Monday, March 4, 2013

Italy - Verona, Arriving in Vicenza After Dark

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Piazza Duomo, Verona. Photo credit: Dreamstime
50 miles - Tuesday, October 5

Andy and I eat the hostel’s two-roll breakfast and are still hungry. We head across the River Adige for Verona’s Roman core and stumble on an outdoor market. After buying more bread and fruit we relax on cement steps. Stands are opening. One woman deftly peels artichokes, dropping the hearts into 5-gallon buckets. A flower vendor’s pet is a drake. The duck waddled around his setup, gingerly stepping on granite cobblestones. A church is the major feature of the market square with statues leaning out from its roof like soldiers in guard towers.

Roman Arena. Photo credit: Rodrigo Siqueira, Postbit
Reluctantly, we move towards the Roman Arena. There are two story arches, all grey and black; it’s sharp edges worn smooth from 2,000 years. I long to visit the interior, but it’s too pricey for our bicycle budget. A wonderful backdrop - I imagine, from the brochure pictures - for concerts and operas that are held there in summer and fall.

Typical balcony in Verona.
Photo credit: Rodrigo Siqueira, Postbit
Needing to continue on, it’s a quick tour of the city, viewing Juliet’s Balcony and the Forum. Verona’s buildings are famous for their balconies, decorated in iron rails and potted flowers. Very quaint and old worldly.

We locate a bike shop, replace Andy’s shredded bike gloves, stock up on lubricant and new chains, then set off eastward for Vicenza. We follow the back roads initially, enjoying the solitude of vineyards and apple orchards, but we’re behind schedule. We must make it to Vicenza by nightfall for accommodation. Andy and I ride on a busier highway.

Verona's narrow streets and alleys.
Photo credit: Rodrigo Siqueira, Postbit

In Vicenza we confirm the campground with tourist information center and set off for the several kilometer ride, only to discover, at the entrance that the road is blocked. My heart sinks. It’s growing dark. We check at a hotel and discover camping had closed 3 days before. The clerk wrote down 3 ostellos (hostels). We scamper as fast as we can, but two had closed and the third wasn’t even a hostel. By now darkness settles around us like cold eerie fog. I am exhausted. Lights on vehicles are like shiny arrows in my mirror and I cringe every time at car darts by. We don’t have the best lights. I hope drivers can see us.

By now we must find a hotel. We get directions and by 8 p.m. roll the bikes inside the lobby, past the bar, into the kitchen, and outdoors into a courtyard by a – fortunately friendly – Doberman. It’s the Alpine Hotel, rated 1 Star, and relatively cheap: 60,000 Lire (roughly 40.00 USD) – just our style. I’m thankful to be somewhere.

Andy and I sit on twin beds, facing each other. We sip a $2.00 bottle of Chianti in our usual “classy” plastic mugs. In lieu of our standard pasta dinner – it’s not safe to light a stove – we eat the remains of lunch: rolls, fruit, cheese plus bowls of cereal.

It’s imperative that we locate a campground guide, either that or take a train south for warmer climes where camping is not a problem.


*Please excuse the lack of personal photos. After all, this was the film camera era and we were on a budget, stretching our resources to travel for a year.


  1. I hope you are headed south from here, Rome and south of it are so lovely, warm and friendly. Vicki

    1. No to worry. After visiting Venice we head due South.


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