Verona’s Arena is Older Than the Colosseum – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , June 9th, 2018

Verona's Arena is Older Than the Colosseum - Keep Calm and Wander

Standing in all its grandeur, this Arena in Verona has been around in the city for well over 2000 years. I have been to the Colosseum in Rome and although it is larger, unlike Verona Arena, it does not hold immense history in its folds. That is fact no. 1.

When I was in Verona I could sense the pink stained marbles still vibrating with the more than 30,000 cries of jubilation as the gladiators slaughtered each other. This thing happens to me, a kind of a time warp where I, for few seconds, get lost in the very imagination of what a historic place would have been like in its full swing.

This arena has hosted thousands of gladiator carnages in the past and, supposedly, that happened for almost 400 years until the emperor Honorius banned the practice in 404 AD.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Verona Gay Travel Resources

The House of Romeo – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , February 21st, 2018

House of Romeo - Keep Calm and Wander

In Verona, after I visited Casa de Giuletta (Juliet’s House), I wasted no time but walked to the house of Romeo. It’s just 3 minutes walk to and from each other. However, it took me 15 minutes to finally figure it out because the street was so quiet. I expected a bit of a crowd but I saw no one. I walked back and forth the narrow street until I asked a fashionable, middle-aged Italian guy who was talking on his phone.

Me: Scusami
The Italian: Yes?
Me: Casa di Romeo?
The Italian: You’re in front of Romeo’s house.
Me: Hmmmm? This? (Pointing at the huge, arched black door)
The Italian: Si! Yes!
Me: Aw, grazie. (Embarrassed)
The Italian: Prego. Parli Italiano?
Me: No.
The Italian: You’re Italian is good.
Me: Those are the only words I know.
The Italian: (Smiling) Ok, ciao. Enjoy Verona.
Me: Thanks again.

I was disappointed when I saw it. This is the house? Really? I have so many questions. But, then, I reminded myself that Romeo is just a fictional character of one of Shakespeare’s plays. So, my brain shut up!

A Day in Verona – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , February 16th, 2018

Verona - Keep Calm and Wander

Verona lies in between Venice and Milan. So, if you’re in these two cities, it’s worth getting on the train and spend a day in Verona. Though most of us know Verona from Shakespeare’s tragic story of “Romeo and Juliet,” the city is more than its fame of the star-crossed lovers. A day in Verona won’t be enough, for sure, if you want to get to know the city more than what it is known for. However, a day is enough to have a glimpse of this peaceful, ancient city.

Travel Tip. Turn on your GPS or Google map for this self-guided walking tour. If you don’t have data on your phone, save the following places on your map so you can still use them even without the data.

As soon as you arrive at the train station, get a taxi that will take you to the bottom of the mountain / hill where the Piazzale Castel San Pietro is. Specifically tell the driver that you want to be dropped of at the bottom, across the riverside. From the base, climb the stairs and enjoy the views of Verona’s skyline as they reveal to you in every step you take. The views from the top is spectacular! You’re looking at a medieval city that seem to be untouched by modernity.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Verona Gay Travel Resources

Inside Juliet’s House in Verona – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 4th, 2017

Juliet's House - Verona - Keep Calm and Wander

The charming city of Verona is home to Shakespeare’s ill-fated lovers – Romeo and Juliet. Perhaps, the city’s most famous tourist attraction (or tourist trap) is Juliet’s House built in the Middle Ages.

Did Juliet Really Live Here? Nope, she didn’t. She’s just a fictional character from Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet.” If she doesn’t exist in real life – and so does Romeo.

So, why is this casa called Juliet’s House? According to history, the house was once owned by the Capello family whose surname sounds like Capulet, Juliet’s surname in the story. When the house was bought by the city – this tourist trap was created.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Veneto Gay Travel Resources

No Romeo at Juliet’s Balcony – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , September 30th, 2017

Juliet's Balcony - Keep Calm and Wander

Yes, that’s right – my Romeo didn’t show up at Juliet’s Balcony in Verona. He ditched me.

Perhaps, there’s only one reason why people visit Verona – to see Juliet’s Balcony or House. And of course, Romeo’s House, too! But, don’t get me wrong, Verona is beyond those two fictional characters.

Wait, Who’s Romeo and Juliet? Hmmmmnnn…. I reckon you skipped your high school English class that you don’t have an iota of idea who they are? You must have seen the movie of the same names, right? No? Okaaaayyyy…. Romeo and Juliet is a story of star-crossed lovers (guess who?) written by William Shakespeare. It ended in tragedy but ultimately reunite their two warring families. Sorry for the spoiler.

