As we boarded the water taxi for the return trip to Marco Polo Airport I thought how fortunate we were to obtain seats as most of the vehicle was standing room only. To my amazement in short order a water taxi pulled alongside us and I discovered that we were not on our conveyance at all but a floating waiting area. Upon arriving at the airport we rented our second car of the journey and I was so pleased to see that it had more than enough leg room. We began what was little more than an hour’s ride to Verona, Romeo and Juliet’s home.
Our hotel, the Aurora, was in the heart of the city. The desk clerk who checked us in spoke immaculate english and had a constant infectious smile. She cautioned us to stick with the trattorias that she recommended to us as many eateries in Verona serve horse meat which is a local speciality. It is called cavallo. Indeed we found not only is horse a delicacy in Verona, and in Venice, but also donkey. When I first heard the waiter of a trattoria that we had almost decided to enter, describing some of his favorite dishes I noticed he spoke passionately about serving donkey. He went on to say that this dish was very normal in Verona and that he preferred it raw with a little olive oil and lemon juice. While we were in Verona we ate primarily pizza and pasta.
One of the great themes of Verona is Romeo and Juliet. William Shakespeare’s sonnet of the tragic lovers takes place in the old Italian City and is believed to have been written between 1591 to 1595. It was first published in 1597. Juliet’s house is the place to go and so we went. The Casa di Giulietta is an example of the compelling power of the tragic love story. The house was owned by the Capello family. Juliet’s family name was Capulet. The house was built in the thirteenth century but the balcony was added in the twentieth century. It is not known if Romeo and Juliet were but figments of Shakespeare’s imagination. Nevertheless the story’s power is only reenforced by a visit to the house. While we were touring the house I noticed a young woman dressed as Juliet who was inspecting the premises as well. It appeared her mother was accompanying her and taking her picture throughout the residence and the balcony. The look of awe and wonder on this lady’s face expressed to me more than any history book the impact of the tragic love story. A bronze of Juliet in the courtyard of her home.
We also visited Juliet’s Tomb. I was highly impressed with the beauty of the garden surrounding the entrance to the sarcophagus. The somber splendor of the cool mausoleum caused me to reflect on the possibility that remains of Juliet might be housed within. Margo began speaking with a gentleman guarding the area. As they spoke in Italian I heard them laughing with a knowing look upon their faces. When they concluded their conversation I inquired of Margo what the man had said. She replied that he had told her that no one was buried in the Tomb…tourists.
The Verona Arena located in Piazza Bra is a fascinating structure reminiscent of the Colosseum in Rome. It was built in the first century by the Flavian emperors and gladiators fought there for nearly four hundred years. Emperor Honorius stopped gladiator games in 404 AD. After this the Amphitheatre stood empty for centuries. The dark catacombs of the Arena were referred to as the labyrinth of the devil by the people of Verona. From June until August you can enjoy opera nightly in the structure during the opera festival.
After dinner the first evening that we were in Verona we enjoyed a leisurely visit on a terrace connected to the hotel. The surroundings were very beautiful and a live band was performing in the city square. It was then that I realized what a historic exquisite city Verona truly was. There is a relaxed atmosphere that is rare in a city of that size.
Our last dinner is Verona was at a trattoria that was housed both inside and in the courtyard of what appeared to be an office/apartment building. Soon after we sat down it began to rain…first slowly and then an Italian downpour. As I became partially wet, we were actually under some of the building, I thought what a nice experience in a beautiful city with dear friends of many years and enjoying delicious lamb…?