Tuesday, September 30, 2008

San Zeno

San Zeno is one of the most beautiful churches in Verona and certainly a masterpiece of the Art Roman, a phase of the medieval art, dating back the X-XI century. In this period the church was, more or less, finished as we see it now (apart from various bits such as the abside and the ceiling, finished in gothic style in 1398) but the original structure is way older: a church built on the tomb of the Saint who died in 380 a.C.

I like to visit this church and I try to imagine the scenes that may have occurred during the centuries: there are so many anectodes and legends regarding the place and the Saint, protector of Verona.

We like to come here on sunny mornings, have a coffee at a little café on the square, under the trees, while our daughter is free to run. Sometimes we also have lunch, in a typical restaurant, a few steps from the café. Once a month, on a saturday, a little antiques marquet is held here. It is very special - no furniture or big stuff - only objects, jewels, paintings, books...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tocatì, last day

Today it was the last day of Tocatì so we spent most of the time out on the streets to see the games. Some places were really chock-a-block and it was almost impossible to penetrate the human barrier to take a look at what was going on. I liked this one, the "Back Hold": in this position the two players have to try to put the other one aground. I so much liked the skirts!
So the sixth edition of Tocatì is finished. Tomorrow the streets will be quiet again. Well, quet-ish...

Note the Borsalino sign: under the arches there is the shop, a very famous and traditional italian hat designer. They have the most beautiful hats!

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Tocatì: veronese dialect word that in italian is "tocca a te", meaning "it's your turn".
Tocatì is an International Festival of Street Games. It begun yesterday and will end tomorrow evening. The guest country this year is Scotland. It's a veeery busy week end in town! Most of the squares of the hystorical centre host one or more traditional games. It's not only the games that make this event really interesting, there are, in fact exhibitions, meetings and conferences, music and tastes and other special events. I suggest you take a look!

The spirit of the event is to promote and keep alive the spirit of the traditional games, some of which really ancient. Like this scottish team game I saw this morning in Piazza delle Erbe, it's called "Carrachd Uibist" which I didn't really understand, but it was funny to watch. I have chosen this photo because of the set and the many colourful people playing. But there were many many other smaller games that were being played, even just with small wooden objects whose names I don't know but they seemed really sweet: the sort of games that our grand parents might have known as children...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ham and Mozzarella

I come to this shop almost everyday. It's a tiny "alimentari" that sells fresh products and the average stuff like pasta, biscuits, canned tomatoes, wine...
Although I buy weekly at the supermarket, there is always something I need like fresh milk or some nice prosciutto crudo di Parma (special ham) or other delicious salumi, all shown in the photo. They also have a selection of cheeses from the south of Italy: my favourites are the Mozzarella di Bufala and the Scamorza (sometimes smoked).
I walk in with one item to buy and I tend to get more than that: some bread? Yes, and maybe some fresh salad? Oh yes, there is a little selection of fruits and vegetables so I often pick up some loooovely basilico (basil) for my tomato sauce... And..yes...bananas, they have the best ones! Oooh, and those black olives! Mmmhh... after all, the shop is called "La bottega delle cose buone"!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Torre de' Lamberti

This tower has been overlooking the heart of Verona for eight centuries; its construction dates back to 1172! The higher part, built in white marble hosts two huge bells which were mounted in 1295: the smaller one was used to alarm the population in case of fire; the bigger one was used to summon both the town council and the male population to fight in case the town was being attacked.

Today the tower is a much loved viewpoint and every day hundreds of tourists take a lift (although one can also mount the hundreds of steps...) to the top to admire the view, just above Piazza delle Erbe. I went up there two times and the view is just beautiful. Besides there are so many noticeable details to be spotted from such height... like the lovely, flowery, little terraces on the tiled rooftops, whose existence one cannot even imagine...

Where would you go if you want to see a view over your town?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Piazza dei Signori

I like the mix of architectural styles here. Piazza dei Signori was created in medieval times and since then it has always been the place of political and administrative power of the town. The brick building, Palazzo del Podestà, hosts the province offices, while the yellow building is called Loggia di Fra Giocondo and was built to host the town council although today it is used for art exhibitions.

The square is adjacent to Piazza Erbe and it's a favourite meeting point for moms with kids. I have made friends with a bunch of mothers so we often come here in the afternoon. We sit on the marble step just beneath the arches while our children play. We call the square Piazza Dante, (rather than dei Signori), because of the poet's statue. I like it as an alternative to the Park for my daughter: good to play among art and history treasures!

Which is a favourite moms and children place in your town?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Juliet's house and love messages

This place is surely the most visited spot in town. It's nonetheless than Juliet's house (and balcony, yes). Shakespeare's drama Romeo and Juliet was set in Verona. Some hundreds meters from here there is Romeo's home (which is private. Wow, can you imagine saying I live in Romeo's house?!?!).
This little courtyard is incessantly crowded. Can you see the bronze statue of Juliet, a bit darkened by the leaves above her? People queue to go and touch Juliet's right breast, in fact it is so polished that it shines. The gesture is meant to bring good luck in love!

