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As the Wind Blows

Week 34: Venice and Verona

ITALY | Monday, 28 November 2011 | Views [615]

Ah fair Verona where Shakespeare doth set his most belov’d of plays! I personally don’t understand why any story where the hero and the heroine die is considered a romantic story (more like a tragedy in my opinion) but romantic would be the word I’d use to describe the town. Its cobblestone streets, its ivy covered balconies, its piazza full of stalls, fountains and statues, it’s random Roman ruins being excavated at the typical Italian work rate, and of course for the tourists, a courtyard made famous as being Juliet’s balcony.
I don’t know if anyone’s heard of or seen that tweeny bopper film called Letters to Juliet, where people (mainly females I’m guessing) leave letters in the walls below the balcony to Juliet and she (or her little minions) answer them. It’s a bit like Santa for grow ups -  “Yes sweetheart of course Juliet is real and of course she’ll give you the perfect solution you want for your dilemma”. If you’re hoping to see letters in the walls and read some tragic love stories, you’ll be disappointed. Not only is there a security guard watching everyone, but I’m sorry to disappoint you but there’s no such thing as writing letters to Juliet. (Takes deep breathes and call the children’s helpline, the newspaper has just informed me that they’re equipped to answer such questions.)

After wandering around in narrow streets only bumping into impeccably dressed Italians (is there any other way to describe the way Italians dress?) I realised that although Verona was quite a small town I did not bump into my fellow tourists until it was time to hop on the bus. Then it occurred to me that I hadn’t bumped into any of them during any of the free time we had at any of our previous stops. It turned out that on this occasion that many of them had taken shelter from the rain to sample the local coffee, because that’s something that must be done in Italy. While others had come back with bags full of presents, just like Santa except none of the presents were for me :(

The same thing happened in Venice people seemed to spend their whole time shopping and eating. I had a feeling that in this case it could have been because they were afraid to get lost amongst all the windy narrow street of this fish-shaped city – it is literally shaped like a fish!! I threw caution to the wind and with my less than trusty map (shaped like a fish!!) I decided to wander around and get lost in Venice.

Venice really is amazing! Not just the possibility that you may turn the corner and fall into a canal, but extremely narrow streets that are no more than two meters wide in some cases, the number of shops, especially selling masks - I’d love to come during Masquerade and get even more disorientated, and the number of bridges over canals (mental note: never come to Venice with children of pram age or with people in wheelchairs – Venice is really not disability friendly), not to mention Gondolas and churches that are the size of several blocks of houses. And all this built on top of sand and water. Wow!

I did of course go on the quintessential gondola ride being serenaded by an Italian singer – if only this site had video upload because it’s was definitely a memorable experience gliding on gondolas through Venetian canals with the voice of an Italian singer echoing off the walls. And I also saw a quick demonstration of glass blowing, which is really quite impressive if not dangerous.

And like my fellow tourists I did succumb to souvenier shopping at a tiny shop down some narrow winding two-meter wide street which, although given my reasonably good sense of direction, would not be able to find again. But then I would need to because there were such a huge range of shops down many narrow winding streets that you really are spoilt for choice.

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