Friday, May 28, 2010

"Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow"- Shakespeare

Arrivederci Lago Maggiore! Onward…

Today we traveled to Verona (oh Romeo , oh Romeo, where art thou Romeo?) and on the way we made two stops. One, was in Bergamo and the second was at the Al Rocol Vineyard in Brescia. Bergamo reminded me of a town you’d seen in a movie. We traversed back and forth up the side of hills to get to this walled city that has been around for centuries. At the point where we arrived for our tour you could see down into the villages below and the view was picturesque. We walked through a tiny street down to (drum roll please) the Piazza Vecchia! Yes, yes our name. Actually, before you get all excited I have to tell you that Vecchia means “old” so it is very common is front of store, square or city names. Basically, this is a square that led to other tiny streets as well as the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Colleoni Chapel. We were able to tour both the Basilica and the Chapel. We learned about the architecture and the art style of the time period. Both were very gaudy (or at least to me they were) and cold (literally). The Basilica is filled with tapestries and fresca paints, but wherever there is not paint or tapestries there is colorful marble or wooden art. The place is so busy that your eyes are overwhelmed by all the colors. The Chapel on the other hand- is purely marble. It is a tiny chapel that Bartolomeo Colleoni dedicated to himself and is buried in. I’d say he was a pretty cocky guy. His name is everywhere you look. I have to give more credit to the guy that designed/built the work of art- Giovanni Antonio Amadeo- if that ain’t Italian I don’t know what is. After a long tour, which included the remarkable architectural history (YAWN), we met back in the square and were on our way to the Vineyard! Don’t get me wrong, I like history but after two hours I was ready for lunch and some vino.

The Al Rocol Winery is located on the outskirts of Brescia, in a town where over 100 wineries compete for rankings in the market. We were able to take their sparkling vino as well as one of their red and white vino. They served us a variety of foods that complimented the vino and it was amazing to see how the wine is processed as we got a tour of the cellar. Did I mention that at the vineyard there were goats, lambs and rabbits frolicking around in the brush? No, we didn’t eat them and no we didn’t hunt them! But, you get an idea of the setting. Our table was outside under a shaded area and lunch was light (finally- less than 4 courses). I loved the winery and the best part was that the wine was super cheap. My sister got 2 bottles for 10 euros- that’s about 13 U.S. dollars. This is not cheap wine either, actually the quality is one of the best in Italy! They say it is so cheap because the vino is made in that particular city. It is not shipped and it is not imported. It is made in their cellar, off their vines. Plus, there are several other competing wineries nearby, so the cheaper the better.

Now, we are at the Due Torri Hotel Baglioni in Verona and I am slightly intimidated by the fact that as soon as you step outside our hotel entrance, there is a church, and oh down the street- there is another church. AND if you’re just so lucky to walk the street in the opposite direction- another church.

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