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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Day trip to Mantua

Dear Family and Friends,

Our last day trip from Verona was to Mantua (Mantova in Italian).  Mantova is a city surrounded by 3 artificial lakes. These lakes were created during the 12th century as part of the city's defense system.
The city appears to be an island in the middle of the vast lakes.

We took a taxi from the train station.  We asked for the historic center and the driver dropped us off in the plaza of the Mantua Cathedral.

That was a far as he could drive, the historic area is all pedestrian.  

We were there pretty early about 9:30 am and the shops were all closed so we had a second morning coffee.

After coffee we walked into the historic district and gazed through the windows of the shops.  

I was intrigued with this shop which had fresh made tortellini and ravioli all made up.  I think we could all be great Italian cooks if we had shops like this one in our neighborhood.

Jars of fruit in syrup.  Almost too pretty to eat.

Figs in syrup.

This is a sbrisolona cake.  It is a hard flat cake about 8 or 9" across with almonds.  It is crumbly and reminds me of biscotti.  Mantua is known for these cakes and they were for sell in tourist size take away containers.  

We finally moseyed our way into the heart of the tourist district...Plazza delle Erbe.

Below is a not so great picture of the clock tower, Torre dell'Orologio.  To the right of it is the Rotonda di San Lorenzo, an 11th century chapel.

A closer look at the face of the clock.  It is an astronomical clock.

We wondered around the town, looking in shops.  We looked through the window of this out of the tourist traffic restaurant and decided that this is the place to have lunch.

More patrons came in after we were seated and I swear they were all locals.  This small restaurant filled up.  We had found a winner.

Well, Chuck found horse on the menu and he had to try it.  This is his over polenta.

Audrey and Jim, who are also adventurous eaters had rabbit.

Me?  I had spinach stuffed tortellini with a parmesan sauce.  Very delicious.  

My view is that horses are for riding, rabbits are for delivering Easter eggs and spinach is for eating.

The weather was overcast and we had a laid back trip to this town.  

We returned to the train station and began our trip back to Verona.  



Saturday, November 24, 2018

Day Trip to Bolzano

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I took the train north, to Bolzano.  Bolzano is located in the Italian Alps.  On our visit here it was easy to forget that we were actually in Italy.  

Bolzano has only been Italian since the end of WWI, when Italy got part of Austria.  For this reason the buildings all have a Bavarian look and the residents still speak German.  The street signs were in Italian and German.

We were there at the perfect time to see the beautiful fall foliage.

This is a victory monument or triumphal arch is dedicated to the fallen soldiers of WWI. It was created in 1928 on the orders of Mussolini and the monument is controversial.  Chuck thinks that Mussolini had the monument erected as an "in your face" statement to the (former Austrian) citizens of the city.

We enjoyed walking in the main part of the old city.

We stopped at a restaurant that had sidewalk seating.  It was located off the largest plaza.  

I ordered Weinerschnitzel because I knew it would be authentic.  

That is a loganberry compote on the side and some thin sliced potatoes.  It was very good.  It was only after I had finished eating that I noticed the Michelin stickers on the door.  

I was under the impression that restaurants who had Michelin rating were expensive, but this one was not.
I am including the name of the restaurant just in case you or someone you know is ever in Bolzano they will know where to go.

After lunch we walked several blocks to reach the cable car entrance.  There is a cable car that goes up over 2 miles into the mountains surrounding the city.

The views are terrific.  There were lots of mountain side vineyards. 

Once on top, we took a light gauge railway to other tiny villages.  From the top you can see the Dolomites in the distance. 

It was a perfect day trip, the weather was great and the scenery beautiful.


Friday, November 23, 2018

FOTO FRIDAY - 11/23/18

Dear Family and Friends,

Todays Friday photo was made last month in Mantua, Italy.  I will be sharing a post in the next couple of days about our visit there.  

Audrey and Jim, looking at the garden outside the gate.

Have a great Friday.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Day trip to Bologna

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I took the train to see Bologna.  It was founded in the middle ages. Bologna is famous for its towers, churches and porticos.  Also, bologna (baloney) is made there. They call it mortadella.

The main reason I was anxious to visit Bologna was because my dad served in Italy during WWII.  I remember stories about the Po Valley.  Bologna is the largest city in the Po Valley.  

One of the unique things about this city is the porticos.  The buildings all have them.  Great shade in the summer and perfect for when it is raining.  

We walked from the train station, under these porticos, to the central square, Piazza Maggiore. This plaza contains the San Petronio Basilica.

The unique thing about this basilica is that it is unfinished. The construction of the building began in 1390 but was never finished - and still today it's main facade is incomplete.

