"" Writer's Wanderings: 18 Days Through Europe in an Audi - Verona, Italy

Friday, November 05, 2010

18 Days Through Europe in an Audi - Verona, Italy

[Summer, 2004]

Our exit from Venice was surprisingly easy and we traveled the road about an hour and a half to Verona without any problem. Verona is the fictional home of Romeo and Juliet. We weren't sure what we would find there but it was large enough to at least hold out hope for a good place for lunch. Polly paged through the Rick Steves book and found a first century arena in Verona that deserved a look.

The Arena di Verona was easy to find. It was just down the street from where all the tour buses were dropping off passengers. There are four original arches on the outside and the inner oval is still intact. We climbed the huge stones levels for seating and looked down to the arena floor imagining a Christians vs. Lions event. What an awful thing that must have been. On the lighter side, we did the "wave" and admired the huge staging area for the opera season that was about to begin. They say the acoustics are perfect in there and no microphones are needed.

The other amazing feature of the arena was all the intricate ramps and walkways that were built into the underside of the arena. I was intrigued with the idea of first century architects and engineers designing the whole thing and not having it cave in for 20 centuries.

We walked a ways into the city and found a sidewalk cafe. This was the first place we ran into street beggars. A little boy was working the tables until he was chased by the waiter. Later we saw him with his mother (or maybe his sister) and a baby she was nursing. It was a "baby with a baby". She couldn't have been more than 15 or 16.

A short distance from the cafe was Juliet's courtyard. Through an arched doorway you enter a small courtyard bordered by a building that has an overhanging balcony much like you would envision Juliet's balcony in Shakespeare's story. The walls of the courtyard are covered with love notes and love wishes in every language you could imagine.
Just below the balcony is a bronze statue of Juliet, breast exposed. The statue is weathered except for the exposed breast which is kept polished by many hands posed there for pictures. Polly and I took Bob and Dick by the hand and led them out to continue on our way to Milan.

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