Despite what may be implied by the title of this entry, what follows in not a reflection upon some romantic gesture made by my very own Romeo. My sweet husband would have to make a romantic gesture before I could write about it. (This is where you hear the little snare drum/cymbal combo that traditionally follows up a joke.) So, why would I tease a blog-perusing hopeless romantic with a title referencing Shakespeare’s famous love story? Because, after a weekend retreat with Kevin and my parents, I now have the answer to the ageold question of “wherefore art thou Romeo?” Romeo, my friends, is in Verona…
With the arrival of their 30th anniversary in September, my parents decided to celebrate with a trip to Italy. I, of course, was a lead beneficiary to this decision since their January trip would bring them within hugging distance for the first time in five months. As I was planning their eight-day stay in northern Italy, I considered the option of Verona. Nestled in the Italian countryside between Milano and Venezia, the city is only a two-hour drive from the airport where I would be picking up mio genitori. And, being the city that prides itself as the setting for Shakespeare’s most famous love story, it was the perfect destination for an anniversary-celebrating couple! So that’s where we went. Me, Kevin, and my newly-arrived, as in just stepped off the plane, parents.
As I suspected, and as I had hoped for the sake of my parents who were seeing Italy for the first time, Verona had all that I love about Italian towns. The welcoming café bar owners, cute cobblestone streets, endlessly impressive churches with breathtaking interiors, high-reaching clock towers, beautiful piazzas, and charming bridges. And, to our delight, we found Verona to have even more…
For starters, Verona has a medieval castle. I’ve heard all about castles in Italy, but this is the first one I have seen in person. Built by the ruling Scaligeri family in the 14th century, the brick Castelvecchio is accessible via it’s matching bridge over the Adige River. The building is a two-layer museum considering that it’s exterior is as much of a sight as the roomfuls of artwork housed within. With the sight of the castle itself, its views of the river, and it’s collection of renaissance art, the castle certainly proved to be a worthwhile stop in our city exploration.
So, Verona’s got the piazzas, churches, culture, and a castle. But that’s still not all… this little northeastern city also has its own Roman ruins! On the outskirts of the city, on the opposite side of the river, we excitedly sauntered through the remains of a Roman Theater from the first century B.C! The crumbled archways and moss-covered columns were an incredible sight in the foreground of the rest of the city. Behind the theater is an archaeological museum in which Roman artifacts found in Verona are on display. As I have mentioned before, I was never a history buff. However, seeing coins, statues, and mosaics from unfathomably long ago in the city where they were excavated inspires a whole new appreciation for the subject.
In addition to the remains of the Teatro Romano, Verona is home to one of the world’s largest Roman Arenas. Built in the first century A.D, the arena is extremely well-preserved, seating upwards of 20,000 people and serving as a venue for seasonal opera and music performances. The performers don’t even need microphones thanks to the acoustics afforded by the stadium’s oval design. From the uppermost aisle of the arena, I could hear my father talking in his trademark barroom whisper down below. His quotes from the Godfather trilogy, and the notes from his whistles echoed throughout the arena. As I stood in the center of the arena, I was star-struck by history while I imagined the gladiators who once took in the same view.
In addition to its impressive collection of historically significant architecture, Verona offers supplemental charm to it’s already charming landscape by proclaiming itself the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. As the supposed hometown to the pair of literature’s most famous lovers, several places within the city claim to be important to the story. The biggest draw of them all is Juliet’s house. When we found the landmark spot, we admired the countless inscriptions left by former visitors upon the brick archway. Collectively, these colorful proclamations of love looked like a work of art. Beyond the Pollock-inspired entry-way, a quaint piazza was enclosed by three buildings, the right of which was said to be la casa di Giulietta.
While I’m a sucker for romantic comedies, I’m not especially a fan of mushy, cliché, over-the-top romanticism in real-life. I can’t explain the inconsistency between my love of rom-com storylines and my indifference to contrived real-life romance. But this indifference is the reason I had no desire to take a gondola ride in Venice and why I did not care to share a kiss on Juliet’s balcony. But when in the vicinity of a Roman collosseum, do as the Romans do. And any self-respecting Italy-dweller would probably jump at the opportunity for some PDA! So, Kevin and I walked up the stairs and stepped onto the balcony overlooking a herd of tourists who were there to see Juliet’s house, rub her bronzed statued-boob for good luck, and admire the pleasant little piazza. And we kissed. Twice. The second time wasn’t out of a sudden change-of-heart to being forced into a romantic situation… my mom who was standing below just couldn’t figure out the flash on the camera.
Despite my inability to embrace my inner Shakespeare, I truly enjoyed all the Verona had to offer. With it’s assortment of landmarks from Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance time periods, and its general feel of Italian lifestyle, it was the perfect way to kick-off the week with my parental pair and to add yet another Italian city to my list of adventures.
|Walking over the Adige River|
|Columns by the Teatro Romano|
|View from the Roman Theater|
|View from the Archaelogic Museum overlooking the theater|
|Piazza Delle Erbe|
|The entry-way to Juliet's House|
|Walking over to the Castelvecchio|
|The four of us in the Roman Arena|