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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.

England’s northernmost county of Northumberland is a peaceful haven with a memorable past.

a href=”http://globewanderer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Northumberland-Cheviot-Hills-a-walkers-paradise-640-x-479.jpg”img class=”size-full wp-image-484″ title=”Northumberland Cheviot Hills – a walker’s paradise (640 x 479)” src=”http://globewanderer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Northumberland-Cheviot-Hills-a-walkers-paradise-640-x-479.jpg” alt=”Northumberland Cheviot Hills” width=”640″ height=”479″ //a Northumberland’s Cheviot Hills – a walker’s paradise
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h2span style=”font-size: 13px;”On a fine day in north Northumberland you can find nothing but cornfields and peaceful quiet around the tiny village of Branxton. It’s hard to imagine you are standing at a spot where thousands were buried after one of the bloodiest battles ever fought./span/h2
In the space of a few hours on a miserable day in 1513, the Battle of Flodden Field left for dead an estimated 4,000 Englishmen and 10,000 Scots, including their king and many nobles.

But quiet, thinly populated Northumberland is full of surprises like this. You could say it has earned its right to a peaceful life.

It has castles galore as its countryside was a prize asset for the Scots and the English. Two of the best to visit are at Alnwick and Bamburgh, the latter restored by Victorian industrialist Lord Armstrong.

The fortifications of the  town of Berwick – built during the 16supth/sup century reign of Queen Elizabeth l after it changed hands an estimated 13 times between the English and Scots – are so massive you can spend an afternoon walking around them as the famous painter L.S. Lowry often did

Ruined Warkworth Castle on the county’s east coast was the setting for three of the scenes in Shakespeare’s Henry the Fourth part one and one of the county’s famous sons, Harry Hotspur, killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403, earned a place in the play.

And the border hostilities go back even further hence the county’s famous Roman Wall stretching through it and across to Cumbria.

But enough of those warrior days, Northumberland is now a county which is a massive draw for people wanting to enjoy its wonderful  open spaces.
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Walkers head for Wooler, the town known as the gateway to the beautiful Cheviot Hills and its breathtaking rolling moors and grasslands, ancient hillforts and pure rivers. A favourite climb is the Cheviot,the highest hill in the range at 2,674 ft

Pilgrims still cross the causeway to visit Holy Island where St Aidan founded his monastery in 635AD.

Hadrian’s Wall and the Northumberland National Park straddle the county to form another big draw.

Kielder Forest is famed for having the darkest night skies in England thanks to minimal light pollution.

The forest and its observatory wants to join an exclusive worldwide club by creating what would be the third largest area of protected starry dark sky in the world in deepest Northumberland.

Only 12 such preserves exist, including the two largest in Big Bend National Park, Texas, and Mount Megantic in Quebec, Canada.

Northumberland  is also a place to spot the rare red squirrel.  The Northumberland Wildlife Trust is behind a project to help protect the species, under threat from the grey squirrel.

It’s a great county to tour by road but drivers and bikers should take care when using the A1, the main highway on the east coast between England and Scotland.

The stretch between Brownieside and Berwick is a national disgrace with Government leaders in the south turning their backs on the needs of the north.

The combination of slow moving farm vehicles, lorries obliged to observe a 40mph speed limit, and motorists wanting to travel at 60mph and more on single carriageway road can be stressful for the sensible road user, to say the least.

If you are in Northumberland you should visit the city of Newcastle which offers its very own contrasting mix of industrial and architectural heritage plus a really lively social scene.

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