Category Archives: ITALY

Verona and Lake Garda – a great two centre holiday in Italy

Verona, Italy

Verona, Italy

THEY are only a half hour journey apart but, for a memorable holiday full of contrasts, Verona and Lake Garda go together like Romeo and Juliet.

Of course, that”s what a lot of the tourist trail in the ancient Italian city of Verona is all about. The story of the two young lovers had been going the rounds for a long time before Shakespeare came along.

But he spun it in to a classic in which the pair belonged to rival families, one supporting the Pope and the other Emperor Frederick I.He set the scenes of the ball , the balcony , the secret marriage , the farewells , the suicide of Romeo and then of Juliet all in Verona in around 1302.

Shakespeare wrote this in 1597 without ever visiting the area. Verona later obliged by finding the buildings where these events might have taken place and tourists have been flocking for decades to see the balcony, Romeo”s house, Juliet”s tomb, etc.

But perhaps even more impressive than all this is the very real Roman amphitheatre, commonly known as The Arena, which dominates the city. The third largest in the Roman world after the Coliseum in Rome , it is 500 ft. long by 420 ft. wide and 100 ft. high. It could accomodate nearly 25.000 spectators.

Its origin is believed to date from the end of the first century and musical performances are still given in the theatre as it has perfect acoustics.

Verona was always an important city because of its strategic postion and in the Middle Ages was regarded as the key to northern Italy. So it abounds in architecture and fortifications which reflect the various stages of its history.

An example is its main art museum housed in what was once a castle – Castelvecchio – which was the most important military construction of the Scaliger dynasty which ruled the city in the Middle Ages.

The abbey of San Zeno is said to be the greatest example of Romanesque architecture in northern Italy, and is composed of three stages: the actual building during the ninth century, its renewal between 1120-1138 and an enlargement which followed in the same century.

After filling your head with history you can relax alongside the scenic paradise of Lake Garda which used to be a big favourite of wartime PM Winston Churchill, who liked to capture its beauty in his paintings.

Another part of the magic of Garda is dining out beside the lake at night. It is regarded as one of Europe”s most a href=”http://www.deutschgluecksspiel.de/” charming lakes – over online casinos/a 30 miles long and ranging from 1 – 10 miles wide throughout its length, and  over 350 yards in depth in certain areas.

Ferries cruise between the villages that dot it and you can cruise the ferries all day at reasonable prices taking in spots like upmarket Riva, at the north of the lake, and the beautiful village of Limone, named after its plantations.

You can take a ride in a cable car up Monte Baldo for a stunning view of the lake at the resort of Malcesine which offers an incredible panorama at a height of 1850 m.

The most famous town on the Lake is Sirmione which is home to the “Rocca Scaligiera” castle which is one of the main attractions of the Lake. Built by the Scaligieri who were warlords of Verona and Lake Garda, and who during their time prior to the Venetian conquest of the mainland ruled most of modern-day Veneto.

The economy of Lake Garda embraces wine production, fine cheeses and small artisan workshops as well as tourism. In the winter everything closes down. Best times to visit are during the spring and autumn months.

In the summer months, the climate of Lake Garda can be very hot and humid, and often these months the high pressure of southern air clashing with the colder mountain air can create thunderstorms on a regular basis.

Also, the roads around the Lake can be a bit overrun with motoring tourists rather like the Lake District in England. A good time to use the ferries.

The Dolomite Mountains in Italy are an all-year round magnet for activity seekers

a href=”http://globewanderer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/The-Dolomites.jpg”img class=”size-medium wp-image-73″ title=”The Dolomite Mountains, Italy” src=”http://globewanderer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/The-Dolomites-300×200.jpg” alt=”Dolomite Mountains” width=”300″ height=”200″ //a Italy’s Dolomite mountains

THE Dolomite mountains in Italy are in a class of their own – a fact recognised In August, 2009, when they  were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Whether they are covered in snow or not,, they are an all-year-round  magnet for the tourist and sportsman and there really is something there for everybody.

The Dolomites are like no other peaks in Europe. They rise in steep spires, chiseled by nature to form the most striking of mountains. Although part of Italy, they have a strong Tyrolean feel to them.

In the winter the region’s famous Val Gardena is a haven for skiers but in the spring in turns to an Alpine picture book and you half expect  to see the von Trapp family come singing over the hills.

The village of Selva, one of the three main villages in the Val Gardena, is the home of the unique Ladinos who are proud to tell you they speak a language shaped out ancient Latin features but decidedly all their own.

One of the surprises the Dolomites has in store for you is the via ferrata. A cable car whisks you to a height of around 2,400m and a guide ropes you in to a harness to take you rock climbing.

You are actually following in the footsteps of Sylvester Stallone in the area where filming was carried out for Cliffhanger.

Hanging from a cliff face can be easier than it looks with the help of an experienced guide and a small rope which clips on and off a steel cable as you make your way up a rock face to the top of a limestone tower.

A via ferrata – iron road – is a mountain route equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders, and bridges. The first via ferratas were built in the Dolomites during the First World War, to aid the movement of mountain infantry, and the Dolomites probably still has the greatest number.

If you get addicted to this activity, there are long distance trails which take at least a week.

The Dolomites’ rugged peaks, surrounded by picture postcard scenery,  create a paradise for climbers, walkers and cyclists and every June the area hosts the Sellaronda Bike Day – the one Sunday of the year when all passes around the Sella massif are closed to cars. Thousands of keen cyclists ascend the various routes.

The local cuisine is renowned for its subtle fusion of Italian and Austrian cooking.

The closest airports to Selva are: Innsbruck with a transfer  time to the resort of one hour and 30minutes; Verona, three hours; and Milan, also three hours away.

Useful websites are a href=”http://www.suedtirol.info” rel=”nofollow”www.suedtirol.info/a and Dolomiti Adventures at a href=”http://www.dolomiti-adventures.com/” rel=”nofollow”www.dolomiti-adventures.com//a