A Visit to Verona on Boxing Day


Piazza Bra and the Arena

We spent Christmas with Fidz’s family who live at the edge of the Appenines south of Parma. I love coming to this region as the food, landscape and weather are very different to Rome. I also find it interesting that the shapes and fillings of pasta differ slightly, depending on which mountain and even which side of it one happens to live. Fidz tells me (though I find it hard to believe) that the taste of the bread is different depending how high up the mountain you go as the quality of the water is different. I must admit that when you get over the mountains into Tuscany, the bread is actually quite different.

Piazza Erbe

After a marathon of eating over Christmas, we decided to go to Verona on Boxing Day as I had never been there. What a jewel of a city on a little spit of land jutting out into the river Adige. I found it so beautiful that I wouldnt mind living there! It is dominated by two major Piazzas, Piazza Bra dating back to the 1st century AD, where there is a wonderfully preserved Roman amphitheatre called the Arena in which concerts and opera productions are held over the summer, and Piazza Erbe where there is a market and which is lined with restaurants and cafes. We enjoyed an aperitivo there outdoors, on the evening of the 26th! The buildings in Verona are well preserved and there are several Romanesque/Gothic churches with beautiful frescoes which are fascinating to visit. Castelvecchio, a castle owned by the Scaligeri family in the 1300s has been modified by the architect Carlo Scarpa to house an art collection. Truly, a wonderful restoration.

Juliet’s Balcony

I had always thought that Romeo and Juliet, immortalized by Shakespeare, were fictional until our map referred to Juliet’s house as well as her tomb. Of course, I had to go and see both of these. Well, it turns out that Shakespeare’s play was based on an account by Luigi da Porto in the 15th century of a doomed love affair between the children of two warring families in the early 1300s, Giulietta of the Capuleti family and Romeo of the Montecchio family. Indeed Juliet’s reputed house is on Via Cappello from which the name Capuleti derives so maybe there is some truth to the tale. Anyway, the house has been restored and now contains the props from Franco Zefirelli’s 1978 movie, Romeo and Juliet.

Locks Attached to Door Grill in Courtyard of Juliet’s House

There were lots of tourists in the courtyard gazing up at the balcony and interestingly, a metal grill covering a doorway was chock-a-block with coloured locks. A popular attestation of undying love in Italy is to attach a lock to something and throw the key away so, for example, there are locks attached to the posts on the bridge at the Isola Tiberino in Rome with the keys likely tossed into the Tiber, the idea being that the two people are locked together forever.

Juliet’s Tomb

Juliet’s tomb is displayed in the crypt below the cloister of the monastery of San Francesco al Corso. Actually , a lovely and peaceful location with a fine art gallery in the original monastery. Whether the story is true or not, it made the trip to Verona more interesting.

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6 Responses to A Visit to Verona on Boxing Day

  1. Lynn Murray says:

    Hi Joyce,
    So wonderful to read your blog. Definitely you describe the ambience for where you are. Certainly I had no idea Italy was so antique… By that I mean so many old houses and beautiful ancient plazas with the history to go with them. Your descriptions make them come alive. I always feel so sad when I see the old brick homes in Toronto being taken down. This seems to be a common occurence these days. Keep up your writing it is fascinating. Love Lynn

    • joydaz says:

      Thanks Lynn. Interestingly, even in Rome, the ‘old’ has been replaced with the ‘new’ so Toronto is not alone in this. Its just that the ‘new’ in Rome is still ancient compared to North America. The historic centre of Rome is small and over the centuries, layers of buildings have arisen so that there are often Roman ruins under certain buildings and even roads. For example, excavations under the the 12 century Basilica of San Clemente revealed three more layers dating from the 1st century. Its really fascinating!

  2. Ann Holmes says:

    Hi Joyce,
    Finally I have posted this here. Happy New Year. Curious about this “tradition” I wonder if other lock sites have been spotted.
    There are locks with couple’s initials on them left locked to the Millennium Bridge in London which goes from the Tate Modern over to St Paul’s. I saw them again on a bridge over the Rideau Canal in Ottawa last summer. Guess it is an international phenomenon!
    Ireland is full of layers too. It has an embarrassment of riches – and not enough public service funding to explore them all. Some cousins have ruins in/under their front field. They are not allowed to dig but there has been no action to reveal the site by Public Works!
    Did you manage to meet up with Mary?

    • joydaz says:

      Hi Anne
      Thanks for the info. I must look out for these locks in other places now that I know the symbolism behind it. Yes we did meet up with Mary and Janet and a fun evening was had by all!

  3. Josephine Howard Mannion says:

    Hi Joyce, your blog is inspiring!! Rory just gave me your link. So I’ll be following. I remember you with affection from our youth in Dublin. Never knew we had the Rory connection!! Great big hugs. love Jo

    • joydaz says:

      Hi Jo
      My goodness, glad to hear from you after all these years! I’m in India at the moment but will send you a personal message when I get a chance.

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