I was sorry to leave Padua as I loved it immediately upon entering the old town. It has a lovely feel to it. It’s a city you could imagine living in for a year or two because it feels ‘real’. Full of gorgeous piazzas and in typical Italian fashion, the locals seem to be all about the food. (It was nice too looking in the windows of the fashionable clothes shops and spotting the ladies and gents street style). It was the first day that we could comfortably sit outside a cafe as the temperature rose to about 18°C in the middle of the day.
I wasn’t sorry leaving the dark hotel room though with its green, orange and brown decor and a tiny elevator that doesn’t sense the presence in the door as it repeatedly attempts to close on your arm or shoulder. It was just luck that Lenny’s head didn’t get slammed as he tends to hang by the door of elevators waiting for the door to open again. (What must he be thinking in these situations? We bring him into a tiny space for a few seconds, then the doors open and we leave..)
Verona is only an hours drive from Padua. Again we stayed on the outskirts of the city. It was Easter weekend. Most hotels were booked out and those that were left in the city centre were way overpriced. Having the car gave us the option of getting more bang for our buck.
Verona is a beautiful city. The first thing that struck me was the largely intact Roman arena – similar to the Collesseum in Rome. The second thing that struck me was the throngs of tourists. I don’t know why I was surprised, we were in Verona after all and it was Easter weekend. Poor Lenny was a bit overwhelmed – bicycles whizzing by on one side; motorcycles on the other; and human legs and feet everywhere. Every dog he saw he made a beeline for – kindred spirits in this crazy land perhaps.
We got off the main drag and wandered through the streets, coming across many of the ‘to do’ sights along the way. At the main square, Piazza della Erbe it was market day. All the cheap tack you don’t want (as well as lovely fruit and veg) could be bought here. I had to look above these market stalls to grasp the beauty of the buildings around the square and the clock tower high above. The next square we happened upon was Piazza dei Signori which had a fine statue of Dante. Verona was where Dante first sought refuge after being exiled and he lived here from 1312-18. In the courtyard outside the church of Santa Maria Antica we found a group of five gothic tombs. These celebrate the Scaligere family who ruled in Verona from the 13th to the 14th century. We ate at a nice place called Little Italy. Very much catering for the tourists but had good pizzas and salads.
On the was back to the car we stopped at Chiese San Fermo, one of Verona’s historical churches. Frank volunteered to stay with Lenny while I went in for a look. (This is one of the major disadvantages of visiting a city with your furry friend. You cannot bring them into museums and churches so limiting what you can see and do). I was glad I visited and wished Frank could have seen it too. Firstly, you go down the steps to the ‘lower church’ and as you enter you are greeted by beautiful colourful frescos from the 14th century. Upstairs in the ‘upper church’ which was built a little later are even more colourful frescos from the 15th century. I could have spent longer marveling at these but was aware that my two traveling companions were waiting in the rain outside.
Lenny was having a bit of an off day. Unbeknownst to us he got access to his harness in the back of the car on the way from Slovenia and had broken the clasp. Lenny never quite got the hang of walking to heel, despite all the time spent in doggy school, so discovering the harness was a godsend. It meant we could comfortably walk him. After walking him (or more like Lenny dragging us) around Verona for a day, Frank was exasperated, stopping in the street asking Lenny ‘what’s wrong with you? Are you going to tell me what’s wrong with you?’. Thankfully, we spotted a pet store on the road back to the hotel. I found the exact harness he had, and even better, his same food. I went up to pay. Card machine not working. No cash. Back in the car, negotiating lanes and turns to find the cash machine that was ‘just over there’ according to the pet store guy. Saw a sign for another pet store. Lead nowhere. Got cash at a different cash machine. Back to the original store. Sorted. And if Lenny didn’t realise he was out of favor, he surely did when he peed on the hotel room floor. My fault really. In our haste to get back to our room, I forgot to give him the opportunity to go to the toilet before bringing him up. He knew he was in the bad books and went straight into his own bed without asking to come up beside us where we sat on the bed. A while later, the little head appeared at the end of the bed – testing the water. The water was warm so he delightedly jumped up beside us.
Frank and I went back into the city centre for dinner later that evening. We had a lovely meal in a bustling restaurant. I had a delicious asparagus risotto (this is risotto region) and Frank had tortoloni which too was very tasty. Afterwards we drove to what Tripadvisor says is the best gelateria in Verona for some ice-cream . Yum. (I always let Frank chose the flavors and say I’ll ‘just have a taste but get two spoons’ – deluding myself into thinking that I’m not really eating much ice-cream..). It’s difficult to get bad ice-cream in Italy. Just as it is difficult to get bad coffee. That’s just the way it is here.