Verona, Italy
45° 27' N 11° 0' E
Jul 06, 2009 12:15
Distance 104km

Text written in: English

Little Rome

Verona. Monday, July 6th.

I was determined to exit Venice the same way as I came in, carrying my own luggage to the station (but wiser and more mindful of the bridges, the rat's nest of alleys, and armed with the inevitable knowledge that I would get lost).  Eleven bridges later, I found the train station (two more than the minimum possible).  Once there, the first decision was whether to take the milk run to Verona for 6.15 Euros, or the express train for 17 Euros.  The express got you in 20 minutes earlier.  I'll let you guess which mode I selected.


Verona has been described as a mini-Rome.  With this pre-conceived and prejudiced idea in my mind, I headed out.  But note, being compared to Rome is a supreme compliment.  And to my positive relief, it is quite similar to Rome.  It has a river winding  through it (Adige), several bridges, numerous churches, a better colosseum, plazas, hills to climb and get views from, cobbled alleys and surprising sites around each corner.  Reasonably, it is not quite as excellent, as there is only one Vatican City  (St. Peter's Square/Basilica and Vatican Museum), and the strut of the Roman men and women as they walk is a unique and unforgettable sight. 


What Verona has that defines it is their Arena (colosseum).  Their colosseum was built by Caesar Augustus around 0 AD, and is the third largest in the world.  It can seat 30,000 and to this day is used for operatic performances.  When I was there it was being set up for a Verdi opera.  The second famous feature of Verona is Romeo and Juliet, as in Shakespeare is set here (took an Englishmen to put it on the map).  There are three R&J points in Verona; the balcony where Romeo did his calling to Juliet, Romeo's home, and Juliet's tomb.  The balcony site  was overflowing with visitors, with a material bias of women.  There is a statue of Juliet, where, if you pose with your hand on her right breast, it is supposed to bring you a fine lover.  Watched countless people do the required pose, but there was no passion or joy in their face, just a “must do/was I smiling?” look on their faces.   Of course, I also did the pose, but at least the thought of a lover (Jane) was central to my mind.  Next, I sought out Romeo's home.  It was on a deserted street, with a simple marble  plaque on the wall.  No one was there, there were not even shops or vendors there to add some sense of importance or completeness to his place.  Go figure, without Romeo Juliet was a waste of time, last time I checked it takes two to tango.  If the women were looking for a Romeo, your odds are better at his place then her's.  To complete the cycle found Juliet's tomb, much more elaborate, at least there was signage but no crowds (but it was later in the afternoon).  I have not read the pla,y but it is the same old boy meets girl, things get messed up, sad ending squared story.  At least in a Jackie Collins there is some thoughtful stimulation and suspense. 


As is my ritual every day, I check my email and speak to Jane on MSN.  The idea of Hong Kong and teaching there had peaked and died a sad goodbye.  No news is not good news.  Over the weekend, I had sent an email to one of the interviewers, as I knew him from almost twenty years ago at UBC asking him for an update.  BUT, there is / was, a semi-official offer to teach at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.  What joy, relief, gratitude, calm, peace, wonder and prayerful awe filled me.  Jane and I had prayed long, hard, deeply and completely for this outcome, and there it was.  Our prayers were answered: we now had a home/location to know we could call home.  Since April, we had been anxious about where we would work.  Other than knowing it would not be at the Higher Colleges of Technology in the Emirates, and hoping that it would be at something a little more like a university, we had no clear idea of where that would be.  This one, rather central piece to our marriage was missing, and now that part of the puzzle was completed, we could make plans.  But again, I say Praise the Lord!!  And Jane, I appreciate the way you stood by your man when the times were difficult.


What a wonderful way to end the day.  Oh, walked about 20K.

Photos / videos of "Little Rome":

Heading out of Venice: found my way out without too much difficulty, but lots of bridges of course. Forget the name of the bridge, but anyone walking to the Plaza must cross this bridge.  And so, I made my way out of the island city of Venice.  Likely will be back again, but with Jane next time. Verona likes to see itself as a mini-Rome, complete with lots of bridges, statues, ruins and restored old buildings. An example of a restored building and monument in the town central square. View across the river that cuts through the city.  Climbed to the top of the opposite hill, had a grand view. Views from the top of the hill across from the developed part of the city. Another view from the top of the hill. And one last view. Statue of Juliet (as in Shakespeare).  Place was swarming with tourists - this was a rare moment when the crowd was quiet (for like 5 seconds).  Notice the polished right breast. Courtyard of the home where Juliet lived and Romeo came to court her.  See balcony on the right, it is from here that she listened to Romeo's petitions.  Note, Juliet was only 14 +/- 1, so a little young for a serious suitor. Tourist pose.  There was a queue for this shot.  Holding the right breast is supposed to bring a proper lover into your life; worked for me.  Strange seeing a wife having a husband take a photo of his wife in this pose (or vice versa). The famous balcony.  Cost 10 euros to go to the balcony and get your shot of romantic bliss.  I passed up this opportunity. Romeo's place.  About a kilometre away and no crowds.  Few even knew where it was.  Right next door was a place selling Coke and potato chips. Some lines from R & J attesting to the fact this was Romeo's pad.  Julie's place was next to his favourite pub and she used to flirt with all the local boys on their way home. The Colosseum in Verona.  This colosseum is still used; every summer there are several Verdi operas performed in it.  Most of this structure, built in Roman times, is still in good shape. Note how carefully the stone has been carved and fitted together. Hard seats, OK 2000 years ago, but not today. The corridors inside the colosseum.  Everything is still in working order. Outside of the colosseum.  So much better shape than the one in Rome.  Best shape of any of the arenas I have seen in Rome, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordon, Lebanon, or Turkey. Site of Juliet's tomb.  I visited all three of the R&J spots in the city and I have never learned the soapy play. Shakespeare's text on J's tomb site.