"We are all pilgrims who seek Italy."
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A few days ago we drove up to Verona. We were advised by locals to make sure we made a trip there to see the Arena and Juliet's balcony, among other things.
When we arrived at the Arena, preparations were obviously being made for an event. The Arena gates were closed but all around the exterior there were sectioned-off areas containing knights, weapons, and other props awaiting their part in the story. A bit disappointing from a photographic standpoint to have all the stuff in front of the Arena but John enjoyed seeing the enormous medieval halberds, axes and spears.
Verona, which sits at the foot of the Lessini Mountains on the River Adige, was founded in the 1st Century B.C. This city has been through a lot and it is amazing that it remains as preserved as it is with its many monuments from the Medieval and Renaissance periods.
The history of Verona is heavy with wars and plagues, being occupied several times, and various eras of violence that only ended with its final liberation in 1945. Verona had a strong military presence during the whole duration of the Cold War. Verona's buildings suffered significant damage during World War II; however, great care was taken during the post-war reconstruction plan in 1946 to maintain the original heritage of the city and its structures. The present-day city contains many elements that represent its 2000 year history: the Roman period, Romanesque, Middle Ages and Renaissance, which have survived intact.
Today, Verona is a major tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are several annual fairs, shows, and operas. The Romeo and Juliet story brings in many tourists, also, in spite of being depressing and tragic. John and I quietly observed the insanity known as Juliet's balcony from a sweet spot, thanks to John. For a moment, we are on the ground with a gazillion other people but my eagle-eye son noticed a small sign that said there were more views upstairs. At first I thought it might be part of Juliet's house but it was a little store that is across the courtyard and you could go upstairs, for free, and look down on the courtyard, away from the crowds. I expected to find a line waiting upstairs but there were only two other people and they were leaving. We had the place to ourselves for quite a while and the photo of the balcony, looking down on the tourists, is from that spot. The people in the windows across the way are in Juliet's house and the man hanging out the window taking photos of people on the balcony remained there taking photos of everyone so it's likely they sell people photos of themselves on the balcony. I'm not sure as we did not care to go inside the house. As we left and attempted to get through the corridor that leads to and from the courtyard, I tried to get a photo of the insane amount of people and all the 'love letters' (graffiti) on the walls but I wasn't tall enough to get a shot overhead. My 6-foot-tall son stepped in to do the deed with my iPhone. Thank you, John!