Panic In Verona

Last day started with checking the hire car docs. We didn’t have to give it back till the same hour we are supposed to take off at the airport. This means we have most of the day to mooch our way over to Verona, and get a small amount of sight seeing in before leaving.

It was 3 hours back to Verona and, because Angus had been before, it was relatively simple to park within walking distance of the centre. We had about 3 hours to have a nice leisurely lunch, a bit of a walk around and get to the airport for our flight. 


This city is where your stereotypical Italian streets come from. They are all narrow and brightly coloured, with decorated stone balconies and wooden shutters lining all sides. 

Angus navigated us to Piazza delle Erbe – a historic market square in the centre of Verona. It was surrounded by loads of 1 room restaurants spilling out onto the square. We picked one at random under a huge parasol and got a table amongst the market pandemonium. 

It was great to sit back and people watch, particularly as Italians are known for their style, We enjoyed seeing the outfits some people were subjecting themselves to. One girl’s sunglasses had a flat top part to the frame that was so thick it looked like 2 playing cards on her face. I dunno how she saw out, presumably only looking down at her feet and navigating by memory of the distinctive cobbles.

It was wonderful watching the market buzz, enjoying a beer and chatting about the week’s adventures. But we found the waiters and the food was a bit slow coming. This is probably our attitude rubbing up against the Italian attitude for promptness and timekeeping more than actually poor service. 

Being in Verona and not knowing when we would be back, we took a quick walk. Briefly we stopped and looked at Juliette’s fabled balcony, the Roman remains of the gate to the city and the Arena. We were running out of time so basically jogged down the street to see it.

This last quick stop was the most impressive because not only was it built 2000 years ago, and a physically huge civil structure, but because it’s still in use as an events space. The opera has been performed here for over 100 years. Right now I can only imagine how spectacular that must be to enjoy theatre in such a dramatic setting. I love the thought of seeing something here, so I’m going to add it to my bucket list.

The whistlestop tour completed the holiday. While we had enjoyed seeing some sights we really had to go, we were out of time. We now faced the complexity of retrieving the car from the parking structure. This was the only time I was glad the hire co had dicked us over with a smaller car. The subterranean car park was clearly built following the dimensions of the historically narrow streets above. It was all I could do not to scrape the car as we inched round the spiral exit ramp. I was proud of not dinging the car, and all was going smoothly till we reached the ticket barrier. 

It was not clear where we needed to go to pay for the parking. There were no payment machines in sight and the help button on the barrier was zero use. The exasperated operator told us there was a payment machine behind us – which there wasn’t. So we all split up and ran off into the car park searching. Eventually we did find a machine behind us – at the other end of the whole carpark – and had to run to get back to the car before we held anyone up.

Next came a nerve-wrackingly “swift” drive thru the town, obeying most traffic laws, not going the wrong way down any more than 1 road – I think… We got back to the airport and dove out of the car. Aimi, Scott and Angus hefted their bags and went to find the check in desk. We weren’t late, but we didn’t have time to hang around. I did a video of the outside of the car, to record the condition it was left, and turned to go towards the rental desk. 

This is when an Italian lady stopped me and asked for my keys and paperwork. She didn’t have any ID that I could see, wasn’t wearing a company logo on her shirt and had a large handbag with her, so it wasn’t obvious that she worked for the rental co. She could have just been a randomer chancing it to steal a car for all I knew. I asked for some ID because I didn’t really want to hand over the keys to anyone and she became really abrupt and rude, saying she was doing me a favour. In the end I didn’t have time to argue and relied on my faith in humanity that 99% of people are good and she was being truthful. I gave her the keys and then casually stood in front of the car to reduce the likelihood the other 1% would actually run me over to steal a crappy car.

The key hand over went ok but took way too long for literally giving a set of keys over and signing a piece of paper. Aimi was calling me as we concluded the rental. Were they going thru security? Now I was starting to sweat that I’d be left in Italy on my own. I bolted out the car hire building and over to the airport to find the departures section was at the other end and there was building work going on with a diversion! I didn’t have a wheeled bag so I grabbed a trolley and scooted myself around the carpark as fast as I could. People saw a 6ft2 sweaty man barrelling towards them and got out of the way. I didn’t need to know italian, it was clear from context that I would not be slowing down.

In the end I needn’t have rushed quite so much. I arrived in time, we dropped the bags and then I enjoyed standing in the security queue sweating. I couldn’t be bothered to open all my bags and drone stuff up for the bag scanner. In the UK, they were hot on separating electricals from everything else, but here, my bunch of lipo batteries, strange electronics and radio equipment passed thru without a second glance. Hurrah for security checks.

Its always funny how much like cattle, humans can be, when in a crowd. We reached the gate and had our tickets checked before being ushered airside to wait in a holding pen. Our orange EasyJet was nowhere in sight so we all just moo’ed and moaned about the end of the holiday. The pen next to us sprang a leak at one point and humans started dashing across the runway towards the only plane in sight. Halfway there, a few Italians in high vis started arguing with each other and the herd slowed before being rounded up and put back in their pen. Good job too, because not long later a bus came and took them away. We never saw them again.

The flight was fine and packed as all cheap flights are. Landing in Gatwick it was now Scotts turn to drive us all home. For the journey I got some airport toblerones. These tasted much better than the ones in Italy.