capulet). A number of tourists crowded the courtyard and there was a statue of Juliet also where it was said to bring good luck to those who rubbed her right breast. Lots of luck must have been promised out as the breast was shiny from the countless thousands of hands that had touched it. Vicky and Stephanie both had turns and got their pics taken.
We headed then to the Piazza dei Signori, with a statue of Dante in the centre. Right beside this we bought tickets and went up the Torre dei Lamberti (Lamberti tower) and got to see all of Verona from up top. Beautiful day and sights to see from the best vantage point in town.
We made our way to Piazza Erbe where the locals had their tourist stalls of souvenirs and fresh fruit. Prices seem cheap compared to what we pay in Australia even allowing for the exchange rate differences. We stopped by and entered one of the many churches that adorn the town. Apart from the cool relief of stepping inside and out of the hot sun, the architecture was amazing. Very colourful and ornate, this would be the first of many we'd be seeing this trip.
We crossed over the river and walked along the side of it until we came to an old brick bridge that led us across back to the Castelvecchio (old castle). We had intended on seeing the Roman Arena but were too hot and bothered, not to mention Adam and I have had little sleep over the preceding 48 hours. We jumped back into the car and headed to our booking near Venice. As we had our own car and no cars can get into Venice, I choose a bed n breakfast in Marghera which is on the mainland about 10km away. A grand old house we were warmly greeted by Signora Lorenza and her nephew Lorenzo.
First duty was to shower, so humid and hot walking around and by now it's been 48 hours since my last one! Signori Lorenza recommended two places to eat nearby, we walked down to the Pizzzeria Capri. My first cooked meal on Italian soil so I wanted something simple, I ordered a spaghetti al pomodoro (spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce), and wow it was EXACTLY how my mum makes it back home. It was just an unbelievable coincidence that the sauce was the same in every respect.
A tiring first day in Italy, I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow from exhaustion. Big day tomorrow - Venice!