On Mondays the Arena di Verona stays dark to give all the people who work there a day off.
So on the Monday evening when I was there I went to a chamber music concert in the courtyard of the church of San Luca (Chiostro di San Luca Evangelista) on Corso Porta Nuova just a block or so from Piazza Bra.
Originally they had set up about a hundred seats, but since more and more people kept coming they quickly set up forty more chairs off to the left under the arcade, in the space that is still empty in this photo.
On the program were works for violin and chamber orchestra by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) and Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741), including Vivaldi's Four Seasons (Le Quattro Stagioni in Italian).
As you can see from their dates, these two composers were very close contemporaries, which I somehow never realized, since to me Vivaldi seems so much further in the past than Bach. (Maybe Italians have the opposite feeling, I don't know.)
Second photo: The musicians taking their bows. I was impressed by the fact that all three violinists took turns playing the solo parts in the different pieces.
Third photo: Here's what the courtyard looks like during the day, without the chairs.
Fourth photo: In case of rain, they do their concerts inside the church.
My insomnia was awful in Verona. After our first night there when I was told to go to my room by the hotel staff who wanted to turn the lobby lights off I knew it was no use to try reading quietly in the lobby.
So on on my second night I went out for another wander. Verona felt perfectly safe at 11pm and as dead as a doornail. I wasn't hungry - but I reckoned a glass or two of wine would help me sleep.
So there was this pizza joint in the same little square just off Piazza Bra where the Hotel Bologna was so I pitifully approached and asked if I could buy a glass of wine.
The blessed waitress rushed me out the door and pointed up some steps and said - Go up there. There is a door. Live music.
Just the job.
But the night before I had walked up and down, looking for some signs of life - Verona felt perfectly safe at 1am in the morning but dead as a doornail - and gone up those stairs and found myself in a tiny lobby - one sign intimating there might be a bar with music - but three walls - no door handles, no sound of music or revelry.
But on the second night I was desperate and pulled and pushed at the velvet curtain on one wall and the steel bars on the other wall and the plain wooden expanse of the other wall - and it was a door. As I pushed it open - noise, people, life!
I walked down the stairs. 100 people eating and drinking and talking and waiters and waitresses rushing hither and yon with plates heaped with barbequed meat.
Unbelievable. Sound proof doors.
The waitress I approached was most agreeable to sit me at a table near the stage with the piano - but as I only wanted wine I removed myself to the bar and a bar stool and she was agreeable about that. Golly what a find!
The price of drinks was reasonable - the only glitch to my perfection was it was non smoking. Above the bar was a montage of jazz greats - many of them smoking like proverbial chimneys - so I was a bit aggrieved.
But soon there would be live jazz. With no cover charge.
Dress Code: Met a young Italian fellow during one the smoko breaks outside. He bludged a smoke off me. I was gobsmacked to find out that listening to jazz was a naughty experience. Only 2 years ago Il Papa had inveighed against it. The work of the devil or some such. Frankly, I think Il Papa ought to get out more.
And the band came on and they were very reasonable indeed. I'm not saying they were jazz greats - but they didn't stink the place out. They were loud - great - and lots of people who were there to eat and talk decided to go home and paid their bills etc and just the people who wanted the music stayed.
So I moved closer to the front and enjoyed myself no end.
The waitpersons - who were trying to set up tables for tomorrow and that - were still being very agreeable (at the end of what must have been a long, hard shift for them) I was most impressed.
The band worked really hard to get Verona smoking - real pros - and I joined in their last song - Hit the road Jack and don't you come back no more no more no more no more, hit the road Jack - (they were inviting the audience to participate - I found out they mostly work in America, just come home for the Chrissy hols I expect) and then I got up and danced a little.
I got a round of applause and the band leader came to my table to have a chat.
It was okay it was fine. There is some life in Verona after all. Place closed up at 2 am - which is early - but I didn't go looking for anywhere else. No use expecting miracles.
I had a few smokes outside my hotel and went up to bed and managed to get to sleep.
Nice place. Think you would like it. Especially if you were a carnivore. Those plates were heaped with meat!
No wonder Verona seems so dead and alive at night. The fun places are sound proofed.
Dress Code: Very agreeable place. Agreeable staff, reasonable prices, no objections to the elderly dancing.
The power of attraction of a city is not only caused by its interesting and historical buildings but also by its liveliness and activities. So we were very lucky to visit the old citycentre of Verona during a festival.
At the Piazza Bra musicians were playing at a stage in front of the townhall. A local dancing group was dancing in front of the stage between the many spectators. I enjoyed the performance itself, but also the incredible ambiance of the townhall and arena.
Sincerely, I don't know the english name for this instrument, in my country we call it "vergl" and the guy who is performing music "verglas".
This picture was taken on Piazza Bra, right in front of the Arena. The instrument is very pitoresque and it produced lovely tunes. The musiciian was accompagnied by his colourful parrot, dunno if speaking kind.
What are friends for if not to help us when we need it. Thanks to Jean-Louis (aka JLBG), now I know the english name for the musician, it ia huardy guardy men. Years ago, there were song written by Donovan called "Hardy guardy nen", I hope there are still people here who remember him
In case you prefer sitting on the table when eating or sipping your drink, there is a room with 60 places too where the unplugged band perform lovely tunes from the sixtees. There is nothing to be vorried about, the musuc is not too loud.
If around Castelvecchio or in its vicinity, there is another cafe-bar with the same name in Corso Castelvecchio 5/A, right opposite to the castle.
The long aperitives are served from 18:00 to 24:00 (they wont throw you out at 24:05).
Menu of the day cost you 7,00 euros only, can you belive it!
You can get English breakfest too.
Wine bar, food bar, cheese bar, sweet bar, American bar available too.
Who could ask for more!
Dress Code: No dress code goes for day visitors too.
There is a cute little cafe-bar in Via Pallone 20/D, just a foot from Arena and all major historic sights of the town. Here you can enjoy in inexpensive food, excellent Italian wines and when sipping it in very good late sixtees and seventees live music, performing by a local unplugged band. If you like music of CCR, Rolling Stones, Animals, etc., this is the right place to spend the evening. Do not miss it when in Verona.
Dress Code: No dress code, anything you like.
Verona in summer months is a centre of the opera festival which is held in Arena. Beside opera, other concerts are also held in the piazza Bra.