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Just when it seemed the trip could get no better, it did. First we drove to Verona, setting for Shakespear’s Romeo and Juliet. Yes, we fought through the crowds to see Juliet’s balcony and had to fight even harder to get close enough to touch Juliet’s statue for good luck as local folklore suggests.
The Verona Arena is an impressive pink marble Roman amphitheater that is incredibly well preserved and still hosts major opera performances the locals enjoy. Built in the first century AD, it is still a magnificent site.
For lunch the market place had a wide assortment of fruit cups and offered a chance to taste things like bananas, watermelon, cantelope and strawberries that we had not seen much of during the trip. Like every Italian town, there were an abundance of cafes and we enjoyed a pizza with an unbelievable crust. There were plenty of local vendors as well as high fashion stores as the splendor of Verona certainly extended to way many of the locals dressed.
Venice might be impossible to describe. One arrives by water taxi and the drivers are as reckless and aggressive as New York City taxi drivers. Saint Mark’s Square was incredible as we made our way through it to our hotel that was just one block away. We had a few hours to wander before taking a ride in a tradtional gondola, including a serenade. We made our way along the centuries old canals under famous arched bridges and through neighborhoods and lavish restaurants/hotels. At every bride, pedestrians stopped to look or take pictures/videos. The view was beyond belief.
We searched for a less expensive spot to eat away from the square and were persuaded by the hostess to try Ristorante Noemi. I had noodles and salmon in some type of cheese — I am not sure what. Not only did I get a huge portion, but it was so, so good. The bread and salad were also the best we had on the trip and it was a perfect candlelight dinner.
On our way back to the hotel, we looked at a few shops and then listened to small bands playing typical Italian music for patrons eating outside at restaurants in the square.
I capped by perfect day with about a four-mile run along the “lagoon” — as our hotel conceirge described it — that was magnificent and let me see even more of the city.