One weekend my girlfriends and I decided that our Italian experience wouldn’t be complete without going to the city of Verona. There must be a reason why Shakespeare made it the backdrop to one of his most legendary plays. We would’ve stayed the whole weekend if we could but there was a train strike that would shut down all stations on that Saturday at noon through Sunday. So we were left with all day Friday to adventure the small city.
The train ride was a very cozy three hours long. I got time in to nap for the day and it was also the perfect opportunity for me to write my letter to Juliet. I remember watching the movie “Letters to Juliet” with Amanda Seyfried and dreaming about visiting the city to put my letter to the wall one day. And the day had finally come! But sitting on the train I stared at my notebook page and I could only get as far as “Dear Juliet,”. I was absolutely stumped on what kind of love advice to ask the love gods. I am only twenty years old and I guess I haven’t had enough experience in the subject of matter to really have questions that were beyond asking my mother what she would do. So then my letter became asking advice on what love is and how do you know if you love the right person?
We arrived in the small train station and took a cab to our hotel to check in. The concierge desk was very friendly and nice and gave us a map and showed us to how to bus around the city. They told us that the best way to see the city was by walking to the city center and so we set out to explore the city by foot that day. The first attraction we came across was the Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore, we didn’t stop by to see the inside because our main mission was to go to Juliet’s house. However, we did make a stop at the Ponte Scaligero because it was a beautiful brick bridge that almost looked like a castle. We walked over the bridge to see the breathtaking views beyond the river then turned back around to stay on track to Juliet’s house.
We ran into the Piazza delle Erbe and had to make a quick stop for lunch because we were dying of starvation, which I didn’t know would ever be a thing while living in Italy. After belinies and bruschetta we were less than a mile away from the house. My stomach had butterflies in it and I still couldn’t believe that I was in the city of romance. We continued down a brick alley then came across a small arched doorway that read “Casa di Giulietta” and I’m sure I had the biggest grin on my face once I red that. Going inside the corridor the walls were colorfully decorated in “love graffiti” that had millions of hearts and names written all over. Then in the small courtyard I looked all around and I could not find a wall with notes stuck to it anywhere. This was totally not like the movie! I kept my letter safe in my hands but my next order of business was to get a picture with the bronze statue of Juliet. It is said you will get luck in love if you touch her right breast, so how could I resist?! The girls and I were worried what to do with our letters and we thought it was a lost cause at that point. We bought our tickets into the house of Juliet and at the top of the stairs you can walk out on Juliet’s balcony for a Verona-worthy picture. After we got our romantic pictures we noticed that the house kept going. Inside there was a museum set up like Romeo and Juliet were real people and the story told by Shake sphere lived in that house. We continued through the museum and it kept going up flight of stairs until finally we struck the holy grail. There was a cute red mailbox for us to drop our letters in! And if that wasn’t modern enough, there were computers set up inside for you to email your letter to Juliet. I was so relieved to have found the mailbox and finally my mission was complete.
We still had daylight to burn so the girls and I continued towards the city center and we walked around the Arena area. It is said that the Arena is older than the Roman Colosseum, and that’s pretty ancient! We noticed all these banners of events going on in town and my girlfriend said, “Look! Romeo and Juliet is playing!” Had we really been that lucky to visit Verona at the time where they celebrating 100 years of Shakespeare? Why yes, yes we were. We found a little wifi to look up more information and we still had a little time before the play started. Not too far away from the Arena was the tomb of Juliet that was another must see of the area. It was the most beautiful burial place I had ever come across. I was already envisioning myself on my wedding day walking down the isle through the vine covered white column posts that was the entry way into the gardens. Down narrow stairs was a musty smelling room with a somber feel to it, and there also lay the tomb. It was ancient looking and the girls and I got the heeby jeebies just being down there. Back upstairs we took a stroll through the gardens and we even did a little fishing in the fountain. One of my girlfriends found a Russian coin in there that she decided to take as a keepsake. Luckily, if you can’t find the mailbox for your letter to Juliet at her house, there is another one at her tomb.
Once again we were starving and we thought it would be best to grab a bite before the play. We ate in an alley way off of the main tourist food places. Our pizzas hit the spot and we made our way across the river to the play. Our general admission ticket was under 15 euros, and we got a primo spot towards the top. Watching Romeo and Juliet in Italian and in Verona was the coolest experience ever. It was even interesting because it had a playful modern twist on the classic story that made it more interesting. They play lasted a good three hours and we didn’t get back to the hotel until 1 in the morning.
Verona is my most favorite city in Italy to this day. It is a quaint little town with friendly people and beautiful scenery. I wish I could’ve spent the whole weekend there to see more. The next morning I checked my steps counter on an app and it told me that I had walked over 13 miles exploring the city of Verona! Hello calf muscles. I am still waiting to hear back from Juliet and I looked up that it can often take six months to get a reply. I am hopeful I will get a response, but my letter has a long way to travel to Montana, and I hope by Christmas time I will have a little surprise waiting for me at home.