Verona/Venice
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Verona, like Pisa, has a single claim to fame, unless, you are impressed by the fact that a 13th Century Pope is buried there.  Today, we remember the city as the setting for Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet.'   That and the fact that Verona has one of the few surviving Roman amphitheaters still in use.  The structure dates from the First Century AD.  Today, operas and other performances are held in this imposing building.  Verona is also impressive for its architecture.   Much of the city dates back many hundreds of years.

Here are some pictures.  The first image is from a postcard. Note the ancient drawings on the buildings in the 4th and 5th photos. 

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Here are a few scenes at local markets.

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Ancient Roman ruins.  The foundations for columns of some structure.

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And last, but not least, "that balcony."

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We had one more stop to make before arriving in Venice.  We spent a short time in Padua, where we visited the multi-domed Basilica of St. Anthony, where relics of the saint's body are interred.  The relics are housed in the middle gold-framed section in the last photo below. The church, built around 1300 AD, has one of the nicest interiors I have ever seen.

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At last - Venice, one of my favorite places on this earth.  When I last saw this city, 25 years ago, I vowed to return one day.  I can't explain the attraction - its very real, though.  Venice was settled following the fall of Rome in the 5th Century.  To escape the invaders who subsequently swarmed into Italy, the inhabitants of the area moved out onto islands some distance from the mainland.  Over the centuries, they built a city, the buildings being constructed on platforms over wooden piles that were sunk into the lagoon.  Sadly, Venice is slowly sinking, at the rate of several inches every century.  While I was there, high tide covered much of the dock area, and water rose into St. Mark's Square and into the cathedral.   The Venetians take this in stride.  Several times each day, the lagoon is flushed by fresh water from the Adriatic sea.

Venice is a city of wondrous art and architecture.  The buildings show a distinct oriental influence, due to  the fact that early trade was primarily with Turkey.   It is famous today for its handmade glass.  Yes, another shopping spree took place here. The city is built on 118 islands in the lagoon, crisscrossed by 150 canals and 400 bridges.  There is no vehicular traffic.  You either walk, or take a water taxi or water bus, called a "vaporetto."  Romantics and tourists ride in the gondolas.  I took the vaporetto from the square back to our hotel, the Carlton Executive, since I got hopelessly lost in the maze of narrow streets.

On one such street, I encountered several characters who stood out from the crowd.  These were teen males.  One's hair was bright orange on top, while his buddy had purple-streaked hair.  An Italian lady told me she spoke to them, and discovered they were from Bosnia.  

Continue to pictures of Venice.