Sorry it has been a little while. I have two more entries I will hopefully have up in the near future. Hope all of those in Rutland had a good weeks vacation!
On Friday, Feb 12th I went with some of my friends, Kelly and George from UCal-Berkeley, Juri from Australia, and Jess from Emory, to Verona for the day. We left at 730am to go to Centrale Station in Milano. Verona is an hour and a half east of Milano and the train only cost 18 euros round trip. During the train ride I realized it was going to be a great day in an ironic way. The five of us bought second class tickets. We do not know what it is like in the first class cabins but Kelly and I kept each other entertained most of the trip by joking about it what it must be like. Second class cabins were freezing; I mean we could see our breath. Those of you who know me know I wear shorts even in the coldest conditions back home whether its snowing or just flat out freezing. I was wearing jeans on this trip and I wish I had a blanket!! Kelly and I were joking how they probably turn the heat off in second class to make us buy first class tickets. Our regional train also stopped a few times on the track just to let the bullet-trains pass us (before merging onto our track) and we would joke that first class passengers are already in Verona whereas those of us stuck in second class are still stopped somewhere between Verona and Milano. We finally got there around 10am(ish).
The weather was beautiful, must have been close to 10 or 12 degrees Celsius. The sun was shining and it was not humid out at all THANK GOD because our 368 step hike up the Tower would have been absolutely miserable. I will get to the tower in a little bit. We went into the information desk at the train station in Verona and a lady was super helpful. She spoke very good english but we were trying to speak some Italian to be respectful and she thought it was a riot. We bought a 'Verona Card' for 10 euros which allowed us free entrance into 13 different buildings and historic landmarks which is impossible to get to all of them in one day. We took the bus from the train station to downtown Verona and we were hesitant where to get off. Juri started to get off and we lackadaisically followed. She made it off of the bus and the doors slammed in front of us before we could get off. The expression on Juri's face was priceless as she was somewhere in Verona now by herself as we drive away on the bus! We got off at the next stop and went back to where she got off but it was hilarious (if you didn't laugh then you had to be there to see it).
First place we went to was the Arena. It was the first real "Italian" building I have seen besides the Duomo aforementioned that is in Milano. When I think of Italy I think of Pizza, Pasta, and Colosseum-esque buildings.
This was completed in 30 AD!! At the time it could seat 30,000 spectators for large operas and amphitheatre events. It was absolutely gorgeous. The steps were twice the size of normal steps and the view from the top of the arena was breath-taking.
You could see Towers and Castles all the way across the city. It was a beautiful sight and was a fantastic start to an increasingly better day! I don't know about all of the blog readers but in middle school I didn't have typical bathrooms that you find everywhere now. Mine looked like the picture below which was pretty damn cool if you ask me.
It was Valentines Day weekend in Verona so there were hearts hanging from the street lights. We were also told that the annual Carnival is going to be taking place so we decided to grab some food and see a few attractions before we go to the center where the Carnival would pass. We ate at this very nice (not 5-star or anything) place. I was about to drop dead of hunger and the hostess I think could tell so he pretty much shoved little breadsticks into my hands. The waiter came over and spoke mostly italian and I actually knew what he was saying!! I was pretty excited about that achievement. We all bought our own pizzas, ordered a 15 euro bottle of Champagne split between the 5 of us and it was GREAT!
We walked down cobblestone streets consisting of endless shops as well as a handful of mouth-watering gelato stores with 1 in particular that caught our eye. George and I started talking to the very cute woman who worked in this Gelateria while the girls went to the ATM. We promised we would be back for gelato later!! We passed impressive statues including that of Dante Alighieri (yea I dont know who he is either). We aimlessly wandered for a bit and ran into Romeo's house. It was nothing special, I mean it is historic and all but was rather disappointing. You could not go inside and could not really take a good picture because of the narrow street preventing a good angle for a descent picture. We saw Romeo's "casa" so why not go find Giulietta's (Juliet obviously)?
