Monday, June 23, 2008

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?

It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!

Romeo, Act II, scene ii

Verona, the perfect backdrop for Romeo and Juliet's love story. Verona, a UNESCO world heritage monument. Verona, a city that took my breath away.

We went to the beautiful city of Verona on Saturday, to see Tosca at the Arena! We headed there under blue skies and hot temperatures, Summer has finally arrived and we are enjoying every minute of it. Neither one of us three had been to an Opera before, and we were really excited. The tickets (5 of them) were a present from our dear friends Gloria and Juan, who were coming to Italy from the States, but had to cancel their trip at the last minute! What a gift! I still wish they had been able to make it though. I could have gone to Verona any other time!

We invited our friends Debby and Marcelo to join us and we enjoyed a day of fun, good food, and great opera. Marcelo was an excellent guide, showing us all the sites and telling us all about the history of the place. The Arena is the third largest in Italy, and even though what is left of its facade is a small piece, the structure left is stunning. To think that it was originally built in the year 30 AC! The inside of the Roman amphitheater is like it was 2000 years ago. I just can't get over the fact that history permeates everything in places like Verona.

We wandered through the medieval streets, arriving at open spaces, with magnificent architecture like the piazza delle erbe, which during Roman times used to be the forum -the center of the city. Today it is still a meeting place, with a market at its center. In the piazza there are several monuments, including the fountain of the madonna Verona, as well as the 14th C. Gardello tower, the baroque palazzo Marfei, and the Lamberti tower with its panoramic views of the city.

We also learned about curious things like this "bone". It hangs over one of the street passages. First, people speculated that it was a mammoth tusk, later they called it a dinosaur bone, but after some scientific tests it was discovered to be a whale bone! If this is not curious enough for you, legend has it that the bone will remain in place until one who has never said a lie in his life walks under it. Only then it will fall. May I mention that it has been in place for a century? Also one can visit Juliet's house (she was a fictional character, wasn't she?) There is a bronze statue of Juliet in the courtyard, and legend has it that if you stroke her right breast, good fortune will be vested upon you and/or fertility will be aplenty. You can see a picture of said statue on my first photo, on the lower left corner.

We walked to the Adige river, and we visited Ponte Pietra or the stone bridge, which was originally built in the first Century by the Romans, later it was destroyed by the Napoleonic forces, to be reconstructed with the original materials in its new location. The bridge connects the old town with the Roman theater (another exceptional site.) Not all was walking about in the heat, we also had time for an aperitivo, and some wonderful dinner near the Arena.

I have no pictures of the opera (Tosca) because we were not supposed to bring a camera to the performance. Well, I think we were the only ones not taking pictures at the performance. To tell you the truth, sometimes I miss really seeing things because I am limited by my camera's viewfinder. I have the images in my head, and the music in my ears. Absolutely gorgeous, an experience unlike any other. I loved the third act, but I guess that is predictable. Everything comes together beautifully in the third act, all the drama, the desperate solos of the main characters, the bare scenography, the almost full moon raising from behind the scenario... surreal!

What a gorgeous day!

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