University of Wisconsin–Madison

A Weekend of Mishaps Made Perfect

A few weekends ago I took a trip with two friends, Michael and Paola, to the lovely city of Verona. We planned the trip two days before we left and had no concrete plans as to what we wanted to do or see. For these reasons we had quite the “series of unfortunate events,” but amidst these multiple mishaps the trip turned out to be an amazing experience. To lay this story out clearly I’ll start from the moment we began our travels.

Michael’s first time on Italian trains

So our trip began with four hours of travel on three different trains. We got up early, made it to the station on time and hopped on the first train. Everything seemed too easy. About twenty minutes later the ticket collector came around. We had all purchased our tickets online and Paola and I had them on our phones because we’re so environmentally friendly (and we don’t have printers). Poor Michael, it was his first time riding on the Italian train system and somehow he bought his tickets incorrectly. After some convincing the ticket collector decided to be nice and not throw Michael off the moving train or charge him the usual 50 euro fine, which would have been a lot more than the ticket itself. I suppose this misfortune was our luckiest, but wait it gets worse.

7.50 euro wasted

Once we finally made it to Verona and had checked into our hostel we decided to walk around the town center. Piazza Bra is the main piazza in Verona and the building that stands out like a sore thumb is the famous arena. Usually they have concerts or the opera performing, but lucky us we came the one weekend they weren’t showing anything! Despite this we decided it would be cool to go inside and check it out, I mean, it’s one of the more famous landmarks of Verona and looks somewhat like the Coliseum in Rome. It must be worth it. WRONG. We each paid 7.50 (Oh and that’s with the student discount), walked in, saw that it was just a bunch of guys setting up for a show (probably the next weekend’s show), and walked out within 5 minutes. It was probably the biggest waste of money of the weekend. We decided to pretend that the money we paid was just the most expensive gelato that we never consumed (this is an inside joke so you may not find it funny).

A sweaty 14 miles

So it just so happened that on this particular weekend it was super humid, sunny and 90 degrees. Prior to coming we did actually check the weather and just thought, “okay it’ll be warm, but at least the weather will be nice!” Well none of us expected to walk as much as we did. By the end of the day when we checked Paola’s phone it said we had walked 14 miles…. 14 miles in the sweltering sun, sweating like crazy. We had to have at least lost 5 pounds in that one day.

Il Silenzio (The Silence)

Later in the afternoon after walking 14 miles we decided to head over to the Giardini Giusti (gardens). We were being really prepared tourists and even checked the hours of the gardens, but what do you know! We showed up and of course they were closing for a private concert. We asked the man at the door what the concert was for and he explained that a famous Italian cellist would be performing. We decided to buy tickets partly because we wanted to relax and hear music, and mostly so we could sneak into the gardens before the concert started. We thought this had to be the best idea of the day and we even got little free bottles of olive oil as party favors! The concert began and the cellist started playing, but then stopped after his first song. Then, a host jumped onstage and the rest of the performance was an interview with the cellist….. Turns out the “concert” was actually a dialogue about the musicians recently released book. For the next hour and a half the two men onstage rambled on and on and on about how “silence is not a break from music, but music is a break from silence”(Oh and all of this was in Italian). I’ll admit this was a pretty meaningful idea, but one can only take so much of hearing about how important il silenzio is in music. Yet again we had made fools out of ourselves…. At least we got some really great pictures in the garden and I used that olive oil all week.

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Waiting for the “concert” to begin
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Michael and Paola

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We go to an art exhibition

All weekend we had seen signs about an art exhibition in Verona titled, “Vino e arte” (wine and art) and so on the last day we decided to go. In our minds, we thought this “wine and art” exhibition was going to be a situation where you are given wine to enjoy while you walk around and look at art. If you ask me, that would be a genius idea and I would be the first person to sign up. Unfortunately, we were terribly wrong and the exhibition was about the use of wine in famous works of art. I repeat, once again we seemed very much like the ignorant American tourists. Even so, the exhibition was very interesting and the artwork did tell a story about the representation of wine in art throughout time, which was really interesting to see.

If it hasn’t been made clear already, we had quite the misfortune in Verona (or we were just stupid, which I hate to admit). Nevertheless, I loved this weekend. We made so many mistakes, but they made the trip funny and memorable. Don’t get me wrong; we did have some things go right. For example, we got to touch the lucky bosom of Juliet and we went to the infamous Lago di Garda. Verona was great and I wouldn’t change anything about the trip (except for maybe getting my 7.50 euro back). The lesson here is that traveling is never perfect and it never ends up how you imagined it, and that’s okay. If anything, it’s better this way. We learned from our mistakes and we had fun while doing it.

“Without stupid people we would have no one to laugh at. Take the time and thank a stupid person for their contribution.” –Unknown (Go ahead and thank us)

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Touching Juliet’s lucky bosom
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Lago di Garda

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