Family Diary, August 2009
Flew Gatwick to Verona. Taxi to Romeo and Guillietta Hotel, booked through Citalia.
Hotel was small, but a great location as it is in an alley right next to the opera arena. Our room was okay but tiny, there was not even room to open the suitcase! However, the air conditioning was good and the shower was excellent. (It should perhaps be noted that in 2014, when we wanted to return to Verona to see an opera, we decided to stay here again. For position and price it is fabulous.)
Lunch in an outside pizza place, Canteena del Arena. Pleasant.
Walked around. Had coffee and ice cream and a spritz (which cost €19 each. Hmm.)
Found a supermarket.
Had dinner in the main square, right next to the Roman amphitheatre (which is where they stage the opera.) It looks better preserved than the one in Rome but is smaller.
Spent the evening walking through pretty squares which the children complained were spooky.
Wednesday: A brilliant day!
I woke 6am and made David get up. The boys joined us and we borrowed bikes from the hotel and cycled round Verona. It was perfect. Lovely cool air, very few people or cars. We saw lots of pretty squares and ancient buildings.
Back to hotel for breakfast.
Walked to Dante’s square and had coffee and ice cream.
Looked around a market. Some nice ‘touristy’ stuff.
Saw the balcony from ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
At 8pm, we went to the opera (we had pre booked our tickets when in England.) We were shown up to the stone steps, where everyone sat (apart from a few people who had paid extra for chairs in the main arena. I think our view was better, though probably not so comfortable. When we returned in 2014, we took garden chair cushions to sit on!)
They herded more and more people in and we kept squashing up until it was completely full. I liked it. It made you realise what it must have been like in Roman times, they sat on the same steps, looking at the same stage.
The two girls next to James (who we didn’t know) had a picnic. Somehow he managed to be invited to share it. He will go far in life.
The opera was brilliant. We had told the children that they had to stay at least until the first Act (it was Aida.) The boys left during the first interval and because the hotel was so near they could safely walk there on their own. A good first introduction to opera for boys.
Rebecca and David both stayed until the end. The Triumphant Entry scene was fantastic – there were 300 people on stage, including four white horses. (After that scene, everyone clapped and cheered and some people thought it was the end and left!)
It was probably not as good musically as The Royal Opera House in London, but without a doubt was the most impressive staging I have ever seen and was a brilliant introduction to opera for anyone who has never seen one. We sat on ancient stone steps and watched the moon rise in the warm sky while listening to the music. It was magical.
It finished about 12:45. We collected the boys and had a pizza and red wine supper. Everywhere was open, it was as busy as daytime. Went to bed 2am. Great day.
Thursday: Got up 8:30.
Breakfast in hotel (it is an okay breakfast, pleasant buffet and good coffee.)
Walked to a Roman theatre next to the river.
Woman giving out guide books at the entrance asked our nationality and David said, “German.” Why? We were then given all the information in German, which none of us can read.
Went back to hotel via market square and had iced drinks.
After dinner had hot chocolate in the square. It was very thick and dark, reminded me of blancmange, which my Mum used to make when I was young.
Went to bed early but had a bad night. Thin walls and the man in the next room had stomach upset. Most unpleasant.
Friday: Walked to cathedral. Rebecca had to wear a ghastly blue hooded cape over her shorts.
Drank lemonade on a terrace next to the river.
Lunch in square. Boys had buckets (literally) of lemonade.
Taxi to station, caught 4:30 to Milan. We discussed how noisy the Verona hotel had been. We all thought the sound proofing was very bad. Except for the boys. They said they had not heard a thing. But the lady next door had been very rude and kept banging on their wall. Oh dear.