Side Trip: Verona in a Flash


I THOUGHT I WAS RACING THROUGH EUROPE until I met a young California couple in Milan’s central train station, consulting their Eurail map. They are doing nine countries in three weeks. By that standard, my trip — three countries in four weeks — is leisurely. Yet my three-and-a-half hours in Verona, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its medieval architecture, was ridiculously inadequate.

I had braved the Metro for the first time, taking it four stops from the Duomo station near my hotel to Milano Centrale, and found it very civilized. Not crowded, well-marked, 1.5 euro/ride. My intention was to take an 11:35 train to Verona, but I needed a reservation. I took a number (#741) and waited to be called to one of a dozen windows. They were up to #687 when I got there about 10:45, and the line wasn’t moving fast. At 11:38 I had my reservations — on the 12:05 to Verona, with a return to Milan later (but not late enough) the same day.


When I got off at Verona after an hour-and-a-half in first-class comfort, I couldn’t spot a tourist information stand or a billboard with a map on it or anything. So I approached a limo driver who was holding a placard outside the station. “Scusi, signore, dove il centro?”  I think I fooled him with my perfect accent. He gave me some rapid-fire directions accompanied, fortunately, by clear hand gestures. After 10 minutes of walking along a busy boulevard, I came to an arched gate, above, clearly the place where the old city began. And just beyond it, yet another Roman arena, huge and so intact it’s used for a summer opera festival. (At this point, I’m blasé about Roman arenas.)

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Verona is a very pretty town,  After an earthquake in the 12th century, the city was rebuilt in Romanesque style. Much of that, especially church architecture, remains. The pink and yellow buildings, with peaked windows, turrets, towers, and balconies, reminded me somewhat of Venice, less than two hours away.


I joined the throngs of visitors dodging each other’s cameras. With limited time and zero advance prep, all I could do was walk, and look, and eat.

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I had lunch outdoors in Piazza Erbe, below — a cold seafood salad followed by the best spinach tortellini in memory.


Then I retraced my steps, more or less, to the station, and tore myself away from Verona, having had no more than the merest glimpse of a potentially enthralling place.

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Eyebrows in the Snow


A FREAK PRE-HALLOWEEN SNOWSTORM befell the mid-Hudson Valley last night, dropping more than a foot on top of trees in full autumnal leaf. Very odd. Today was more seasonal — mild, with a blue sky, and snow rapidly melting. I went out to take some pictures of a couple of my favorite local buildings against the snow.


The 18th century eyebrow colonial, top and above (so called because of the two fixed windows in the upper story, just below the eaves), is on the market. Again. Or perhaps still. I remember it listed at 519K a couple of years back; today’s new, improved price is 439K. What that says about the market is nothing good.


The house itself is wonderful, updated but with original details like wide plank floors and a big fireplace. It’s on five acres in Milan, northern Dutchess County, with a pond right across the (quiet) road. Downside? High taxes, ten grand a year. That could be a deal-breaker for many.


Not two houses away is a modernist statement, above, that went up a few years ago. Even though I’m an old-house person at heart, this place could change my mind. It’s beautifully sited, with a view toward that same pond, and sits unobtrusively in the landscape. It must be sun-drenched inside. I like it a lot.


Another fave, above, is a mustard yellow eyebrow, impeccably restored.



Wonder what it means to have two front doors right next to each other? A two-family house, most likely.


Down the road apiece: rolling hills and a herd of Black Angus cows, below, as well as two fine red barns.



The Snows of Turkey Hill



And despite our latest impressive 19 inches of snow, we haven’t seen much of this either…


Nor even, I’m glad to say, this:


These pictures were sent to me by my wasband, who is living (cheerfully) through winter’s icy grip in the Northern Dutchess cottage, below.


Go here to see how the same place looks in milder weather.

Undiscovered Milan: Oldies, Acreage from 519K

COMING TO YOU TONIGHT FROM MILAN, not to be confused with the Italian fashion capital. This Milan is pronounced MY-lan, and it’s in northern Dutchess County, N.Y. In the 19th century, there was a crossroads around here called Milanville, with a post office. Now Milan doesn’t have even that. A few miles northeast of Rhinebeck, completely lacking in useful amenities of its own like stores and gas stations, Milan shares a ZIP code and a school district with Red Hook.

What Milan does have are old farmhouses, Catskill views from many spots, long country roads, a few remaining sheep farms and apple orchards, and unspoiled rural character, which is good enough for me.

Today I checked out a few recent for-sale listings here in Milan. Instead of capping my search at 500K or 600K, as I normally do for blogging purposes (doesn’t it say ‘Affordable Real Estate’ in the header?), I threw caution to the winds and didn’t set an upper limit. As a result, I saw three very appealing historic houses with lots of acreage, all on secluded sites off Academy Hill Road (exit at Rt. 199 off the Taconic State Parkway, just under 2 hours from NYC). Click the links on the descriptions below for the realtors’ listings, with full details.

  • A vintage farmhouse on a huge pond, top, on 53 acres for $1.25million