What you see on the left is the final part of the arched corridor that opens on Via Cappello. It may be five meters long and the walls are covered by felt tip names and hearts and dates... Being the walls a total thick graffiti, people started attaching notes to it. Worst thing is: they stick them with bubble gums! EEwwh! A permanent problem for the town council: how cope with this...issue. I think once in a while they paint them white and it all starts again...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Free press distributors

There are three free press newspapers here in Verona. You can find them in shops and cafés, or sometimes piled in a corner. But there are also girls and boys distributing them, here and there. This morning I spotted two distributors working next to each other, which seemed a bit odd.

I suppose having free information can be fair (although my husband who is a journalist might have a couple of doubts on the subject) but the quantity of papers left everywhere just because you haven't paid for it, is just no good!

Do you have free press newspapers in your town?

Monday, September 22, 2008


All year, but especially during the summer, Verona is packed with tourists from all over the world. Many of them are on strict itineraries, like, say Milan, Verona, Venice, Florence, Rome in a week...or so. Maybe that's why souvenir shops in the crowded historical town centers sell postcards and items from different towns. Here in Verona one can buy carnival masks, glass items and postcards from Venice...

This scene makes me smile: the two men are looking at the Arena which is on their right. The girls are intensely looking at a souvenir kiosk on their left (except one of them who seems to be more intrigued by the big square ahead).

Do you have many tourists in your town?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Street musician

This guy is a street musician and plays lovely music. While you are sitting at the restaurant or in a café, he'd come by and play his east european songs. I just love them. Some weeks ago he was playing just opposite the pizzeria where we were having lunch. His sweet, humble look was so striking with the luxury shop at his back...
When he finishes playing he passes among the tables with a hat in one hand where one can put some coins as an offer for the lovely music. He is always so polite and dignified.
I have been seeing him around for years. I knew that he was also asked to go and play at parties!
I like when he is around: music makes everything look nicer and adds a special romantic touch to any place.

Are there street musician where you live?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Stop and watch. Drinking tea.

This is my table, yesterday, at Caffé Anselmi. Piazza Erbe was quite busy, Elena was sleeping in her stroller, there couldn't be a better option than sitting down, order a tea and read. I relax, read and occasionally I glance over my book to see who's passing by, or who's ordering coffee near me, or what vegetable is this man on a blue bike buying at the stall in front of me...
Funny how many things are going on around me, ... if only one just stops and watch...!

Do you ever stop and watch (drinking tea)?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Horse and carriage

Whenever I see this carriage I can't help thinking about this old Sinatra's song
Love and marriage, Love and marriage, go together like horse and carriage!
This is Via Mazzini, one of the shopping streets in the very centre of the town. It is always very very busy. Some weeks ago I was ..."window shopping" at Cartier's (on the right) when I heard the clok clok clok of the horse and quickly pulled out the camera from my bag. I am always surprised when I see it, because it's really lovely and romantic. If I am not wrong it costs 30Euros for one hour ride, but I think you can also do the half an hour ride. This is a recent addition to the town's turist offer and it goes really well, especially in summer. I think I would really enjoy a tour!.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fruit and vegetable shop

This little shop, just off Piazza delle Erbe, sells delicious vegetables, fruits and special exotic products.
Also they specialize in having the earliest fruits, before they hit every market.
I like it because the stuff is always carefully displayed in wooden boxes or baskets and there are also special decorations, this time is laurel branches.
Plus, they write the price along with long and mouthwatering descriptions of each product, like say, "delicious, sweet, juicy peaches", or "crispy, refreshing lettuce" and "the sweetest red onions of Tropea" and so on.
All is really lovely and worth stopping and admire, and I am sure they sell the best on the market, but the prices are reeeally high! Once I was tempted to buy a handful of early season (like no one had them yet) cherries and they cost as much as two kilos when they are on every market stall!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


We often have a pizza in one of the restaurants in Piazza Bra. We like this one because the waiters are so nice and friendly and - of no less importance - the food is actually good.
The square patterned table cloth of the outside tables is quite a cliché of the typical italian trattoria, isn't it. This is our average choice: me, Pizza Bufala with fresh basil and cherry tomatoes; Elena, Pizza Margherita; Filippo, Calzone. Simple and yummy.

How do you like pizza?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Last summer days

This photo was taken a few days ago when the temperature was still very hot (around 30C). Piazza delle Erbe is the very heart of the town and so it has been since roman times, two thousand years ago. It is always very busy both with tourists and veronesi for whom it's a perfect meeting point. The market stalls sell fruits and veg but also straw hats, bags and all kind of (tacky) souvenirs.
There is a beautiful marble floor and stunning painted medieval buildings on the right. The arches below host cafés with outside chairs and umbrellas where I often sit for a coffee, watching the scene: a perfect moment of the day.

Do you have a special place for your coffee or tea?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Greetings from Verona

This looks really odd, I know. But if you knew that the place is Piazza Bra and at the back of the photographer stands the great roman Arena, you could work out that these egyptian statues are nothing more than part of the scenography of a huge opera show: the Aida by Giuseppe Verdi.
The neoclassical building with its corinthian colonnade is Palazzo Barbieri (1836), seat of the town council.

The Opera Festival opens in june and closes at the end of august.
This spot of the square is used for this purpose throughout the Festival. Along with Romeo and Juliet's, the Opera is the highlight of the town. The uniqueness of the venue makes the play absolutely enchanting.

I have seen Bizet's "Carmen" (twice, my favourite), Verdi's Macbeth and Aida.

Have you ever been to the Opera?

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