We got there and the sign distinguishing that it is her house was covered in graffiti and what not which was pretty sad. We saw the statue of Juliet and the famous balcony which I have to admit I took a great picture of!
Apparently if you rub the right breast of Juliet you will have good luck in love.
Bring on the good luck!! Apparently it doesn't work miracles right away and by analyzing the picture we can see George is rubbing the wrong breast making his luck stay the same. His facial expression agrees with the theory!
We walked into Juliet's house and found out it is a lot bigger than we thought. There were probably five different levels throughout the house. We saw some pottery, fireplaces, and most importantly her bed. Honestly, I am not into this type of stuff and find it a little boring. It was cool to see the historical sight, but it just isn't what I am interested in. We walked to Torre dei Lamberti (which since I am lazy will call it TdL); an 84 meter tall tower built in 1172 and was struck by lightning. TdL was restored in 1464 and the clock was added in 1779. Our Verona card enabled free entrance or we could pay 1 euro to climb the 368 steps. We decided to be adventurous and walk up the stairs; arguably the biggest mistake I have made in Italy yet. After 100 steps I was sweating and realized how quick someone can get out of shape. As a result, I was highly regretting this decision. 268 steps later we reached the top and it was completely worth it because of the indescribable view and the result of many lost calories. This means I can have more gelato when we get down! I took many pictures of the view below and chose this one. I posted all of the other pictures I took on the trip on http://s767.photobucket.com/home/Reynos4/allalbums.
We then hiked back down the Tower steps and went to the center for the Carnival Parade. It truly was awesome. As I write this a week after it happened, I have been to Venice and some other cool smaller places. Nothing has compared to this parade. I don't know if I was just in a super good mood or what but this festival was AWESOME! There were 4-wheelers, police cars, grandpas on bicycles, gorgeous girls dancing, and much more. Kids, Adults, and the Elderly were throwing confetti in people's faces and silly string being shot aimlessly and recklessly wherever your heart desires. Everyone and everything was COVERED in confetti and/or silly string. Kelly repeatedly got belted in the face by confetti by random Italians; it was priceless. It is almost a shame I came to this so early in my trip because it will be very difficult to beat the time I had in Verona.
We then walked to a castle. I am sorry if this ending gets boring; I am just so lazyyy and bored writing this at 130 am when I have class in 7 hours!! The view from the Castle (Castel San Pietro) was incredible and we got some good group shots off. From the castle you get a view of Verona surrounded by the Adige River.
We hiked back down and went to the Church/Cathedral. It is known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Matricolare. It was the most beautiful church I have ever been in. I knelt down and prayed for a little bit for everyone back home, my newly acquired friends, safety in traveling, and my dad watching above. Now when my mom asks if I went to church I can technically say Yes without sinning! I think this is the most beautiful picture I have taken so far because of the spectacular architecture, religious significance, and overwhelming beauty and size. This picture was taken from the back of the church (sorry its a little blurry but I wasnt even supposed to take a picture in the church).
We then went back to the gelato place where we ordered amazing gelato (as expected) and saw the cute employee who we had ensured our return. She did not remember us but I was not going to let that ruin our day! The carnival had gotten even bigger as floats BLASTING music passed down the streets. People were dancing in the streets, still spraying silly string and throwing confetti, and now free wine was being passed around left and right!! Could this place get any better? More confetti! More silly string! Free wine and Kelly being targeted by strangers with confetti! Unbelievable! We were all dancing in the streets singing and throwing confetti, listening to American music! haha As we left to catch our train the tower we had HIKED up was illuminated. I do not even need to explain my thoughts on this because I know you all will have the same reaction I did. I CLIMBED THAT!!! WHat a fantastic day, the sights, the sounds, and the time I had with my friends will be permanently engraved in my head. All pictures are posted on the website above for you to check out including two slideshows! Next blog will be my trip to Venice which was certainly NO VERONA.
Keep up the emails with statements and questions! None of this is possible without my mom giving me the wonderful support to study abroad as well as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute giving me the opportunity to attend Bocconi. Thanks again!!