A week ago today, we arrived in Verona â€“ a surprise trip for Keir's 65th birthday. The surprise was a bit spoiled by his guessing the destination at Glasgow airport (my fault, for suggesting he took a rain poncho, which gave him enough of a clue). But I'd have had to tell him anyway on the flight, because the BA flight arrived so late at Gatwick that it was clearly going to be a matter of jogging to the departure gate to Verona anyway. Apparently they don't guarantee the connection.
Anyway, we made it (just) and had daytimes free to sightsee. The Verona card is brilliant value: 2 days for EUR15 gets you in to almost everything, even free bus rides, although Verona's historic centre, within a meander of the River Adige and enclosed by the city walls, is so compact that we just walked everywhere. Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet here and Verona happily exploits this connection in the shape of "Juliet's house" (complete with famous balcony, constructed c 1930!) and "Juliet's tomb" both of which are pleasant and interesting visits if you don't take an unduly literal approach.
Evenings were devoted to a meal followed by opera, with a civilised 9.15 start and finish times ranging from 1.15 to 1.30 am). Temperatures were in the mid to high 30s!
We started with the Giardino Giusti, created in 1570 by Agostino Giusti, with a wonderful avenue of tall cypresses, glorious panoramas over the city rooftops and a labyrinth which we enjoyed bumbling our way around.
After the Teatro Romano with its fantastic museum of mosaics and statues, we went to the Church of Santa Maria in Organo, famous for its extraordinary marquetry. The music stand in the foreground was made from tiny pieces of wood by Fra Giovanni di Verona:
This extraordinary monk created about 25 of these masterpieces between 1477 and 1501. Here is another in the choir stalls, close up, so you can see how he created the perspective: