Monday, April 16, 2018

Verona, Italy, City of Romeo and Juliet, Part One




While my husband and I were visiting relatives in Genoa, Italy, last summer we decided to take a few local overnight trips by train. Our first stop was beautiful Verona, located in the Veneto region of Italy. Verona has at its center a medieval old town, called the Centro Storico, that lies between the meandering Adige River.


Verona's Arena di Verona is located in the Centro Storico by Piazza Bra. It was built by the Romans in the first century and is still in active use, mainly for opera productions.  It is one of the best preserved ancient structures of its kind and once held 30,000 spectators in its confines. In modern times 15,000 people are admitted for performances for security reasons. Unfortunately, we did not visit on an opera day, but we were fortunate to be able to obtain free tickets for a musical event that was taking place later that evening--more about that event in my next blog post.


The round façade of the building was originally composed of white and pink limestone from Valpolicella, but a major earthquake in 1117 almost completely destroyed the structure's outer ring, and only a small portion of that decorative ring still stands. It is a marvel to think about the many centuries the arena has been in use and all it has seen!


Verona has become famous for being the setting of Shakespeare’s play "Romeo and Juliet," written in 1597. Although the star-crossed lovers are fictional characters, their story has attracted visitors to Verona for centuries. In an effort to satisfy those seeking a place to dream about their legend. the city of Verona has promoted "Juliet's House" (Casa di Giulietta) and "Juliet's Tomb"  (Tomba di Giulietta) as attractions. The house, located along the Via Cappello, at one time belonged to the Dal Capello family, commonly known as the Cappelletti. This was so similar to the name of Juliet's family, the Capulets, that the house became her family home in everyone's imagination, even though the balcony was not added until the 20th century!  The inscription seen in the collage above lies on top of a corridor that leads to the house's courtyard.  It translates as: "This was the house of the Capulets. for whom so many hearts wept and the poets sang."

Please click on to enlarge

When I visited Verona in the 70's on my high school trip, the Juliet's House courtyard was totally empty and serene--you can read about that experience and see my 1970's photos here.  That romantic serenity was nowhere to be found on this visit in the summer of 2017! I was saddened to see it now had almost a circus atmosphere.  The walls of the corridor leading into the house courtyard were full of notes and band-aids. proclaiming lost love or the desire for love. The tourist crowds were so thick in the courtyard it was difficult to find a place to stand. Admission to the courtyard is free, but now tours of the house have an admission and many visitors stand on the balcony to have their photos taken.


Even the bronze statue of Juliet in the courtyard, sculpted by Nereo Costantini, shows how many tourists reach up to touch and rub her for photos, as the metal is shiny in those areas. It took awhile for me to get a photo of her, and the balcony, without people in it!  Even though Julietta's House is definitely an overblown tourist attraction, it was still fun for me to see it again so many years later.


I decided that I should also see "Juliet's Tomb" on this visit to Verona since I did not see it on my first visit to the city. It was quite a walk from the house, but a pleasant one.  We had to pass through the walls of the city which themselves were picturesque.


It is inside the former monastery of San Francesco al Corso, located on the Via del Pontiere, which has been indicated as the place where the final events of the Romeo and Juliet tragedy took place. At the end of the thirteenth century, the period in which it is believed that the story might have happened, San Francesco al Corso was the only Franciscan monastery outside Verona city walls. The old monastery has now been transformed into a museum: the Museum of Frescoes G.B. Cavalcaselle.

Please click on to enlarge 

The Romeo and Juliet story is highlighted throughout the museum grounds.


In a vaulted room inside the dark crypt under the church of San Francesco al Corso, lays an empty, simple sarcophagus made of red Verona marble. It is believed to be Juliet's grave.


Thankfully, the room in which the sarcophagus rests was empty and solemn, and it was easy in this environment to imagine the story of the star-crossed lovers being true. 


The underground room also contains tombstones on the floor where monks were buried centuries ago.




More views of the tomb

Please click on to enlarge to read.

The museum's explanation placard in the photo above as to how this tomb became associated with Juliet.


Beautiful Verona, as well as other Italian locations, were much a part of Shakespeare imagination. A third of his plays take place wholly or partially in Italy. There is much speculation as to why he used Italy as a location, but I'd like to think that it was a fascination with a country that had a rich and passionate history as well as monumental beauty and allure.

In my next blog post, I'll show more sights in Verona, as well as the special event we attended in the Verona Arena. There is much more to see!

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36 comments:

Margaret Adamson said...

WOW what a trip and all that history and architecture to see. Wonderful and have a great week ahead.

podso said...

So interesting to read and view the photos. It's nice you were able to go back and see it again after all these years, in spite of the changes. I used to live in a town named Verona, in the northeast (US).

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

We took the train there also. It was a fun visit until a downpour!

Maggie said...

So pleased that you shared your visit to Verona with the MM crowd this week, what a truly wonderful trip you had. It would seem that Juliet's house is nothing but a tourist trap these days however her tomb is still a place of quiet solitude and beauty. I really enjoyed our tour today.

Tom said...

...Pat, what a gorgeous place to visit! Thanks for taking me along.

photodoug said...

Pat, classic architecture. Thanks for sharing.

Gillena Cox said...

Gorgeous mosaics

Happy Monday

much love...

Su-sieee! Mac said...

An enjoyable post, thank you! I wonder how many people get confused and think Romeo and Juliet were actual people, after visiting these attractions. Reading about some Juliet's tomb was starting to confuse me. lol
The View from the Top of the Ladder

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

Oh Pat, isn't Verona romantic? It's lovely to return by way of your photos. We went there ten years ago in the fall and it was not crowded either. I'll have to get our album out and revisit along with you! ♥

Jeanie said...

Wow, Pat! I will certainly look forward to more of Verona! I love the statue of Juliet. And the architecture is splendid. I wonder if Shakespeare actually traveled to Verona, given that it is featured in R&J, Two Gentlemen of Verona and who knows what all else? I need to investigate!

Linda W. said...

So much history! Loved all the photos of the Romeo and Juliet attractions.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

It's absolutely beautiful to look at through your "crowdless" photos anyway -- and even if it is all fiction, after all so was the famous play, and I don't blame Verona for taking advantage of everyone's love for it.

Lydia C. Lee said...

Bandaids??? How odd....I guess it was all they had.

Anonymous said...

Sad when tourists cannot appreciate and treasure art. Wow, these city walls are beautiful! Also love the pics of the open air theater - the arches do it for me! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences in Verona with All Seasons, Pat! Have a beautiful week:)

Lorrie said...

It's too bad all the crowds disturbed the atmosphere of Juliet's house, but still, what a wonderful visit. I've long pondered Shakespeare's fascination with his Italian settings; they do make for memorable plays. Thank you for sharing this visit with us.

Linda said...

Thanks for the pictures of these historic sites. I love the Juliet statue.

NC Sue said...

Absolutely fascinating! What an intriguing place.
Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2018/04/titanic-movie-costumes-on-display-at.html

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

Verona is one city I would love to visit! I figure I have a lifetime of trips to Italy before I see everything. my favorite country!

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Lovely blue skies over Verona! Thanks for linking to Blue Monday!

ellen b. said...

I'm so behind in visiting but soon I'll be back fresh when all this listing, selling and moving is behind us. Blessings!

Victoria Estep said...

What a wonderful visit. I look forward to visiting Italy myself at some point.

Kay L. Davies said...

How wonderful to see Verona, and I think I can understand something of Shakespeare's fascination with Italy. We've seen something of Italy, but never Verona. Isn't it a shame about the crowds, and the tourists who insist upon touching things? Some tourists seem to think they are entitled, themselves, while others aren't!
Kay
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Angie said...

The first picture is my favorite, with the fascinating contrast between modern and ancient structures!

It seems everywhere gets more popular and crowded these days ... generally, people have more money to travel and the Internet has widely publicized areas that otherwise might go un-noticed.

Nevertheless, it holds a romanticism that is hard to beat, which I am sure contributed to Shakespeare's frequent choice of setting!

Lady Fi said...

Verona is so fabulous - and romantic!

Craft Candidate - Kahden talon väkeä said...

Never been to Italy so it was nice to look at your photos. Should plan a trip there soon. :) https://kahdentalonvakea.blogspot.fi/

Wandering Wren said...

What an amazing High School trip - were you studying Romeo and Juliet or Shakespeare? That would have made his works so meaningful. I am impressed with your photos without the crowds, too many tourists are becoming a problem the world over. I can imagine everyone wanting their Juliet moment though, I would :)
This is a lovely post, Pat.
Wren x

Ramona Demian said...

Beautiful city! I don't like those tourists who touch everything either but, of course, we can't blame people for wanting to visit places. After all, we are doing the exact same thing. :)

Cathy Keller said...

You always have such informative post with wonderful photos and tantalizing information! Thank you, again!

Lowcarb team member said...

Such wonderful history and architecture, another lovely post and so informative - it really makes a good read.
Thank you.

All the best Jan

Jim said...

I loved visiting Verona.

Michelle said...

Such a meaningful place for so many. Thank you for linking up!

Pietro Brosio said...

Great views of Verona, very nice and informative post.
Many greetings!

Spare Parts and Pics said...

What a great tour! Thanks for taking us along and sharing the experience. Love all the incredible history and architecture!

italiafinlandia said...

Thanks for the clear and precise description of my hometown!
Waiting for part two...
Nice to see it through a foreigner's eyes!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

A fabulous place to wander and explore. Great post - thanks for sharing!

indah nuria Savitri said...

I remember the statue! And people lining up to take pictures LOL..but I'm so happy seeing your post, remind me of my days traveling around Europe and enjoying every single city we visited!