31. Verona, Italy
(Actual Trip Date: November 12-13, 2010)
The train ride to Verona consisted of laughter, boisterously loud girls, creepy men inquiring about our oriental ethnicity, and beautiful running rivers with the colors equivalent to the pale cerulean hue Switzerland’s waters awed me with. The trees had lost their leaves leaving them naked against the cold that settled in, brittle on top of a white frost on the ground, giving any passerby the illusion of snow.
Verona is a city in Italy that is mainly know for Juliet’s House, now more popularized by the movie: Juliet’s Letters starring Amanda Seyfried, which we most definitely watched the night we stayed at our lovely bed and breakfast.
The city is nothing like how I imagined it. After a rather daunting experience in Pisa, Italy where it was spooky around town at night and the neighborhoods gave off a dangerous vibe, Verona was not like that at all despite my initial expectations.
Verona was beautiful and lively at night, obviously a city for the rather wealthy. The plaza was vast with it’s own version of the Colosseum nestled in the corner beyond an opening surrounded by trees and a fountain, lighting up the grounds around it. Families and couples walked hand and hand, peering into shop windows where the latest fashions were on display. Furthermore, the city was a bonus for us since we finally found gelato. Apparently gelato was a seasonal thing and we had quite the trouble trying to find it in Cinque Terre.
When the daytime arrived, I found Verona was actually more beautiful by night, but the overhead clouds puffed with oncoming rain could’ve been why the city looked damp. Nonetheless, we wandered around seeing Juliet’s House (which is really nothing special besides dropping off a letter for Juliet) and poking through markets selling some of the prettiest scarves I’ve ever seen.
But despite the clouds, there were still parts of town that reminded me why I initially thought the city was pleasing upon the eyes. Trees hidden away tucked near bridges dropped their leaves upon the ground leaving blankets of bright gold shaped into a fan. Picking up the recognizable leaf I had only seen in textbooks before, my inner bio nerd squealed inside of me. I realized that I was holding the ‘maidenhair leaf’ which is part of the Gingko species (or at least I hope I was). After slaving away memorizing that biology lab textbook for a whole semester my freshmen year and now standing thousands of miles away from the place where I studied those leaves, I found myself laughing in glee. I always thought my bio knowledge was rather useless.
Walking the path to Juliet’s grave, I had gasped seeing the statue of two butterflies — the symbols of China’s Romeo and Juliet which I had learned from a show during my travels to the eastern Asian country. Etched to perfection in smooth marble, cementing in time the lovers’ deep expression and boundless wings, the statue stood, awakening an emotion inside of me I haven’t felt shamefully for a while.
I’m moved that another country would honor another country’s Romeo and Juliet’s story. The creation of the statue reminds me of how far we’ve come in the world towards international unity and harmony. We’ve still got a very long way to go, and we might probably never reach that end, but these little nods and acknowledgments to other cultures mean something. Something small but heart-warming.
And as my tattered brown boots shuffle through dark hues of green leaves and rain-drenched cobblestone and large yellow fan-like leaves twirl to the ground around me, I can see the red lanterns of China whistling softly against the hints of summer breezes before I’m hit with the gusty cold winds of the Italian city ruffling my scarf.
I’m suddenly humbled by all of the traveling opportunities that have been set before me to open my eyes a tad bit more.
Photos taken by a good friend.