So, why it’s called Juliet’s Balcony? The house where the balcony is located was once owned by the Capello Family. In 1905, the city of Verona bought it from them. In the story, Juliet’s last name is Capulet which, for some people, sounds similar to Cappello. And then, people started to refer it as Juliet’s Balcony or Juliet’s House. Now, it has become a must-see tourist destination in Verona.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Gay Italy – From Verona to Milan

Author: , August 24th, 2016

Gay Italy

In my deluded mind, a trip to Milan was an opportunity to sip Negronis by a sun-baked pool, admiring the city’s style and hot, swaggering men. A relentless two-day rain storm changed that plan slightly.

An umbrella was firmly in the hand, rather than in the cocktails, but Italian talent was duly ogled and the Milanese remain admirably chic, even when it’s quite nippy and pouring it down.

We were in the city for the Quiiky Untold History tour. This wasn’t a guided peek into Donatella’s plastic surgeons or Berlusconi’s favourite escort agencies. This was a journey into an ancient past when alchemy, art, design and religion fused to made Italy a cultural ruler. But before delving into the mysteries and wonders of 15th-century art, we plunged into Milanese nightlife.

Lecco Milano is a hip, mixed bar offering food, DJs and a range of cocktails, including one tipple worryingly called GinHB. We also played bingo at L’Elephante while drinking a killer cocktail called the Bin Laden. I don’t remember how I got home.

By Stewart Who – Full Story at Gay Star News

Milan Gay Travel Resources

Dolly Travels: Verona

Author: , July 3rd, 2015

VeronaHi Everyone,

If you look at a map of Italy, you will see that Verona is about an hour’s train ride, west of Venice, on the way to Milano. Verona is also the crossroads of the north-south rail line. To get to the Alto Adige area, Sued Tirol, or the Dolomites, the route north goes from Verona. Verona has been an important crossroads since Roman times. The ancient colosseum, Arena, still holds many musical events, due to the great acoustics of the arena. The biggest draw here is the annual opera festival in the summer.

During Roman era, this arena was actually outside the city walls. Although I have been to Verona several times, this time I actually paid attention to how small the original city was. The main part of the city has the river, Adige, as its boundaries around the peninsula-like area. The ancient city was this small, few blocks long area that had the river on three sides, for protection from the enemies. The gate to the city, Porta Busari, is about 3 blocks north of the Arena. I am not a fast walker, but I covered the perimeter of the old city in 15 minutes, even stopping to look at things.

It is still a beautiful city, with the old Castel San Pietro sitting just across the river at the point of the peninsula. High on the hill a bit north, but above the Castel, is the Austrian fortress, built in the 19th century, as was the Austrian city hall that faces the main piazza, Piazza Bra.

This is the building that was the Austrian city hall. The statues in front are actually part of the stage set for the opera, “Aida”, which was to be performed on Saturday night, in the Arena

The little park in the piazza has a fountain that celebrates the link between Austria and Verona.

There’s a plaque that states that the fountain symbolizes the link between Verona and Salzburg, with the two cities separated by the Alps.

However, history lessons aside, my primary purpose for staying in Verona was to see the opera, “Nabucco”, an opera by Verdi that I had never seen. I love the one chorus number from that opera, “Va Pensiero”, or roughly, ” Go, Hebrew slaves.” This is a biblical account of the Hebrew children of God, being held captive by King Nebuchadnezzar.

The opera was scheduled to start at 9:00 p.m. Friday night, with the gates to open at 8:00. About 7:00, it started to rain. But we had to show up at the gates, anyway. After paying as much as I did for a ticket (not to mention the increased hotel rate), I was definitely going to be there.

We hardy souls stood in the rain, with our umbrellas, waiting for the gates to open. Finally, about 8:20, we were ushered into the Arena. Miraculously, the rain stopped within a few minutes of our getting into the Arena.

The opera did go on, without a hitch. The stage setting was quite simple; the costumes were in keeping with the poverty of the Hebrew slaves, while the costumes for the royalty and the royal soldiers were so beautiful without being gaudy. And the voices! The soprano, who played Abigaill, the king’s daughter, was amazingly wonderful. But for me, finally hearing the chorus sing, “Va Pensiero”, was the highlight. The voices of probably 100 Hebrew slaves, was spellbinding. Apparently, the rest of the audience felt the same, for when the number ended, there was absolute silence for about a second, then the crowd went wild with applause, and “Bravi”, so much that the conductor signaled to the orchestra, and the number was repeated. I have never, ever seen that happen before, but we all enjoyed it as much the second time as the first.

Finally, it was time to call it a night.

I was cold, so I went to a cafe across the street, had an Irish coffee, then returned to my room to get a few hours’ sleep, as I had to leave in the morning for the Dolomites.

The entire 2 days’ stay in Verona, was certainly worthwhile. I hope I get to return another time for an opera experience, although it will be hard to top the performance I saw Friday night.

