When you think Italy, what comes to mind? Art in Florence, Rome’s colosseum, the Amalfi Coast? Bet you didn’t immediately think of the Lombard region, and that’s too bad, because it is pretty special. This post will introduce you to three gems of Lombardy: one well known, the other two less so.
Remember Christo, whose 2005 spectacular Gates in Central Park had New Yorkers smiling even during a frigid February? (If you don’t, that’s okay. It isn’t essential to the post. I just happen to have fond memories of the event, so why not throw it in?)
Well, in 2016, he created the Floating Piers in Lake Isola. So, ya gotta figure this area must be pretty terrific for Christo to travel all the way across the Atlantic to Italy to create one of his massive installations.
Even though our visit was post-Christo art exhibition, it was still worth spending time in the Isola Lake area. Check out what the little island looks like “unwrapped”. It was once a monastery, but now it probably is privately owned, by someone who is fantastically wealthy, who wants to escape people like us ogling his/ her (probably his) property.
Almost everyone has heard of Prosecco. But what about Franciacorta? This sparkling wine, made from the Franciacorta region’s grapes, is equally delightful. I suspect that, like the Lombardy region, it just hasn’t been successfully marketed.
We walked through the Berlucci Vineyards, to their winery, where we enjoyed a tour, wine tasting and a great lunch.
Our hotel, the Relais Franciacorta was absolutely beautiful. It was rather far out, in the countryside, which was fine with us. We loved the gardens and all the hotel’s little nooks and crannies, one of which was the perfect venue for sharing the bottle of Franciacorta purchased at the vineyard.
And, as a bonus, a huge motorcycle group was holding an event at the hotel, giving us an opportunity to view totally unique bikes, like this one. I’m guessing that’s the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) riding shotgun (or would that position be called “front gun”? They didn’t have motorcycles during those Wild West days, so who knows.)
One of the big attractions in Verona is “Juliet’s Balcony”. Yeah, Shakespeare’s Juliet. There was a long line at the entrance to the jam-packed courtyard where Roméo was supposed to have stood while gazing at Juliet, who was above, on that legendary balcony. But this “balcony” was actually a movie set, created several decades ago. We figured if we wanted to see movie sets, we could go to Universal studios, so we skipped that attraction. Instead, we visited the Juliet Society.
The Juliet Society is a group of volunteers who answer letters written to Juliet that come from all over the world, like the one below.
Still, even we couldn’t escape Hollywood’s reach. You see, the Juliet Society was used as inspiration for the movie, Letters to Juliet.
Okay, I’ll confess, when I got home I borrowed the movie from our library, and it was really, really sappy. It’s all about a letter that had been lost for several decades, was found by a volunteer, who then went on a mission to find and reunite both the writer and the intended recipient of the letter. I don’t have to tell you how it ends. I’m sure you just know.
The actual site, the one WE visited, bore no resemblance to the movie set. For the movie, the Juliet Society was housed in a gorgeous villa, complete with mamas in an adjoining kitchen, cooking great lunches for the volunteers. How surprising that Hollywood’s “take” is so very, very different from reality.
When in Italy, I usually find it difficult to decide which meal was THE BEST and which restaurant experience was THE BEST, but this time I had no problem proclaiming that Il Punto Rosa Hosteria deserves both titles. This little gem is on a side street, and it isn’t very big, but between Google and Trip Advisor, I’m sure you’d be able to find it. If we ever get back to Verona, you can bet we will be having dinner there!
Time for a couple of random photos of Verona, a heartfelt confession, and we’ll call this post done.
First the confession. I am a lazy blogger, who lives the Quaker philosophy of “when the spirit moves you“. (Okay so that’s one of the only two things I know about Quakers. The other being that they are pacifists. Oh wait. I just thought of one more. Richard Nixon was supposedly a Quaker. But I digress.) The point of that digression is I blog when the spirit moves me. And it didn’t move me last October, during the second half of our trip. It took a frigid January day in New Jersey to get me hankering to revisit those glorious Italian fall days. What could be better than reliving wonderful days in Italy when it is icy outside? Nothing, right?
We were in Verona on day 9 and 10 of a 15 day trip, so who knows? If it is cold again this week, we may just taking another trip down memory lane, to Brixen, Bassano del Grappa and the Dolomites.
Okay, so here are those random Verona photos I promised earlier.
As with most Italian cities, Verona has its share of beautiful buildings, and statues, but hey, just look at what else you can experience while there.
Verona has it all. Go shopping for cannabis “light” first, then wander down to the Colosseum. Yes, Verona has one too. If you get wasted enough, you might actually believe you are in Rome, doing battle with gladiators. One more thing to cross off your bucket list.
Speaking of bucket lists, I sure hope Lombardy is now on yours.