On our first full day we climbed aboard a bus and took a little road trip. We went to Verona. The only thing I could remember about Verona was Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen from Verona.” After our arrival I realized “Letters to Juliette” would have been a good resource to prepare. I tried to remember the movie.
It turns out, Shakespeare probably never even visited the place where he wrote about two star crossed lovers. According to our guide for the day, there was an Italian legend or story similar to Romeo and Juliette long before Shakespeare picked up his pen that he may have borrowed his story from. There were two actual families with similar surnames that lived during the time of the earliest mention of the story. That’s why fictional Juliette has an actual balcony that modern tourists can visit. Whether or not a Juliette or other young girl in love ever stood on that balcony and called out for her Romeo is debatable. But I’m not going to complain about the community seizing upon an opportunity such as this. A statue of Juliette is in the courtyard under the balcony and apparently if you rub her breast it brings you luck. The statue now has a rather shiny chest because of all the people rubbing her while getting photos. For the record, I chose not to because I don’t want Juliette’s luck in love. She didn’t seem any luckier than me.
We walked around Verona a bit and saw the stadium that is now used for operatic performances. After spending the day in Verona we traveled back to our hotel for the night.
The next day we took a boat ride to Murano and visited a glass factory with an amazing demonstration of a glass blower creating a horse out of heated glass. I will never look at glass work again.
We then went to Saint Mark’s square and I thought of the “Italian Job.” The pillars looked smaller than I thought they would. I remembered a bit of this story from the book I read. Basically, the ancient city fathers stole the body of Saint Mark to up their patron saint. Poor Theodore was fired even in death to make way for the more prestigious Mark. Their pillars stand side by side but the square they stand guard in is called after Saint Mark. Poor Theodore.
The streets are little more than alleyways and if we had been in America they would have made me nervous. Shadowy. Small. A lot of people or worse, no one else. We walked following the signs to the Rialto.
A vendor selling roses approached us. Using much flattery he complimented my sister in law and gave her three roses. He made small talk and was congenial. Then he gave me three roses. All smiles and friendliness he gave the rest of his flowers to CC. Then he stuck out his hand to RH. RH only had a few cents on him at this time and gave him what he had. It was not enough. The vendor ended up taking all our flowers back and muttered, “ee-diot” a couple of times. Ee-diot in Italian translates to Idiot in English. We exited that alley street as quickly as possible and laughed about the first Italian word we learned.
We finally found the Rialto and took some pictures on the bridge. I was fascinated that there are stores built into the bridge. But I didn’t buy anything from any of those stores. Instead, we made our way back to the railway and ate dinner. I bought a jacket from a street vendor (not roses). After one last look before the sun set, we left the island. Probably for good since I don’t anticipate returning to Venice. Despite being built by outcasts I found no comfort in it.
The next day we climbed on another bus and headed for Como. Apparently its main claim to fame these days is George Clooney. No matter. I was in Italy!