As a theatre major, I have a huge obsession with the most amazing playwright of all time: William Shakespeare. Back in the states I have every play he wrote and I have read them all at least once. However, there is one copy that sits on my shelf battered, highlighted, torn, but loved: Romeo and Juliet. It is hands down my favorite of all time. Therefore, I knew that sometime during my stay in Bologna this year that I needed to go to Verona.
I did a solo day excursion to Verona on a Friday. The first thing on my list was La Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s House). It is a house in via Cappello that was actually owned by a family with the last name, Capuleti (or Capulet in English). However, I got a little sidetracked. The street that I had taken to walk into the city led me to Piazza Bra. Verona, like Rome, has an arena. Well in Roma it’s called the Il Colosseo, but the people of Verona just refer to theirs as an arena. They even had Roman soldiers and gladiators outside the arena.
I’ve learned during my time in Italy that they love to have fun colored houses. Verona is no exception to that rule. It has houses painted mint green and churches that are bright yellow. The best part was that the city was near empty. Tourist season had finally come to an end in Italy. I’m not saying it was a ghost town, but my recommendation to anyone traveling in Europe is to see major tourist attractions (such as Verona) during the off-season. You get a much more personal connection to the city and as a bonus, there aren’t any huge crowds to battle.
I made sure to at least catch a glimpse of everything. Some things I literally only caught a glimpse of due to the fog. However, everything was still gorgeous and beautiful. I got to see Castelvecchio (The Castle in Verona), Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza dei Signori, San Fermo Maggiore, Arche Scaligere (where they used to chain criminals up – like the stocks), San Anastasia, and of course Il Duomo. Yes, there is more than one Duomo on Italy. There is one in Florence, Milano, Verona, etc.
Verona was also the site of one of my first American encounters. I stopped in a candy store just for kicks to see what they had and a teenage girl ran into me and quickly apologized in English. I automatically responded with niente. I hadn’t even realized that she was speaking English. That fact hit me about a minute later when her mother was telling her to help her pick something for her brother. I quickly asked where they were from. The mother nearly smothered me, she was so happy that I was American. They had spent the past month in Verona and had yet to meet another American and they were leaving the next morning. They were so sweet and asked me about how my study abroad experience was going. When I told them I was a theatre major, they said that I should see every Shakespeare city. They also pointed me in the direction of the William Shakespeare plaque Verona has.
It’s located on a wall of the city, along with the Bard’s bust. The plaque says, “‘There is no world without Verona walls, but puratory, torture, hell itself. Hence banished is banish’d from the world, and world’s exile is death…’ Romeo e Giulietta, Atto III, Scena III”. It also contained the Italian translation of the quote. I literally stood there for about two minutes like a complete weirdo, just standing and staring at the plaque. Smiling like an idiot and snapping a ton of pictures probably didn’t help.
This leads me to Casa Giulietta. I loved it there. I even bought a silly little statue of Romeo and Juliet kissing. You walk through a tunnel into a courtyard. In the courtyard is a statue of Juliet; it is said that touching her breast is good luck. There is a balcony and a house that you can tour, but I was more entranced with the graffiti tunnel. The tunnel leading to the courtyard is plastered with hearts, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Amore sempre”, “I love you” in a dozen languages, and of course couples who came to see Juliet and wrote their initials on the wall. All in all, Verona was a complete and total success in my book.