Friday, August 28, 2015

Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? (Our trip to Verona)

Last weekend we visited Verona, a city made famous in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet". While much of the city is devoted to milking this famous work, the city itself has 2,000 years of history, enough to make it shine in its own right.

Our trip began with something I've always dreamed of doing, attending an opera! We saw "Romeo and Juliet" at the world-famous Roman Arena. It is the third-largest amphitheater in Italy and dates back to the first century A.D. While once home to bloody gladiator fights, it now houses the popular outdoor summer opera festival. Attending was magical. Your literally watching the opera sitting under the summer night stars. And the singers' voices were amazing! They have no mics, yet you could hear them throughout the entire stadium.

On a funny sidenote, Billy learned the hard way to pay attention to dress codes. Because our seats were in the stall, formal wear was suggested. Billy wore shorts, and we were turned away at the gate. He ended up having to buy a pair of Italian pants at the last-minute to get in. For those of you who don't know, Italians typically like very, um, snug pants. He was a trooper and hung in there the entire four-hour show in pants so tight he could hardly breathe.

I can't really say anything, though. I ended up wearing flip-flops! Yikes! When I went to put on my heels for the opera, which was the first time I've needed them in two months, I discovered something many pregnant women eventually realize; their feet have grown. There was no way my swollen feet were fitting into those cute high-heels. The flip-flops sufficed, and I just tried to hide my feet the best I could. :)

The next day we toured the actual city of Verona, which we feel is pretty under-rated. It's a great Italian city full of beautiful places and a lot less crowds. Of course, we had to check-out the "House of Juliet". This famous courtyard and balcony attract thousands of tourists looking for love. Some believe Shakespeare's love story was actually based on real-life characters, and this was the real Juliet's home; others, not so much. Regardless, it was fun to see. We even got to see a real-life proposal happen!

Some other famous sites we saw included the Porta Bosari, the original main entrance to the city. We also spotted the statue of Dante Alighiere, a famous poet who once resided in the city as well as the tombs of the Scaligeri Family, once powerful rulers of Verona.

The next day we took a side-trip to an area not really mentioned a lot, Cagno. Talk about a gorgeous area! It's full of apple vineyards, pastures, mountains, and lakes. For example, this was the view from our hotel room!

While in the area, we visited a monastery as well as a very authentic castle, complete with its original furniture. Good stuff!

The most unexpected part of the trip, though, was ordering a salad, and getting served, yes, dandelions. And no, I did not eat them.

This weekend we're off to another adventure, and I'll be sure to tell you all about it next week. Until then, Ciao!

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