Monday, 15 August 2016

5th August - Saltria to Verona, Italy, and the Holiday Wrap Up.

Well the forecast storm for today duly arrived, the tables safely stacked away on the terrace in preparation for the change in weather was not in vain.

As we had breakfast the witches on top of the pine trees at the back of the hotel were whizzing about in a ferocious wind.  We packed our bags after breakfast in preparation for a long day our plan had been to spend the time once we arrived inVerona in the city as our flight was not until 22.00 that evening, but if this weather was the same in Verona it would be very difficult to know what to do.

The taxi arrived just before 10.00 and our journey began, winding around the mountain roads back to Compatsch, and then down the slopes into the mist and cloud to Kastelruth and then onto Bolzano.  We passed many of the towns and villages we had walked through but they looked so different in the rain and mist.  

At Bolzano we boarded our train to Verona.  Unlike the journey here two weeks agao, the train was starting from Bolzano so we had time to get a seat and get the bacgs stowed easily.

It was just over two hours to Verona, the train stopping at many local stations.  The weather though was not behaving, after easing around Trentino, it came back with a vengance as we approached Verona, and as we got off the train, I can't recall seeing rain like it.  The heavens had literally opened.

We decided to wait it out and stopped for a drink in a cafe.  But unlike the journey two weeks ago the station was packed.  We decided to put our bags into the left luggage, and then attempt to get into Verona.  There were signs the rain was easing and blue skies were on the way.

There was a large queue for the taxis, and we waited, finally getting one as the rain eased and we headed into the city, being dropped off at the Arena.

The rain had stopped and the sun was coming out.  We had been here a few years ago so we set off down the main retail street in the direction of Piazza Erbe.

The last time we came here the rains came, but now we were lucky as we had blue skies.

We found a restaurant where we were able to get a good meal and drink, we had to pace ourselves for the long night ahead.

After the meal we wandered the streets taking in the lovely alley ways and colourful buildings so typical of Italian cities.

Open windows, feathery plants and frescos.

Buildings painted in earth colours.

And a mixture of culture and style, these windows portraying classic movie scenes.

But you are never far from a church tower.

It is the Arena that Verona is famous for.  It is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind.  The building itself was built in AD 30 on a site which was then beyond the city walls. The shows and games staged there were so famous that spectators came from many other places.  Today the arena is used for open air opera and other major concerts.

the wonderful arches are fully intact.

The round façades of the building were originally composed of white and pink limestone from Valpolicella but after a major earthquake in 1117 that stone was used for other buildings and the arena built using local limestone

As you walked around there were many props and scenery from the shows that were being performed.

An array of weapons.

It was time for an ice cream, and a walk back to the railway station to pick up the bags.  The railway station was a lot quieter than when we left, just one dog waiting in the taxi queue.

It was then a short bus ride to the airport where we sat and waited to check in for our flight home.  Plenty of time then to reflect on what had been a wonderful holiday.

In order of visiting the hotels and our thoughts;

Gasthof Zimmerhof, Radein
A wonderful start to the holiday, a lovely hotel in a wonderful location with stunning views. The room was nice and big with a lovely balcony.  The food was excellent, although the packed lunch could have benefited from some of the detail.  The staff were very attentive, but not intrusive and the waitress Susanne was excellent.  You felt welcome, and not just because you were a paying guest.

Gasthof Krone, Aldein
Set in the middle of the village and next to the church the hotel will never be forgotten due to the proximity to the church and the constant bells throughout the night.  The hotel was small, the rooms small too.  The food was good, but lacked that special touch.  The waitress was very nice, but overall the hotel had the feel that something was not well.  We were happy we only had one night here

Hotel Kohlern, Kohlern
Again a wonderful location overlooking the valley and Bolzano.  The room was nice and big with access to the views.  The hotel was quite busy, and it was difficult not to be thought of as second rate.  having a superior room would have been considered qualifying for maybe good restaurant and terrace seats, but on the two nights we were there we were rlegated to seats at the back, away from the view.  The food was good,a nd the wine list extensive, it was shame we felt out of place.

Hotel Cavallino d'Oro, Kastelruth
This was only Bed and Breakfast board and it was nice to be able to go out and find your own restaurant, although the hotel helped.  The staff were excellent prepared to help out and give advice.  The breakfast very nice, again with attentive staff.  The room was lovely, with a good balcony and great views.

Hotel Plaza, Compatsch
When we arrived it felt like the place wasn't open, and the hotel pretty much stayed like that outside of breakfast and dinner time.  There was a bar but it remained pretty much in the dark.  The room was compact, unfortunately when we were there the weather was bad, and staying inside gave you cabin fever, it was small.  The food was much in keeping with most of the trip away from that served in the Zimmerhof

Floralpina, Saltria
A large hotel, with many guests but you would never know it.  The room we had was superb, a double balcony and lovely view.  All the fittings were brand new, and kept in immaculate condition.  The food was very good, same style menu, but not too much and good quality.  The staff again attentive and not intrusive.  This came as very welcome at the end of the holiday, our number two for the trip just pipped by the Zimmerhof

Finally some tips on the guide notes.  The notes provide abbreviations with an explanation of what they mean.  What I wanted to do was to just provide light hearted definitions of some of the phrases used in the guide notes

"Carry on SA (straight ahead)" - It is probably uphill!

"which descends, then rises steeply" - It rises much more than it descended and is very steep!

"Continue uphill" - continue uphill very steeply for some distance!

"As it rises and bears round" - it rises steeply!

"Follow this quiet road" - It was when the notes were made, beware in August they are busy!

"Take a rocky path" - It will probably involve scrambling over rocks

"Leave the canyon floor here" - proceed on a series of many steps all going steeply uphill

"sticking to the forest contour" - it goes steeply uphill

"leading up to the magnificent church" - rises very steeply to the magnificent church.

jesting aside once again it was a wonderful holiday, superbly selected, supported and managed by Inntravel.  We were able to experience some wonderful scenery and to find and see the fauna and flora of the area.  

For the record our count of butterflies reached 51, the list as follows

Scarce Swallowtail
Black-veined White
Large White
Small White
Mountain Green-veined White
Mountain Clouded Yellow
Clouded Yellow
Wood White
Small Copper
Holly Blue
Alpine Blue
Marzine Blue
Escher's Blue
Turquoise Blue
Chalk-hill Blue
Adonis Blue
Common Blue
White Admiral
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
Small Tortoiseshell
Silver-washed Fritillary
Dark-green Fritillary
Lesser Marbled Fritillary
Mountain Fritillary
Titania's Fritillary
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Weaver's Fritillary
Marbled White
Arran Brown
Large Ringlet
Yellow-spotted Ringlet
Mountain Ringlet
Scotch Argus
Woodland Ringlet
Silky Ringlet
Piedmont Ringlet
Meadow Brown
Small Heath
Alpine Heath
Speckled Wood
Large Wall Brown
Northern Wall Brown
Grizzled Skipper
Large Grizzled Skipper
Olive Skipper
Small Skipper
Large Skipper

The birds were much fewer than normal, but it was really the wrong time of year, plus difficult to find them in the thick pine forests, and while you are looking at the ground for butterflies.  There were some notable finds though, Honey Buzzard and Red-backed Shrike

Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon
Pallid Swift
Alpine Swift
Green Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Red-backed Shrike
Alpine Chough
Carrion Crow
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Coal Tit
Crag Martin
House Martin
Sardinian Warbler
Ring Ouzel
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Black Redstart
House Sparrow
Grey Wagtail
Pied Wagtail
Meadow Pipit
Mealy Redpoll
Common Crossbill

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