Last Day in Verona
Sep 13, 2007
|Janette and I decided to each do our own thing today. After breakfast, I headed out to do a final church sprint. First it was San Zeno Maggiore. Crossing the bridge to Castelvecchio, I took a right and walked down the river for about 10 minutes before cutting into the area for the church.
San Zeno is a Romanesque basicilia (San Zeno was the 8th bishop of Verona), and is considered to be one of the finest of its type anywhere in the world. It was first built in the 4th century next to a Benedictine monastery (only a massive brick tower is left of the monastery), and the present structure was built between 1120 and 1398. There are many features on the inside of the basicilia, including the Gothic ceiling, many frescoes, the bronze doors (behind the wooden ones you see from the outside) and the crypt containing the altar with the body of San Zeno. I loved the monolithic (probably 8-10 feet across) baptismal fountain (by Briolato) with the painting of the crucifixion above. As usual, I'm finding that photos don't do these priceless pieces any justice, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
Also beautiful is the basilica's cloister (completed in 1313). The outer façade features a rose window, also by Master Briolato, which is also known as the "wheel of fortune".
From San Zeno, I made my way back past Castelvecchio, behind the Arena, and back to San Fermo Maggiore, which Janette and I had passed by before. This time it was open, and I wanted to go inside as it is actually two churches -- one built on top of the other. An architectural club sandwich, as it were. The structure is a Romanesque church on the bottom (begun about 1070), while the upper church is Gothic. Both churches were reconstructed in the 13th century by the Benedictines, and both are currently under extensive restoration. Lots of scaffolding, but a fascinating thing to see a hidden staircase leading you to another full church under the main church.
I walked back along Via Mazzini, "the" shopping street, to Piazza Bra and the Arena. I had lunch in a small trattoria near the square -- a wonderful gnocchi with gorgonzola and walnuts (will have to try to make that one at home).
Since I had purchased another Verona Day card, I decided to pop over to the Teatro Romano across the river. On the way I saw the statue of Garibaldi. I haven't seen anything written about this, so will have to do some post-trip research to see if this is connected to the Garibaldi name that we see all over British Columbia. Also along the way I saw three beautiful Porsche convertibles parked outside Santa Anastasia.
Teatro Romano was built in the 1st century AD and is still used (tonight it will host a tango show). Above the amphitheatre is the Archaeological Museum, founded in 1923 on the premises of a 15th century convent. It is a small museum, but has some very nice examples of Greek vases, sculptures and mosaics. Lovely views back to the central part of the city.
Walking back towards "home", I had to stop for one more gelato at Porta Borsari -- this ain't no Dairyland chocolate!
Back to La Quercia for dinner, and I had the boiled meats (which is served with a sauce made with bread and lots of pepper). Davide and Giusy were there with one of Giusy's friends (Patrizia) from Sicily. She brought a dessert from a shop called Capo d'Orlando -- baba-inis (I'm sure Davide will correct my spelling!), which are like small donut holes, soaked in limoncello, and covered with a lemon cream. The recipe is supposedly a secret, but I love a challenge! I will have to see if there is some way to recreate it.
After dinner we went up to a bar terrace high above the city (west of Castel San Pietro) to enjoy one last view of Verona.