The 2010 WRA Bella Italia Performance Tour through the eyes of a traveler

Martha Miller - student at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio and currently on tour in Italy - is the recipient of the Incantato Tours WRA scholarship for blogging. Here are some of her findings along with pictures taken in Verona.

WRA Incantato Italy Tour DAY 4: Verona
Hello from a bus in the middle of Italy! Not the exact middle, but we are driving from the north more towards the middle part of Italy. We took our two-hour bus drive down to Verona yesterday with our wonderful bus driver and guide, and saw many farms out the window in that time. The bus drive felt oddly short as we pulled up in Verona and began our first adventures in an Italian city with a new added twist--there were cars everywhere! Unlike Venice, we had to be aware of cars and motorbikes driving up and down the streets, and we found that crosswalks in Verona last less time than the infamous crosswalk across Main Street in Hudson, leaving some of us on the other side of the street.
We ate lunch inside an old church that had been renovated, St. Matthew's Church. It was there that we really noticed for the first time how long Italian meals are--we ate for almost two and a half hours! After we finished, we met with our local guide and got a beautiful walking tour of Verona, complete with a very deep history of Verona. We started at the Gate of Jupiter and ended inside 'Juliet's House'--the house supposedly of the Capulets from Shakespeare's play. After that we were given some free time to walk around Verona's crowded streets before meeting back by the amphitheatre--yes, Verona has one too but it's not as big as Coliseum in Rome. It's actually the third largest in Italy.
We drove to our hotel and got settled in before heading out to Valeggio sul Mincio, a small village beyond Verona's city limits, for dinner. All of the kids went to a pizzeria with our guide and had delicious pizzas while the rest of the adults had some alone time for a nice quiet dinner (quite the gift on a trip like this one). Then we all met together at our bus and went back to the hotel to go to sleep.
This morning we got up and began our three hour trek to Montecatini, where we will have most of the day to ourselves before diving back into the intense touring once again!

WRA Incantato Italy Tour Days 1 through 3: Flights & Venice
The WRA tour group arrived in Venice two days ago, after several hours on three different planes. We met up with our guide, and put our bags in the hotel before beginning our tour of the city of Venice. It's confusing! The streets tend to mostly all look the same, and the shops all blur together in a mish-mash of masks, food vendors and 'I -heart- Venice' shirts. We walked through the Jewish ghettos--the first ghettos in Europe--and finally got to have our first lunch in Rialto Bridge. Afterwards we continued to St. Mark's Square. A large group of us had the wonderful oppourtunity to go on a gondola, and it really sunk in that we were in Venice! After a delicious dinner (at LaBrindisi, pictured) we went back to the hotel to collapse into bed.
Our second day was spent mostly in St. Mark's area, taking tours of Doge's Palace and the St. Mark's Basilica. We also visited a Venetian glass factory, where we saw a professional glass-maker make a vase in about five minutes flat right before our eyes! Afterwards we were allowed to wander and visit some of the museums in St. Mark's Square. Finally it was time for our concert inside St. Mark's Basilica for mass. Although it was absolutely freezing inside and the crowd was small, the concert sounded beautiful and we moved off to our celebratory dinner. Finally we went back to the hotel to fall back into our beds.
Today we are driving two hours by bus to Verona, and after the long walks around the winding bridges of Venice we're looking forward to some time sitting down!