While Anto was busy with his 3D Visualisation class in Venice, I took a day trip train to Verona and spend the day with Lino & Ellena Bertaso. Their son, Dan Bertaso is my colleague in the UK. Upon hearing my solo plan to Verona a few days before, Dan quickly asked his parents if they’re available to spend some time with me in Verona. Unexpectedly they said yes in such a short notice. And later on, Dan facilitated to get our photos exchanged so we could recognize each other at the meeting point.
My train from Venice St. Lucia took just about 1 hour and 10 minutes to Verona Porta Nuova.
Ellena came to approach me as soon as I walked out of the arrival area. I should be fairly easy for her to recognize me as I’ve told them that I will be wearing a blue hijab (scarf) with a chequered blue red shirt and a jeans that day.
Initially I thought that we were going to go around in a car, but I was wrong. Elena told me that Lino and her each rode a bicycle from their home to the train station and they have parked the bicycles nearby hence we will be going around Verona on foot. I have no problem with the idea of walking but I didn’t expect them to walk with me for the rest of the day. In my observation of elders at their age barely walk as much in my home country. To my surprise, Lino & Ellena walked faster than me without getting tired! Or at least, they didn’t look tired.
Lino especially was very passionate to introduce Verona to me. It was a bit unfortunate that I didn’t speak any Italian and they didn’t speak much English. I can see that Lino was trying to explain a lot of things when we walked around, the history behind them, about the famous story of Romeo and Juliet who lived there long ago, as well as the memories he had there. As much as possible, Ellena helped me out to translate them with her limited English.
Lino that Ellena loved Verona so much that they decided to get settled there once they got married. They said they could not imagine spending their lives in other city.
As we continue walking further, I slowly began to understand why.
As the city of Romeo & Juliet, the romantic ambient naturally filled the surroundings. It was all translated on every element of the city – the Roman buildings, the markets, the cobbled streets, the cafes and restaurants and the local Veronans themselves.
They still say hi to each other if they bumped into someone they know. There were quite several times that Lino & Ellena were approaching or been approached so we stopped for a little chat on the street. I also remember when I was standing at the door of a shop next to the Juliet’s (Montague) house when the shop assistant asked my name and tell me to come in. He later sewn my name on a paper and gave it to me for free. That was for me a truly random sweet act.
Lino & Ellena had also took me for their routine morning coffee at their favorite café. Ellena said that one of their friends is working there, so we walked passing a day market at Piazza delle Erbe where the cafe was located.
As we entered the cafe, Ellena waved to her friend across the counter and ordered us 3 cups of coffees. While sipping our coffees Lino & Elena introduced me to lady. She was very friendly and the cappuccinos she made us were very good.
After nearly 3 hours going around the city, it was time for me to head back to Venice as my host from Star of Venice will be waiting for me at St Lucia station later that evening. Just before leaving Verona, Lino & Ellena took me for a last treat to an ice-cream parlour. On the way walking towards the station we each had in hands, a semifrodo – Verona specialty ice-cream. Nothing more rewarding than an ice cream on a sunny day.
It was only about 3-4 hours that I spent with them in Verona but this pair has thought me many things that day. They were nearly 70 years old and very loving, healthy and active. I could see that they were enjoying their simple lives and celebrating the passing moments in their own unselfish way.
Ellena ensured that I had my printed ticket with me and we hugged before departed at the train door. All the way in the train to Venice I kept thinking of how the day was nicely spent for me. I hope I could come and visit them again in the future.
I didn’t have many photos of Verona as I was very occupied enjoying so much of Lino & Elena’s hospitality. But here’s a selfie with them that I manage to snap.