Ah, fair Verona


Our innkeeper in Venice thought we were going to be disappointed in Verona and should stay an extra day in Venice. He’s one of those really passionate Venetians who can’t imagine why anyone would want to go anywhere else. (Sounds like some of my New Orleans friends)

And when we first arrived in Verona, we thought, well perhaps he was right. All the same we ventured forth on a single day’s visit to the town of Shakespeare’s Juliette.  We first tackled the Arena, a roman-era coliseum that is now used for festival concerts and summer opera. Charlie was troubled by how they overlaid new seating and stages so that they could do performances. He’s such a purist. “There’s a reason why they call them ruins!”  He would echo that at the old roman theater the next day.

As an aside, it turns out that Juliette’s house is a fraud.  That is, no one really knows if the house that is proffered to be her house is in fact her house.  What is clear is that the owners have promulgated this fraud for many years, and only the locals really know the truth.

When we returned to the hotel, we decided that it would be better to take the bicycles that were freely available from the hotel. And that did the trick.  Verona is a great bike town. Yes, the streets are a bit busy, but it’s easy to get around, hard to get truly lost, and you can move around the old city quickly. The following day, we saw two churches, the old bridge, roman ruins (toured the museum), all before a delightful lunch overlooking the river that crescents around the city. We still had plenty of time to leisurely ride back and pick up a cab to the train station for our trip to one of my most favorite cities, Florence.

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Early to rise


One thing we have discovered on our trip to Italy is that you need to get up and out early if you want to see the big attractions with as little fuss as possible.

In Florence, an early start got us quick reservations for the Accademia, which allowed us to also squeeze in the Duomo, Uffizi and a relaxing lunch. In Rome, we first arrived at the Colosseo at noon only to wait in 34C temps for an hour and give up because of the crowds. The next morning we got there at 8:30 and almost walked right in, and it was only 27C.

Tomorrow, Pompeii? We’ll see.

Two nights in Venice


After much anticipation, we have started our vacation in Italy. First stop, Venezia. It was hot and humid, but not as hot and humid as south Louisiana. But it seemed hotter because we walked almost everywhere.

We stayed in a quiet area, Corto de L’Alboro, just steps from the grand canal, and a few more steps to S. Stefano, and the Accademia. At every turn, there was a photo op. Kathy became enamored with the doors and especially the door handles.

I’ll write later about a great concert that My daughter and I attended. Suffice it to say that it is a unique experience hearing Vivaldi played in Venice.

One of the highlights (and I’m serious here) was an evening gondola ride through the area surrounding Accademia. We started at the foot of the Accademia bridge and circled through the small quiet canals.

We floated, literally and figuratively, through these back alleys, lilting ourselves into a dreamy state of timelessness. Our guide was congenial and informative. But he was also respectful of the silent mystery that is Venice.

Waxing poetically, perhaps. But this was a wonderful experience that will not be forgotten.

Judge Topples U.S. Rejection of Gay Unions – NYTimes.com


Conservatives have used the argument of “states rights” to try and combat all kinds of top-down Washington imposed laws.  The Civil Rights Act, Clean Air/Water Act, Health Care Reform; all of these have been challenged or are still being challenged on the notion that the federal government can’t dictate to individual states laws that address issues not specifically identified in the constitution as federal concerns. STATES RIGHTS! 10th Amendment. That is the chant.

Well, conservatives should remember to be careful what they wish for.  A federal judge in Boston overturned the Defense of Marriage Act precisely because it infringed on… States Rights!

“This court has determined that it is clearly within the authority of the commonwealth to recognize same-sex marriages among its residents, and to afford those individuals in same-sex marriages any benefits, rights and privileges to which they are entitled by virtue of their marital status,” Judge Tauro wrote in the case brought by Ms. Coakley. “The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state.”

So if states, like Massachusetts want to validate same-sex marriages, the feds can’t stop them.  A simple case of states rights.  Ah, the irony.

Judge Topples U.S. Rejection of Gay Unions – NYTimes.com