Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In Fair Verona, the Unfair

Will Shakespeare, patron saint of the Verona board of tourism. Verona owes its modern existence and its economy to the bard's favorable (?) portrayal in Romeo and Juliet.

After wandering a few streets, you come to an alley packed full of post-its with expressions of undying love ... and other emotions. Joy says, "Isn't it amazing how post-its can express undying love?" The alley spills out into...

The real home of the real Capulets. Juliet's balcony (added in the 1930s for the tourists) is quite picturesque. There' s just one thing: the little square here is only ten feet wide and not very long: WHERE DID ROMEO HIDE?? He would've been seen at an instant! I've performed on stages that are larger. Yes, there's a statue of Juliet just below your view. Tradition tells people to do things to her statue that do not belong in a family blog.

Verona has more than just Juliet's balcony to attract people. They also have the third largest colosseum in Italy. This brings me to my characterization of UnFair Verona. We came to Verona TWICE and the Arena was closed both times - once in preparation for a concert the next day, but they assured me they would be open the next week. So we came back and they had closed for the day at 2pm. UnFair! We also never got to the ancient Roman theater where I had planned to recite King Henry V's St. Crispin's Day speech. Those being my major draws to Verona, it was a major let down. Somewhere along the way, Hyrum got his finger on my camera lens, so a bunch of my pictures are smudgy.

The Arena is guarded by fiercely costumed actors who were disappointed with my tip after the pictures were taken. As we finished, the guy on the left flashed me the corner of a bill indicating the desired payment. HOW much?? We narrowly escaped with our dignity intact. There was also a woman dressed as an Egyptian sarcophagus/moving statue that freaked Hyrum a little.

But wait, there's more! Shakespeare, after all, was never actually in Verona or any Italian city in his (possibly fictional) livelong life. But Dante lived here. The fellow who gave us the nine circles of hell lived and worked here and is commemorated only by this unmarked statue in a plaza near Juliet's home. He has an excellent view of the many vendors selling their wares. I think that's the third circle of hell for a poet....

The main cemetery was pretty cool, with its declaration of RESURRECTURIS, a testimony that these bones will rise again. Taken through the car windshield.

Here is the plaza (yes, it should be piazza, but I'm a dumb Californian and to us it's a plaza). Hidden in here are beautiful fountains, murals, defense towers, and the sarcophagi of Verona's rulers, the Scaligeri family. Not that anyone was paying attention.

Yes, I enjoyed the vendors too. Verona was just a little too commercial for the humanities minor in me to enjoy properly. I liked Venice more because 1) I was expecting it to be commercial and 2) there was a lot more to be commercial about ... at least that I had access to.

Joy liked Verona a lot. "Their ice cream was great, and the nylons we bought there were Awesome. It was a nice little town." She said she liked it much better than Venice when we were there - less bustle, cleaner, more small-town feel. "Yeah, I got my fan there and we got some yummy pizza - my favorite pizza we got in Italy was there." Indeed! A little bakery in a back alley with some good pizza. "And we only shared one piece."

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