I continued my journey to the Dolomites, where I am staying now. Here there is definitely the Austrian feeling, from the very good Tyrolean-style food, to amazing beer, and German the primary language.

Again, I am so happy that I have had the opportunity to travel, savor the feelings from different cultures, and I am building a lifetime of memories to enjoy when and if I ever get to old-age status.

Ciao for now,


By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Veneto Gay Travel Resources | Other Gay Travel Events

Dolly is in Verona

Author: , July 19th, 2014

Verona ConcertGood morning, everyone,

Yes, Susan and I are in Verona. On Tuesday, we flew from home to Rome, then caught a train and came directly to Verona. It made a very long day for us, but we slept well that night.

Yesterday was beautiful ..sunny, a bit humid. We took a bus up to Lake Garda, about an hour and a half ride from Verona. We had not been there before, so we wanted to see it. Garda is a beautiful town, with a lovely lakefront area. We walked along the lake, through a park, down to the beach. The lake itself was getting a bit choppy, so we did not go Into the water. We had lunch at a lakeside cafe, wandered some more through the shopping area, and returned to Verona.

We had tickets to see Placido Domingo in concert last night. After relaxing for awhile, got ourselves cleaned up, and went in search of dinner. We didn’t have to go far, as there are restaurants everywhere. We chose one that is actually in a wine shop. Pretty cool, and the food was good, very reasonably priced, so we will go there again tonight. Good fresh food, organic produce, wonderful mozzarella. A bottle of wine with dinner costs less than buying a bottle to take home.

The concert was held in the Arena, which is an ancient Roman amphitheater, similar to the Colosseum in Rome. The musicians and singers use no sound system or amplification, relying on the acoustics of the theater for the music to project. I was so thrilled to actually be able to hear and see this great performer. Yes! There he was, on stage, and that marvelous voice. Incredible.

The concert had started at 10:00 p.m. (Quite late for us, but typical for here.). About an hour into the performance, we started to see some lightning flashes in the distance. At 11:30, there was an intermission, and during that time, the lightning came closer and it started to rain. Th members of the orchestra picked up there instruments and left the stage. Many of the spectators bought rain ponchos, and stayed, hoping the show would go on. We left, as the rain was coming down harder.

We came back here, opened our door to our little patio, opened a bottle of wine, and enjoyed the light show for awhile. It did cool things off for a bit, so again we slept well. Today is sunny and beautiful again.

Today we are just going to stay in Verona, and check out some of the sights here. Tonight we are seeing the opera, “Carmen”, at the Arena. We will pray for no lightning and rain tonight.

We leave tomorrow morning for Montepulciano. We should get there about 1:00, get settled into our apartment, where we will live for the next four weeks. We start our Italian language classes on Monday. That should be interesting. I am so happy to be back in Italy, listening to the people speaking this beautiful language. I want to be able to converse in this language. I am finding that some of what I had learned at home is coming back to me. Hopefully, the classes in Montepulciano will reinforce and expand what I already have tucked somewhere in the recesses of this old brain.

The question has come up about where we are, geographically. So I am going to post a picture of a map here now. The red line is our first day, from Rome to Verona. The green line is where we are going tomorrow. Montepulciano. This hill town is southwest of Siena, still in Tuscany, but very close to Umbria. I believe the elevation there is about 5,000 feet above sea level. We are hoping there will be nice breezes.

Dolly's Travel

I will try to add lines as we go, so everyone can track us.

Today we walked through The old part of Verona, along the river. It is still pretty warm, but not as humid as yesterday. We are back at the B&B now, resting, then packing to leave in the morning..then shower, go to dinner and the Opera.

A view of the castle on the hillside and the Fiume Adige. Yes, the same river we saw in Bolzano when we were there on previous trips. You might also remember Alto Adige, as the area around the Dolomites, and a famous wine country. Ahhh..the Dolomites! Can’t wait to be there, but I have to wait until September.

So, I need to get busy. I will write more from Montepulciano.


By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Veneto Gay Travel Resources

Our Last Day in Venice and On To Verona

Author: , June 22nd, 2013

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on the go again, this time in Italy. She has graciously allowed us to republish her travel blogs. Enjoy!

Venice - BellaAs I said before, we are moving more now. We had 4 lovely days in Venice, in spite of the weather report telling us it was going to rain every day.

On our last day in Venice, some of us walked to the Jewish quarter and toured the synagogues and the museum with an English-speaking guide. It was very interesting, but our tour to one synagogue was cut short, as the President of Austria wanted a tour, so we got herded out in short order.

