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Sunday, July 15
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We wanted to sample some of the local cuisine before heading to the opera. We hummed and hawwed a little about what type of restaurant to try: something on a busy street, or some quiet back-alley. In the end, I dug out a printout I had made of good restaurants in Verona, and we settled on a little Osteria a little ways away from the town center. Off we went on the long walk to get there, passing over the river Adige, a large river which is fed from the southern Alps and which passes through Verona on its way to the Po river and, ultimately, the Adriatic Sea at Venice.
courtesy PChen
courtesy PChen
The River Adige
Osteria la Stueta
The osteria is closed
The little Osteria, literally a small hole-in-the wall on a nondescript street, was scheduled to open at 7pm, and we arrived a few minutes early. We sat, leaning against a sharp, stuccoed wall, waiting for the restaurant to open. Which... it didn't. How very Italian....

Mindful of the time, at 7:10pm we decided we'd better start back towards the ampthitheatre, and find a restaurant along the way. The opera started at sundown and people trickle in for several hours before, and we didn't want to get bad seats (our tickets were for an area that doesn't specifically assign seat numbers).

We found a nice restaurant along the way back, called 'La Taverna di via Stella' (which was, not surprisingly, situated on via Stella). It served many of the traditional dishes of the area, including many with horsemeat. I opted for a simple penne arrabiata, which was quite delicious.
courtesy PChen
A bar and trattoria
Amphitheatre in the distance.
Taking our place
We arrived at the amphiteatre shortly thereafter, and we ushered into the 'gradinata settore F' area. High up on the right side of the amphiteatre, we found a free spot on the 2000-year old rough-hewn limestone seats. Hot seats they were, too: even though it was now late evening and the air temperature was fairly cool, the massive limestone of the amphitheatre was just finishing its absorption of a full day of hot sun, and the rock was now radiating that heat into our butts!
Opera-goers
A bit of fine-tuning
Waiting for sundown
Tonight's opera was Aida - a famous work by Giuseppe Verdi. Being egyptian-themed, the set pieces included various stone obelisks, monuments, and pharoah sarcophagi. In continuation of an old tradition, opera attendees (i.e. us) were each given a single small candle, which we were to light around the time of the start of the opera.
Brushing up on Aida
The crowd waits
Filling up...
The lighting crew await
A roman tradition
Aida begins
Right on schedule, at 9:15pm, the opera started, and at the same time a sea of tiny candlelights appeared all around the stadium. No microphones or amplification is used at these operas, and so it was quite amazing to hear how well the actors were able to project their voices, and how good the acoustics were in the theatre. It was quite a spectacle to see the show, the lights, the people, and all of it wrapped in the air of antiquity provided by the ancient amphitheatre.
The Facade at sunset
Elegant choreography
Pyramid in the sky
courtesy PChen
Intermission
Preparing for the wedding
Facsimiles of pachyderms
courtesy PChen
Big cast
The wedding scene
The wedding scene
Shortly after midnight, the entombing of Radames and Aida marked the closing chapter of the opera. Culturally and Culinarily satiated, we drove the one hour drive back to our apartment in Riva del Garda. On the next day's agenda: our first via ferrata!
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