Finding more old churches in Valpolicella – 4/4/17

I cannot believe how great the weather has been. Only one rainy afternoon in Venice during the whole trip! Today we awaken to another beautiful day and head down to breakfast. The Grand Hotel Verona has a very nice spread with sweets, meats, breads, cereal, and eggs. I particularly like the hotdog-like breakfast sausage. We make our plan for the day and go and get our car which is showing low tire pressure in the right rear tire. This is the second time and we wonder if it has a slow leak. In any case we will have to find a service station and get the tire filled, always an adventure. I suggest we make the sound “pfft” and point at the tire. John and Sarah are interested in using way too many words!

Today we are going to the Valpolicella area northwest of Verona. Our travels will take us up to Lake Garda where I have promised at least partially a normal tourist day with lunch overlooking the lake and perhaps a little gelato.

Our first stop is at the Church of St. Florian in San Pietro in Ciriano. It is an early Christian church at least dating back to the 700’s. Interestingly some of its building blocks are obviously recycled Roman buildings. The Roman inscriptions and carvings are still on them.

Recycled Roman building materials

Unfortunately the inside has been mostly redone in a more 19th century style. The Stations of the Cross are definitely 20th or 21st century.  They have, to me, a very appealing modern vibe.

Modern Stations of the Cross

All the churches we want to see are in a straight path away from Verona along a 28Km vector to Lake Garda. In no time at all we are up atop a nearby hill to find the Church of San Giorgio. Once found, it is not easy to get into. There is a sign on the door telling us (in Italian) to go through a door in the cloister. After hunting around we finally find our way in. It is too bad that we have only two .50E coins to illuminate the church.

San Giorgio is of Romanesque architecture built in the 1100’s over previous religious houses. There are a few 11th century frescoes and column bases made from Roman altars.

Weird fresco of God expelling Adam and Eve. Adam has no hands coming out of his sleeves but a pair of hands further down his body.
Fresco in the apse of San Giorgio
This 11th century Last Supper is quite damaged, sadly

Now it’s time to be regular tourists! Well, almost regular, we do manage to find an old church while walking around. We stop at Lazise, a walled city, for lunch. The unusual crennelated walls date from 14th century but the town is much older, dating to at least the 800’s. It is situated on the eastern shore of Lake Garda.

The walled town of Lazise

Lake Garda is quite large and is looking sparkly and blue today. There are several swans swimming around.

Lake Garda
Swan on Lake Garda

We dine outside looking at the Lake at Trattoria Tropical.

John has pepata di cozze
Sarah orders Pizza Vulcano!
I have my old standby, spaghetti con vongole

We find an old church to look in on, the Church of San Nicolo. It’s from the 12th century and has frescoes!

White-bearded San Nicolo
Madonna and Child

After having the promised gelato we head back to the car and make one more church stop in Bardolino, about 5 km north along Lake Garda. San Severo is a 9th century church which must have been resplendent with frescoes but now they are quite faded and damaged.

Church of San Severo
Faded and damaged fresco in San Severo

It seems like we have done a lot today and I am tired but we are supposed to go to the Verona Cathedral on the way home. I am sulky and want to be dropped off at the hotel but I manage to mess up the navigating and it seems easier if we all go to the Cathedral instead.

Miraculously we find a parking space and go into the cathedral. It is pretty fancy but not in the way that I like. It has obviously gone through a style change at some point and looks 18th or 19th century-ish. Boo.

Interior of Verona Cathedral

The drive back to the hotel is exciting. John is driving in the zones where you are not allowed to drive. He is following a bus in the bus only lanes. We make it back to the hotel pretty quickly. We are taking wagers on how many tickets we will get this trip!

It seems like we’ve stopped getting dinners. We have big a lunch and then a snack or a sandwich for dinner. Sarah volunteers to go out and get sandwiches. She is gone a long time. I am getting fretful. Just as John is about to go out to look for her, she arrives back. She has been walking all over Verona trying to find the combination of sandwiches we wanted.

Tomorrow we make our way back to Milan airport for the trip home on Thursday. We still have one more exciting stop to make.

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