Road Trip Number 1: Salo - Gardone - Gargnano - Riva
On our third day in Sirmione we had to abandon the bikes and resort to car touring. We decided to travel up the western side of the lake. Our first stop was Desenzano where we had read about the market they have on Monday. There was a shop named Morgan.
We then stopped in Salo a small town along the lake with a pretty promenade. The clouds and rain made it a little uncomfortable but it was not cold so it was not bad.
We then went to the town of Gardone which is the home of the Vittoriale, a shrine to Italian victories. It was the home of Gabrielle D'Annunzio, a famous Italian write and poet. He was anti-fascist but popular in Italy so the Italian government gave him lots of money to upgrade the estate to keep him busy and out of politics.
There is a large amphitheater on the property where concerts are held.
I am in front of the advertisement for the series of events that will take place this summer. Morgan, a performer we heard about in 2004, is obviously still popular.
There are many fountains and pathways on the property.
The most distinctive feature of the property is the Italian cruiser Puglia, mounted on the side of the hill overlooking the lake.
There is also a torpedo boat that D'Annunzio was stationed on during WWI that is located on the property in a small museum.
The last town at the very northern part of the lake was Riva. This was our last stop before turning around. It has a small harbor.
It also had a reptile museum.
The designer of this sign did not plan well.
Road Trip Number 2: Verona
Another not so nice day so we opted again for a car trip. This time we drove to Verona about 1 hour from Sirmione. Verona is one of the larger cities in northern Italy with a population of over ¼ million people. It is famous for the Arena, a large Roman amphitheater from the year 30 and the third largest in Italy.
While we were there they were moving large pieces over the wall with a large crane and onto the stage for this summer's production of Aiida and its Egyptian theme.
We went into the Arena and explored the underside and its tunnels.
There were some nice views of the surrounding plaza from the Arena.
Verona had many plazas and fountains.
The Piazza delle Erbe, Verona's main square, was once the site of the Roman Forum. The buildings that surround it today are medieval.
Three of Shakespeare's plays were set in Verona including Romeo and Juliet. The famous balcony at Juliet's house was actually an Etruscan sarcophagus.
Outside in the courtyard was a brass statue of Juliet that was rubbed clean at the breast where everyone was touching it.
There was one wall where many couples had fastened locks just like they do on the bridge over the Tiber River in Rome.
We visited a synagogue in Verona. It was closed and had a sign up for tours that you had to call for. The sign indicated the hours for Sabbath services so it is an active synagogue. The synagogue was built in 1864. This was the area of the Jewish ghetto of Verona. There were Italian soldiers at the end of the block. You can usually tell where the synagogue is by the soldiers.
The Adige River passes through Verona. It is the second longest river in Italy but many people do not know its name. It flows all the way to the Adriatic Sea.
We crossed the river to go to the 1st century BCE Roman Theater but it was closed for renovation. This is not to be confused with the arena.
Verona was once circled by walls built by the Roman Emperor Gallieno in the third century, and there are still pieces of Gallieno's walls that you can see today.
The Ponte di Pietra (“Stone Bridge”) is a Roman bridge that crosses the Adige River in the middle of Verona. It was built in 100 BCE., although much of the bridge was destroyed by the German military during World War II. The arches were rebuilt in 1957 using original stones recovered from the river.
The Arco dei Gavi is a triumphal arch that was built in the first century A.D., and it once had the city's main road running through it. In medieval times, the arch was incorporated into the city walls as a city gate. It was destroyed by Napoleon's army in 1805, and rebuilt in 1932 near its original location.
We toured the Castelvecchio (old castle) located on the river. It was built by the same family that built fortifications all around Lake Garda. The castle was built in the mid 14th century.
There were several statues of the castle owner on horses ready to go into battle.
Near the Arena there was a holocaust memorial.
Road Trip Number 3: Sabbionetta - Mantua
The Queen had read an article about ten undiscovered small towns in Italy. We were close to one - Sabioneta. We decided to make another road trip and see it and Mantua, another city close by. Both were made World Heritage Sites in 2008. Sabioneta was a small independent state and was built as a hexagonal fortress surrounded by walls in the middle of a large agricultural area.
When we drove into the city it appeared to be pretty much abandoned - with very few people walking around and few cars in site. There are 4000 people who live here but you would not know it. There was an Information building and we went in there to learn that there were five sites open in the city and for 12 Euros we could visit them.
One of the five sites was a synagogue. The Duke who controlled the town let Jews live there and in 1820 the Jewish population reached 200. The torah was kept in the building until 1970 and is now in Jerusalem. The photo shows a group of Italian school kids waiting to tour the synagogue.
This is the inside of the synagogue. This room is actually located on the top floor since no floor can be above the synagogue.
One other city site was an indoor theater built in the 16th century.
The seating was arranged like a Roman theater.
This is the Duke's palace and was open but under renovation.
This bike rack was part of an art exhibit.
That is the Duke on the horse closest to the Queen.
This fresco in one of the rooms is from an interesting perspective. You are looking up the horses and guy's but and can see his plumbing.
The streets of the town were very narrow.
From there we went to Mantua which was a much larger city. It is known as one of the cultural, artistic and musical hubs of northern Italy. It is the city where Romeo was banished. It is surrounded by three artificial lakes built in the 12th century.
One of the many towers in the city.
We discovered the ghetto area. At one time there were 3000 Jews in Mantua and supported 6 synagogues. This is the only one left and there was no sign that there were any services. You had to call a number in advance to get into the synagogue. It was built in 1702.
We passed a series of canals in the city.
The main church in the city, Basilica San't Andrea, has some of the blood that was on Jesus' when he was crucified. The soldier who pierced him gathered some earth where the blood spilled and brought it back to Mantua. The only time the blood is seen is when it is paraded through town on Good Friday evening.
The round church is the Rotundo di San Lorenzo which is the oldest church in the city.
The Queen is walking in Piazza Sordello.
Road Trip Number 4: Home to Rome
We were using waze to get around on this trip and this is a screen shot of the traffic delay of 54 minutes due to a major accident ahead of us.
Everyone got out of their cars and started playing soccer and other things to wait for traffic to go.
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