Here’s another round of post catch-up, and more of my visit to Verona. This chunk included one of the better meals of my life, which most likely edged into my all-time top five (So long, fresh-made tacos in Tijuana. I hope you enjoy being relegated to the top ten.), so check out the pictures below (click to enlarge):
A late lunch crammed in between site-seeing sessions, this pizza held me over until a late dinner.
Verona's quiet backstreets are great for refreshing crowdless exploring.
Cangrande I brought Dante here, after the poet was exiled from Florence, and his statue occupies a central position in this square.
Although these squares seem quaint now, the old fortresses and towers that surround them were built for nefarious purposes.
Yet another sample from my ongoing series of photos of people taking photos of people posing for photos.
Verona's squares are enclosed by arches like this one, remnants of a time when large areas could be closed off.
Cangrande I's equestrian statue, which I showed in my post about the Castelvecchio, one stood over an arch around here. Scarpa tried to provide a similar view from below, but also gave visitors the treat of seeing the statue's wide smile up close.
There was a big wedding taking place in this church when I went by.
I wonder where Scarpa got his obsession with detail.
Sant'Anastasia makes an OK place for a wedding. I waited a while for the ceremony to finish, hoping to get a photo of the couple as they emerged from the church, but I gave up after about twenty minutes, seeing that the mass was far from over.
I figured that with a line of locals like this, the gelateria inside had to be good.
After vacilating for a while, I settled on a cup of hazelnut (nocciolo). It was pretty good, and obviously I'm writing home about it.
Hills surround Verona's northern extents, making pretty decent spots to build villas.
I decided to hike up to the castle on the top of this hill to get a panoramic view. It wasn't much of a hike compared to anything I encountered in Central Asia.
This hike was paved, and had steps.
A look east, towards the area from which the conquering Venetians came.
I'm not sure it would have been possible to pick a hill with a more picturesque view to climb.
Seems like a pretty good place for a vendetta.
Sant'Anastasia's tower is one of the more recongnizable elements in Verona's skyline. These trees do their best job to emulate it.
They're barely visible in this photo, but there's a couple having wedding photos taken on this bridge.
The Duomo is recognizable by its square white tower.
Verona is another one of those cities where layers of architectural interventions coexist side by side. Here is a baroque addition to a medieval church.
Although I know I shouldn't, when I hear the word, "duomo," I automatically expect cathedral with a huge public square in front, but Verona's is much more compact and understated than those in Milan or Florence.
The door to the duomo is guarded by these strange beaked beasts.
Another view across the Piazza delle Erbe.
On my last night in Verona, I splurged, and went to dinner at a restaurant that I had found earlier in the day. It was on a narrow side street off the beaten path, where no tourists could find it, and seemed to be only patronized by people in the know. Before my first course, they brought out this crab salad, which was garnished with a little bit of basil and olive oil. I also started out with a half bottle of local soave.
I asked the waiter what he recommended, and he got very excited. He told me that they had just this morning gotten in some Sardinian tuna that was only available for one month during the year. The chef was walking by as he said this, and exclaimed with glee that it was a "very particular" dish, and was exactly what he would order. With this glowing recommendation, I had not choice but to get the tuna. It was spectacular.
After looking at the prices on the menu, and with a still shrunken stomach from a long journey, I decided to only order two courses. This was the second course, which the chef hurried over to tell me was even "more particular" than the previous dish. This was cuttlefish pasta done right, with little tiny cuttlefish that are only available for twenty days per year. Just mentioning them brought a beaming smile to the waiter's face. Unlike the similar dish that I had in Venice, the cuttlefish just melted in my mouth, and the ink sauce was the perfect consistency. It was topped with shaved dried anchovies, which added a salty kick much in the way that Parmagiano Reggiano does for non-fish dishes, but was not overpowering.
At the waiter's further recommendation, I decided to have desert in-house, and ended up ordering this, which the waiter described as flaky pastry filled with cheese and berries, but was not too sweet. It was also sprinkled with an "Indian meat spice," that imparts a "very particular" flavor not often found in deserts. As this was the "most particular" desert on the menu, I couldn't resist. It was not the sort of thing that I would have typically ordered (no chocolate), but I was pleasantly surprised by the subtle flavors, and it really wasn't too sweet. Before bringing it out, they also brought out a small cup of gelato as a palate cleanser, and the waiter asked me to identify the flavor. After slowly enjoying it, and doing my best to localize every single flavor, I came up empty, and meekly guessed cucumber. It turned out to be parsley, and I was surprised at how good it was.
Last up, with my espresso, they brought me a full plate of biscotti. After having only ordered the two courses, I was glad that I had decided not to go for three, because I was completely stuffed. I was so stuffed that I was only able to cram three of these in my mouth before calling it quits.