Fair Verona

IMG_0325Before I knew it, my time in Germany was over. It had some highs and lows, and I was ready to be in a place that was familiar. Germany and I never meshed in the week that I spent there; perhaps this was because it came on the heels of Denmark where I felt instantly comfortable or maybe I just wasn’t hitting the right spots. I really think the next time I do Germany, I need to do it with someone else who knows it, loves it, and can introduce me what it has to offer.

I was ready for Italy. My first stop of my Italian tour was the fair city of Verona, of Shakespearean fame (for most…it has many other, more remarkable things to be famous for says this ancient art historian). The train ride was long, but beautiful. Through southwestern Germany, Austria and northern Italy we went, winding our way through mountains, finally arriving in Fair Verona.

DSC04177Verona was immediately from the outset, entirely charming. I lucked out with a very nicely located and appointed Airbnb. I did my usually settling in and took my first nighttime walk around Verona. I ate and I grocery shopped, at an Aldi, and came back to plan my one full day in Verona.

Verona has a lot of well-preserved Roman remains, of which I was only able to scratch the surface. I started my day with my traditional Italian breakfast of a cornetto con crema and a cappuccino, then walked to my first destination, the Porta Leone, which was really difficult to photograph, but super fascinating.

A defensive gate dating to around the 1st or 2nd century CE, the Gate of the Lions was incorporated into other buildings as time progressed, preserving basically one side of its facade.  One of my favorite things about Europe is the manner in which archaeological remains have been integrated (even sometimes when done badly or even just haphazardly) with the modern city.

After drinking my fill of the Porta Leone, I walked down one of the main (touristy) drags of the town, ate lunch, bought market fragola, which were the best freaking strawberries I’ve ever eaten. It was such a gorgeous day, the right amount of sun and shade, bustling, but not overcrowded. After some disappointments in Germany, Fair Verona was living up to her name.

I continued to walk around Verona, taking in parts of the city that I knew relatively IMG_0319nothing about. I did some people watching, square sitting, church wandering, and tomb inspecting, as one does. A few churches that I wanted to inspect were closed, but I persisted. I walked by the so-called Houses of Juliet and Romeo; Juliet’s house was overran by tourists, Romeo’s entirely ignored.

I finally drew closer to the reason for my visit in Verona. The Arch of the Gavii. The arch is a curious one–an early quadrifrons monument with no extant sculpture. I did my scholarly thing, inciting the interest of a bunch of Veronese teens that were completely baffled by my interest in the structure that provided a spot for their post-school shenanigans. As an art historian, one who grew up in the relatively uninspiring world dominated by 1980s and 1990s strip malls, it’s always crazy to me to think of growing up amongst centuries after centuries of STUFF built by a city’s previous inhabitants. I was lucky enough to grow up in a state where there certainly is plenty of history, but it very much exists in a separate space from that of daily life, “preserved” for posterity by local, state, and federal municipalities.

IMG_0370 Anyway, a tangent of an American abroad that’s constantly in shock of the material culture of places that aren’t home. I finished my scholarly perusal, visited a few other places that was on the ‘dissertation’ list, then went back to

IMG_0383my airbnb for a siesta. After my nap, I went to dinner, eating in the shadow of Verona’s famous amphitheater, which is so much smaller, but, in my opinion, no less impressive than Flavian amphitheater in Rome. Every summer, Verona’s amphitheater plays host to an incredible opera festival, and I missed performances by just one day. Just think,  I could have seen Puccini in an amphitheater. As was becoming my habit on this Eurotrip, just as I was settling in, it was time to turn my attention to the next city. Next on the stop on the tour was also the first longer stay, and my long awaited return to my darling Roma! 

Copenhagen

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I loved Copenhagen. I instantly felt comfortable there and I can’t entirely tell you why. I think there are two possibilities. One, I’m getting super comfortable with travel and I know what to do in new places. Two, Copenhagen is a magical beautiful place full of charm, Danes that speak English better than I do, and a city that’s so easy to navigate. It is probably a bit of both, because the second bit is definitely true. I liked Copenhagen a lot–and will gladly go back in the future. I only had three nights and two days, not very much time to see Copenhagen. I managed to do a lot!