Around the corner from this plaza is another plaza with a very large fountain of Neptune.  Here is Chuck standing next to the fountain.

A bit of trivia about this fountain. The trident being held by Neptune inspired the Maserati brothers as an emblem for their first car and it is now used as the logo for the company.

Bologna, like most Italian cities, has wonderful street markets.

The statue below is of Garibaldi, the general who unified Italy a little over 150 years ago.

After lunch, chuck and I took a tour of the city that included a trip to the Sanctuary of the Madonna de San Luca.  It is located on top of a hill outside the city. It was constructed in 1723.  One unique thing about this church is the mile or more of covered walkway from the center of town to the church.  It provides shade for pilgrims.

After a day of touring, we walked back to the train station and got our train to return back to Verona.  

While we were in that city, my thoughts were on my dad and wondering if I was walking in some of the same places he did.

Our train ride home was made very enjoyable because we watched the sunset as we traveled home.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Day trip - Bordolino

Dear Family and Friends,

Bordolino is located right on Lake Garda about 16 miles northwest of Verona.  For us to go there we only had to take a bus.  After about 45 minutes we were getting off the bus in Bordolino.

Bordolina is a tourist town, and although there were a lot of tourists there when we were, we did not see other U.S. tourists.  Being in northern Italy, this town attracts many German tourists.  Also the Italians of course. 

We just by chance happened to be here during their wine it was probably much more crowded than usual.

This is a typical shopping street leading down to the lake.

This German tourist was easy to identify.  

Fresh grapes on display for the wine festival.   

We had lunch outside, right on the lake front.  It was great people watching.  As with our other meals in Italy, the food was fantastic.

After lunch we went to the olive oil museum.  It was a good museum that showed the process of olive oil production from harvesting from the tree to finished product.  

Olive oil production has not changed much in all these years.

The museum had a huge gift shop attached.  They had all sorts of olive oil, balsamic vinegars, crackers, breads and other goodies.  All this with free tasting.
We bought olive oil and balsamic vinegar to take with us to enjoy while we were on the cruise.

Although I do not have photos to share of the museum, I have some photos of ripe olives.  By the way, NEVER, pick and olive off the tree and taste it.  Oh my, it is so BITTER!

Had a great day, and we were also happy to get back home to Verona to rest up for another day trip.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Our first day trip - Venice

Dear Family and Friends,

The first day trip we took out of Verona was to Venice. Venice is about an hour away by train. 

The amazing thing is that when you walk out the front of the train station....there you are.  Yep, this is Venice, no doubt.

The green domed building across from us is the Church of San Simeone Piccolo.  This is the first glimpse of Venice most visitors get.

We were amazed and overwhelmed by the scenery and the number of people.  

After we walked and dodged folks a bit, we ducked into a coffee stop that had a quiet patio in the back.  It was very serene and good to get out of the crowd for a bit.

This man was the only other person on the patio. I am guessing he is a local enjoying his morning paper and coffee out of the crowd of tourists.  We were lucky to find this quiet spot.

We walked a bit and enjoyed the scenery before taking a water taxi to St. Mark's Square on the other side of Venice.

The sights from the water taxi were great.  Here are a few.

A ship was docked at a pier. I don't know if it is always there or not.  Fun to see the tall masts.

The buildings were fun to see.  Maybe a hotel?

This church is Santa Maria del Rosario, which means St Maria of the Rosary.   

This church is Santo Stefano (St. Stephen).  It was founded in the 13th century.

And, finally we could see the prominent San Marco Campanile (bell tower of St. Mark's Basilica) from a distance. 

When we got off the water taxi we walked, shopped and had lunch.

There were many shops containing Murano glass.  Murano glass is made on the Venetian island of Murano, which has been a glassmaking center for over 700 years.  If we were there for more than just a day trip we would have gone to the island for a visit to the glass factory.

Masks, of course, are very popular.  There were many types to pick from.

Here is Chuck in front of the St. Zaccaria Church, across from the restaurant where we had lunch.

After lunch we walked toward St. Mark's Square enjoying the canals and gondolas with tourists.

We finally made it to the big attraction.  St. Mark's Square was more than crowded, it was packed.  

St. Mark's Basilica is the most popular attraction in Venice.  The bell tower was casting a shadow on the entrance. 

Here is a closer look at the beautiful entrance.

Nearby is the Torre del'Orologio (St. Mark's clock tower)

This is Doge's (King's) Palace.  Another very famous and visited building in Venice.  It is now a museum.

In front of the palace were gondolas parked in their slips.

From a church bell tower across the Grand Canal, Chuck took these great vista photos of Venice.

We took the water taxi back to the train station and returned to Verona after a wonderful quick trip to Venice.