Later, we had another pizza lunch, and walked through different neighborhoods that were less touristy, before finding ourselves in Piazza San Marco once again. The crowds were really thick from that point on, as there was a huge Bienniale art show going on in the gardens near Arsenale. Plus the cruise ships were in, also. It was amazing to see the huge Carnival cruise ship being towed up the Grand Canal.

In late afternoon, the clouds were rolling in, and threatened to rain. But even the clouds are beautiful.

Our friends from our first trip, Jane and Marj, were also in Venice, so we all got together at our apartment for a tasty dinner of leftover pasta! It was fun, all of us being together and sharing travel adventures.

Yesterday we got to Verona, and while we were having lunch, the thunder and rain started and it rained bucketsful for about an hour. Finally it was nice enough to go for a walk through the old city. I was very disappointed with Piazza Erbe, which in the past had many booths selling handmade crafts. Now most of the booths were selling goods made in China. Very disheartening.

In the evening, the rain had stopped, and we went to dinner at Bottega Vini, where we had a great dinner. By the time we got back to our hotel, we were ready to settle down for the night.

We are now on the train headed north to Bolzano, gateway to the Dolomites. The sun is trying its best to come out, but the clouds around the mountains are very pretty. We are excited about getting up to the mountains, and visiting Bolzano today.

I will write more as we go along. Thank you for coming along with us.

Want to Follow Bella’s Latest Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels

Gay Friendly Costa Rica Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals in Veneto

Postcards From An Italian Adventure: Another Busy Week

Author: , August 25th, 2010

Postcards From An Italian Adventure:

Gay Friendly Tuscany Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. Enjoy!

Monday, August 16th

ViareggioToday is Friday already, and I realize that I have not posted anything since we christened the new Carli apartment a week ago. As usual here, there is always something going on.

Friday, I went with the Carli’s back to their home in Viareggio. The weather was gorgeous, so Saturday and Sunday was spent at the beach. I did take a long walk along the Promenade, until I came to a bridge over a small river/creek/canal, the separated Viareggio from Lido di Camiore. I reached the bridge just in time to watch a boat parade off the sea coast there.

ViareggioThe beaches along this part of the sea are accessed by private establishments, so if you want to lay on the beach, or use a chair and umbrella, you must pay for that privilege. Many of these places are large enough to have a swimming pool, as well as the requisite chairs, umbrellas, snack bar, dressing rooms, showers. Each place also his its own life guard. I like that!

But from the Promenade, one cannot see the sea… therefore, I accepted the Carli’s hospitality one more time, and spent most of Saturday and Sunday afternoons, lazing under an umbrella on the beach.

Viareggio Roof PartySunday night they hosted a dinner at their apartment, and we were able to dine outside on the rooftop terrace. What a lovely evening. Both of their sons were there, as well as Magda’s sisters, and other friends, some of whom I had met before, so I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Monday morning I took the train back to Florence, then Tuesday got on another train to Verona, as I had a ticket for the opera, “Aida”, to be performed in the Arena, the ancient Roman coliseum there. I was so excited about that. I arrived early enough that I had the entire afternoon and evening free to see Verona.

Palazzo Carli, VeronaAlthough I had just been there in June, it was fun to see some things again, yet find other things I had not seen before. I stumbled across a beautiful Palazzo, called Palazzo Carli (pictured at right). Hmmm! Is this going to be a new rental for the enterprises? If so, I will put my bid in for this right now!

That evening I had a nice quiet, light dinner at Osteria Le Vecete, where our group had enjoyed dinner in June. Then off to the Arena for the opera.


The Arena has great acoustics. The stage settings were marvelous, and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to see this wonderful opera in that setting. The weather stayed balmy; that had been a concern, as rain had been predicted for the evening, but it never happened. Such a fantastic experience. Then, like Cinderella, I had to leave the magic behind, and in the early morning, headed back to Florence. Of course, Florence has its own magic for me, so that was just fine.

Now I have prepared minestrone soup, the Genovese style soup, with no tomatoes, but pesto added. That should last the rest of the week.

Sunday is a National Holiday in Italy. I have not been able to find out the reason for the holiday, but nevertheless, there will be one. It is rather quiet in the neighborhoods now, anyway, as many of the businesses are closed for the month of August, or part of it, anyway. The San Ambrogio market only had about half the stalls that are usually there. My chicken market and the olive guy were all on holiday… but by September 1, all should be up and running again.

Even my hairdresser across the street is gone for the month, but I should not need a hair cut again for at least another few weeks. I went there 2 weeks ago and got a trim, but told him to leave the top of my hair alone, and he did. It is just now getting to a point where I can actually use a brush and hair dryer – this from the hair cut I got in June!!

So, now I will close. It is raining off and on today, so I am spending most of the day indoors, reading, catching up on things, making soup.

Ciao for now…


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