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My main reason for visiting was to see the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek–one of the premiere collections of Greco-Roman sculpture in Europe. It also has a large collection of French and Danish painting from the 19th and 20th centuries. I was there before it opened, ready to go and get Eurotrip 2018 started. It was a great collection, in spite of it being 900 degrees in the galleries with skylights (all of them), I had a great time and it was amazing to be able to see some of these portraits, many of which are the best of their type.

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After the museum, I decided to wander. I wandered to Christiansborg Slot, the current Parliament house. On a complete whim, I decided to do a canal cruise–just go full-blown tourist. I’m glad I did–since I was only there for a brief time, I got to see a good portion of the city that I wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise, plus some really super views and photo ops. After the boat trip, I grabbed some food, and walked around the rest of the city. I tried to visit all three of the churches I wanted to, but the each closed super early and I had been happily boat-touring. Copenhagen is such an easy to navigate city, completely flat, easily laid out. I walked for a while just checking it all out. That night, I had dinner at a restaurant that exuded hygge and the server was so nice and congenial.

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The next day I wanted to go to their National Gallery, Rosenborg Slot, and Tovhallerne; they were all grouped together. The National Gallery was relatively small, with a lot of Danish/Nordic works, and a strong collection of French 19th and 20th century painting. I was super bummed because the European Art from 1300-1800 collection was closed–what can I say, I prefer the older the better!
After finishing up at the National Gallery, I popped over to the Konigs Have (King’s Garden)–the public gardens that surround the Rosenborg Slot or castle. The castle was built by Christian the IV, Denmark’s 17th-century absolute monarch. Now, the castle is primarily a museum that houses the Royal Treasury, including the crown jewels. I almost didn’t go inside–largely because Copenhagen is such a pricey city and I felt like I was bleeding money, but I’m glad I did. It was well worth it. It was a beautiful day to enjoy the gardens too– it had been forecast to rain and thunderstorm, but as you can see from the pics, it was a glorious day.

I then headed to Tovhallerne, a open air produce market and like food hall. It was super crowded and busy (I realized later that this was a very busy weekend to be traveling because all of Europe is on holiday) and it was mildly overwhelming. I kind of wish there had been smaller bites to purchase instead of just full-blown meals (maybe there was, I just didn’t see them) b/c there was a lot I wanted to try, but didn’t want to commit to for an entire meal. I eventually settled on some Vietnamese meatballs with a baguette. Yum! I then walked back to my hostel, taking the scenic route through Olmsted Park, a happy and gorgeous chance.

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That wraps up my time in Copenhagen. Early the next morning, I headed out to Berlin!

 

Site Archeologique de Glanum (St. Rémy de Provence)

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Glanum, and Saint Rémy, remains the most beautiful place I think I’ve ever been. There were a few monuments I wanted to see, largely the monuments belonging to the Julii family from the late Republic and early Empire.

I was not expecting to be so overcome with the beauty of the archaeological site. Provence was on full spring display–trees were in bloom, the sun was out– so much so I had to visit the pharmacy afterwards and get some medicine for my sunburn.

 

I wandered the site for a while, almost in a state of complete awe. It was just too beautiful. Continuously occupied since pre-Roman times, the site was abandoned at some point in the third or fourth century. I quickly learned why escargot became a French delicacy…snails were literally everywhere. At one point, it was unavoidable to actually step on them.

IMG_1817It was here at this site that I was just overcome by the combination of all of my favorite things. I was in France! There were arches! It was beautiful outside! There was an archaeological kitty that followed me around! I named her Octavia (the site had two portraits, one of Octavia and one of Livia. Since there’s already a cat important to me named Livia, this one was Octavia. Super friendly and attention seeking.

Just look how beautiful!

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