After our trip to Padova, our next stop for a day was to Verona. For some reason, I absolutely loved this city, even more so than our three days spent in Florence. Perhaps it was for its reknowned landmark of Juliet’s balcony. Yes, it is said to be the balcony of Giulietta Capuleti (Juliet Capulets). But, before I discuss that, let me start from the beginning of our day.
The day began with our typical bus ride to our next destination. As we ventured down the highway and came to the entrance of Verona’s fortified walls, my camera never ceased to take pictures.
Its fortification walls included wooden lookouts that jutted from the wall. The structure just transported me to an entirely different one, a much different Italy from that which we see today. In the past, Verona was considered one of the key cities of the Northern portion of Italy. Over and over again it was conquered – the Scaligers, Princes of Scala between 1260 and 1387, then by the Visconti, and finally gave into Venetian rule from 1405 until 1801. Do not forget that it only more recent that Italy became one unified state.
Our bus slowly crept up a hill, upon which there stands a church. Sorry, I do not remember the name of it. Its name escapes me. Our view revealed the splendors of the city.
I could have simply stayed up on that hill all day to enjoy the view and the cool gentle breeze that relieved us from the scorching sun. After about a half hour, we all boarded our bus and made our way back into town for our tour of the city. Once again, I didn’t bother to listen at all to what the tour guide was saying. Every time I listened, it always seemed less interesting than what I was seeing. Along our walk, we found many tombs hoisted in the air on ornate pedestals, and encountered musicians playing in the streets.
The pictures above are from the Captain’s Plaza, dated as being from the 14th century! Eventually we made our way to the Piazza dell’Erbe.
We were slowly making our way to the main attraction, what I had been waiting to see all day! Juliet’s balcony! Our tour guide advised everyone who had a bag to mind them, as pickpocketers were everywhere in this part of town. With the amount of people passing through a narrow space, it was an ideal spot to try to snatch something out of someone’s pocket. Tourists enter a sort of hall that leads to an open courtyard. Along the walls, lovers leave their messages, and there is a tradition of lovers also each taking their own chewed piece of gum, sticking them together, and placing it on the walls. I guess representing their hopes of “sticking” together forever.
A modern sign marks the spot as well as this stone plate placed over the entrance to the courtyard. It states “These were the houses of the Capuleti, where Juliet left, for which gentle hearts cried a lot and poets sang”. (I think that’s how you could best translate it.)
We spent a few moments taking in the sights and then left the way we came. It would have been great to be able to go inside and look at the courtyard from the balcony. Unfortunately, there was not enough time for that. Nor were we given a chance to see Juliet’s tomb. Her tomb is located in the Capuchin cloisters which is near the Adige River along Via del Pontiere. Our next stop was near the Arena.
The road leading to the Arena is lined with many of Italy’s top designers – Gucci, Max Mara, Geox, United Colors of Benetton, as well as other popular but not so highly priced stores. The Arena is only open for a short period of time during the day, I think. That day, the wait was two hours long, and there was no way my friends and I were waiting that long with no lunch and nothing to drink. After much needed nourishment and refreshments, we set out again to do a little bit of shopping on our own. A couple of my friends and I ventured to a market, which is where I did most of my gift shopping for family.
Our day had finally come to an end, and it was time to yet again board our bus and return to Urbino. Only one week had passed, and yet the little Renaissance town nestled in the mountains already felt like home. While everyone slept on the bus, I managed to have some energy to snap more pictures. I was even lucky enough to get a picture of this Ferrari stuck in traffic next to our bus.
Only in Italy! Our dinner out consisted of dining at a Restaurant called Ristorante Amacord. Amacord is also the name of a famous movie, and literally means ‘I remember’, in dialect. In Italian, it would be mi ricordo. And boy, was it a night to remember! The dinner was spectacular and the wine gently flowed into our exhausted bodies. Inspite of all the walking and exhaustion from the heat, we stilled managed to get up and dance to the music played by our own private live band. During dinner, they played a couple of Italian songs, however, they soon began to play American music, saying, that’s all they really knew. The program director’s wife was outraged, and ordered them to play some Italian music. But, well, this was a democracy, and the people had spoken, so they played American.