Day 14 of 59
Friday July 13, 2018
Hmmm. Is it a coincidence that 14 is my favourite number and this has been my favourite day so far? Is it also a coincidence that Friday the 13th holds a special place in my heart because the Handsome Man and I got engaged on a Friday the 13th (30 years ago!)?
Jetlag continues to haunt us, so we had a late start to today. It was probably better in the end because the opera goes until just after midnight! (I know… so late! 😉 )
We started our excellent day with a little shopping. Steve had seen an Italian shirt store that we needed to go back to today. We narrowed it down to only one shirt (backpack constrictions) and Steve is the proud new owner of a beautiful new Italian shirt 🙂
Don’t worry… you’ll see it later in the opera pictures.
After this we made a pit stop back at Casa de Guillietta (Juliet’s House). This is the original home of the Cappelletti family on which Shakespeare’s Juliet was based. According to Verona Guidebook Propaganda the actual Romeo and Juliet story took place in 1303. In a nutshell…they fall in love… are forbidden to be together… Romeo is banished…Juliet is forced to marry someone she doesn’t want… takes narcotic to make her appear dead for 40 hours… conspirator is supposed to tell Romeo but doesn’t… Romeo comes back to find her… thinks she’s dead… is so devastated he kills himself…she wakes up, is also devastated and kills herself. Sound familiar? Somehow, even though I studied Romeo and Juliet in high school, the fact that this play was based on a real event escaped me. See you learn something new every day. I did a bit of further reading and it seems that there are many theories on where the story actually originated, so who knows. What is clear, is that this version, is good for Veronese tourism 🙂
Anyway, the house was remodeled in the last century to recreate the Renaissance setting. It is now overwhelmed with tourists trying to get lucky in love. I’m personally not sure that the story of Romeo and Juliet is bringing the kind of luck these people are looking for!
To the right of the photo you see Juliet’s balcony. Famous because this is where they plotted to be together. In the back you can see Juliet’s statue. Legend holds that if you touch her right breast you will be lucky in love.
What first drew me to Verona was the movie “Letters from Juliet”. In this movie (which was fiction by the way) is where I first learned that people come to Verona and leave letters for Juliet to help them with their love problems. There has been a group of volunteers for over 70 years, that responds to these letters. People use to leave the letters stuck to Juliet’s wall with gum. This was wrecking the wall so they asked people to put the letters in a mailbox instead.
This is the only mailbox I could find… but we didn’t pay to go in the house… so maybe there is one in there?
The entrance way into the courtyard is covered with graffiti where I guess people think that writing their names will bring good luck to their love life? I thought it was interesting to see that many people had written on band aids to stick them to the wall. There were a few actual letters, which I found interesting to read.
I noticed most of them were dated fairly recently, so I think they clear off the wall fairly regularly. It speaks to how many people are actually leaving some sort of writing here. We did not write on the wall… we’re already lucky enough in love 🙂
After this, Steve was feeling like he needed a little gelato. This was his not-so-subtle hint 🙂
We stopped for some gelato and people watching near my favourite piazza, Piazza del Erbe.
Next we went home for a bit and got ready for the main event… the reason we came to Verona… to see the opera in the Arena.
We bought tickets before we came to Italy, because I wanted to make sure we could get tickets. That being said we did notice there were a few empty seats. There are three levels of seats you can buy. Actual seats on the floor (most expensive), actual seats on the steps (medium priced) and just sitting right on the stone steps (least expensive). We went for the medium priced seats because I felt like sitting for three hours with someone’s feet in my back might not be comfortable 🙂
We arrived early so we could take some photos before it started, because they are pretty clear that there are to be NO photos or recording during the opera. That being said, this did not seem to stop people.
Here is Steve in his new fancy shirt just outside the arena.
And here we are together… very excited to go in! You can tell I’m excited because I actually wore my glasses so I could see what was happening 🙂
We were both so thrilled with the idea of seeing an Italian opera in an outdoor arena that was built in 30 AD (Jessica Hermann… I’m touching something super old!) The arena originally held crowds of up to 30 000 people, but is now limited to 15 000 people for safety reasons.
There is a tradition of having all patrons having a lit candle at the start of the opera. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lighter… someone will share their flame with you.
Steve took a video before the opera started to show the scope of the arena.
Steve took another photo during the first of the two intermissions so you could see the arena in the dark. It got dark shortly after the opera started.
Since there were no photos during the opera, Steve waited until the final applause before snapping a photo. You can see the amazing set and costumes. The cast was huge. It sounded amazing when they were all singing together. You can also see a bit of the orchestra pit in the front. What you can’t see to the left of the picture is a screen that subtitled the opera in Italian and English. I found this very helpful because I didn’t know the storyline. I also found it interesting because I learned a few new Italian words… my favourite being “principessa”!
Steve also took a short video during the applause.
It was just after midnight and we hadn’t eaten dinner yet! We thought we’d be able to go to one of the restaurants just outside the arena, but they seemed to be serving only drinks. We walked a few minutes just outside the historical centre walls and found a McDonald’s. Phew! Crisis averted 🙂
After a quick dinner we started walking back home, but made another pit stop for gelato. I guess it doesn’t technically count as more than one a day because it is after midnight, right? 🙂
One other interesting thing we saw as we were walking back to our apartment was a bunch of young people sitting on a large set of stairs drinking. It took us a minute to figure it out but then we realized there was a bar across the street… about the size of a 10X15 room. They’d get their drinks inside and then just lounge around in the streets 🙂
That’s the bar just to the left of the umbrella.
And across the street are the ever popular “drinking stairs”. 🙂
And so ends my favourite day of our trip so far 🙂