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Cities of Northern Italy

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Travel - Discussion on cities and attractions in Northern Italy

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      16.11.2010 11:16
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      A versified jaunt round some historic cities

      Maybe not quite a travel review (which could be why Dooyoo regards this topic as "Discussion") and maybe not quite a poem, but feel free to regard it as either, both or neither, according to preference. Whichever, it was prompted by the anapaestic rhythm of the rails on a recent trip to Italy.

      *


      If you've just got a week and it's culture you seek:
      Ancient cities, sublime architecture
      And celestial art such as touches the heart
      Just to look at (you don't need a lecture)...

      If you like to move on without dwelling upon
      Just one city, whatever its splendour,
      But you don't want to drive, because staying alive
      Is rather high up your agenda...

      Northern Italy ticks all those boxes and licks
      Most competitors too, inter alia,
      And at no great expense - you can eke out your pence
      If you ride round by train, Trenitalia.

      So here was our plan: first we flew to Milan,
      Or not quite to Milan to be fair,
      For Milan - did you know? - is pronounced Bergamo
      By those linguists who speak Ryanair.

      But that's kind of okay, because in its way
      Bergamo is a pretty cool città
      Or allegedly two - not so much old and new
      As high/low (rated alpha and beta).

      A funicular ride, and a second beside,
      Finds the castle on top of the hill
      Whence, walking back down, you can take in the town
      And its sights, but beware overkill.

      There are churches galore and then a few more -
      The Basilica's one of the best -
      And we felt that we ought to look inside the fort
      Called La Rocca, and came out impressed.

      Two nights will do there, with enough time to spare
      On the day you head east on the train
      At Brescia to pause, but we didn't because
      To leave bags at the station proved vain.

      So Verona's next stop. Here you walk till you drop
      Your calf muscles taking a caning
      As you gawk at the sights (there are many delights)
      And endanger your neck with much craning.

      But it's more than worthwhile. I'm a Veronaphile;
      Of course it gets crowded as hell,
      But nowhere have I seen a better Roman arena
      And the theatre's quite something as well.

      You'll see "Juliet's House" (no, you don't need much nous
      To doubt how authentic its claim,
      But stars sure were crossed and love's labours lost
      In this city, so what's in a name?)

      There are churches galore and then a few more -
      We liked Saint Anastasia's best -
      And artworks aplenty to please cognoscenti
      In the castle, if that is your quest.

      Not an hour down the line is Vicenza, a fine
      City famed for Palladian villas;
      At classical revival it has barely a rival
      And for certain no shortage of pillars.

      Among the Renaissance gems needing obeisance
      The theatre is not one to miss;
      Predating Shakespeare its stage set has no peer
      For tromp d'oeil of superb artifice.

      There are churches galore and then a few more -
      They're not an unheard-of commodity;
      But all modern within its neo-classical skin,
      The cathedral's a bit of an oddity.

      So there's plenty of stuff - a day here's not enough -
      But somehow we're back on the train.
      Like Brescia, Padova is sadly passed over,
      Making Venice last link in the chain.

      Bella, bellissima, the divine Serenissima
      Needs no introduction from me;
      In a word it's unique; the back-end of a week
      Is too little for what's there to see.

      The canals and the bridges, boats carrying fridges,
      All add to the ancient allure -
      The squares and palazzi, the light-fingered ragazzi
      (Make sure that your wallet's secure).

      There are churches galore and then a few more -
      It isn't all down to St Marks -
      Though by now, without doubt, you'll be somewhat churched out,
      And they charge you for entry, the sharks.

      The week's nearly up, with one last night to sup
      At an osteria authentically local.
      But get them to relent a bit on the polenta
      If you can, though you'll have to be vocal.

      A last glass of grappa and it's off on a vapor-
      etto across the lagoon
      To the old aeroporto, aware that you ought to
      Be aiming to come back, and soon.

      Like molten gelati it seems that the party
      Is over, it's time to go home.
      Lifting off the airstrip you start planning a trip
      For next time: perhaps Venice to Rome?


      © Also published (with photographs) under the name torr on Ciao UK, 2010

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