16 Juni 2022

“What, Drawn and talk of peace?”

This is a line from a play that every college bound kid in high school has had to read for probably the last 100 years. The line comes from Romeo and Juliette. This play was centered in Verona, Italy. My kids have insisted the play is not based on a true story, but I am not so sure. We actually saw the balcony on Juliette’s house where she and Romeo had the famous scene.

Balcony at “Juliette’s House”

We even stumbled across Romeo’s house. It just has to be true. 🙂 Surely, no one would be so crass and commercial as to try and make a Euro off of such a tragic story. We took a one day detour from Milan to visit Verona, and it is a captivating city.

We started our day in the center of the city next to an amphitheater. The amphitheater was actually built about 50 years before the Colosseum in Rome. Though this place has obviously been cared for a lot better, because it is still in use today!

It is not as big, but then again Verona is not nearly as large as Rome. Unfortunately, we did not have time to go on a tour of the amphitheater, but that is just a reason to go back!

We walked over to the Castle San Pietro, which sits on top of a hill just outside the city proper. We thought this a great place to get an overview of the city, and we had a fabulous lunch! Early afternoon we toured the Botanical Gardens, and toured some of the churches before heading back to Milan for the night. Julie and I decided we needed a break about 6:00 pm so we stopped off at the Hard Rock Cafe for some nachos and drinks while George toured one last museum. We walked about 9 miles during the day and it was really hot, but we had great time.

Verona is the second largest city in Northern Italy. The city proper has about 250,000 residents, but when you take into account the entire metropolitan area the population jumps up to almost 800,000. One interesting thing I learned is that Bern is German for Verona. No one know for sure when Verona was settled, but it became under Roman control about 300BC and in the year 49 BC Verona was granted Municipium status. This was a BIG deal back in those days, because it meant the citizens of the city had FULL Roman citizenship as well. For the next 1800 years Verona seemed to be the prize in all of the conflicts in Northern Italy. It makes a lot of sense. Verona is a nice kicking off point for the alps.

Italy still has some of the Covid protocols in place. Not many, but you do have to wear your mask on all public transportation, and in many of the tourist attractions there were signs posted asking people to wear masks. You could tell the temperatures were climbing during the day just based on mask compliance. In the morning when it was cooler mask compliance was over 90%. However, during the day as it got warmer and warmer you could see the number of people wearing masks dropping and dropping. In the morning, the train conductor forced one woman to put on the right mask, but on the train ride home, the staff just completely ignored the 40% that were either not wearing one at all, or were wearing a mask down at their chin. I think the whole world is becoming tired of Covid.

I have learned that living across an ocean from your kids has made Julie and I old softies. We have a hard time saying no to anything our kids ask of us any more. This was a little thing, but…. I am pretty sure I told you before that George spent a semester “studying” in Milan. He talked over and over about how a couple of times each week he would just head over to the Duomo and go up to the roof where he would sit and read, or just contemplate life. Julie and I went to mass in the Duomo when we visited three years ago. We took the whole tour, and even went up on the roof, but because our son asked we found ourselves heading back up again Sunday morning before we came back home.

I have to admit the Duomo is on one hand the most ugly church in the entire world, but on the other hand it is absolutely beautiful. The outside, at least to me, is simply gaudy. There are way to many spires and steeples. All of which are ornately carved and adorned with statues. There is not one side of the building that is serene and church like. Again in MY OPINION. However, on the inside, it is as beautiful as any of the old cathedrals we have ever visited. The stained glass windows are incredible, and the other artwork is magnificent.

Heading back home we got one last ride on the trams of Milan. Somehow, we missed the trams on our first trip. We took the subway everywhere, but our son told us that the tram system was much easier to navigate, and required a lot less walking than using the subway. The trams reminded me a lot of the trams I had seen in San Francisco. The similarities struck me so much, that I started looking into it, and it turns out there is a reason for the similarity.

“In 1984, one Milan tram (No, 1834) came to San Francisco for the summer Trolley Festivals that led to construction of the F-line. It proved so reliable that Muni obtained ten more in 1998 to meet the huge F-line rider demand.”

It turns out, though, that Milan brought the trains over from the US in the beginning. Milan and San Francisco, though are about the only two cities that still run these really old Peter Witt trams.

inside one of the Milano Trams

George had to leave for the US yesterday. As usual the flights were all messed up. This time it was not the fault of United! There was a hardware malfunction in the Swiss Air Defense System early Wednesday morning. So all air traffic was stopped in Swiss air space for about four hours. This of course wreaked HAVOC on flights the rest of the day. He wound up only leaving 90 minutes late, but when you only have a 2 hour layover and have to clear customs it might as well have been 6 hours! George called me as I was writing this, and told me he did actually get in about midnight so it could have been a lot worse. He did laugh, because once he got through customs he had about 15 minutes to “make” the flight. Of course it was on the other side of the airport. He went to a United attendent, and they told him “They are holding the plane for you. Run and you will be fine.” So of course he believed the attendant, so he ran through the airport got to the gate, and the plane had left. What REALLY ticked him off, though, was the plane was scheduled to depart at 5:05. He got to the gate just before 5:00, but they had already closed the doors, and pushed away from the terminal. Oh well, United was pretty good about getting him on the next flight; so it worked out pretty well.

I am not sure I will get the chance to post next week. We leave Saturday morning for a week in Greece. If I can tear myself away from relaxing I will try and make one post next week, but if the Ouzo is flowing well please ignore more typos and grammatical errors than normal.

I hope you enjoy the last of the pictures from Milan and Verona.

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