Ciao, Verona! We left Milan at nine today, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to sit on a bus for three hours. It was great opportunity to catch up on sleep and rest my tired feet. Verona welcomed us with rainy skies and cold weather which none of us really packed for. After we checked into our new hotel, Hotel San Luca, a friend and I went across the street to the closest cafe we could find for lunch. Then, it was time for our walking tour, for which the weather thankfully cleared up. Our guide took us through the streets and showed us some cool areas in the city. It was very useful to get our bearings and see where we might want to shop and eat. We went inside the Arena, which is where big events for the entire city took place. At the time, the Arena could fit 23,000 people, and Verona’s population was only 20,000. It was made to fit everyone, and attendance was free. Our guide explained it was used as political propaganda by the rulers to create a good public image. Nowadays, I don’t think slaughtering criminals and fighters publicly is the best way to go about PR. It was called the Arena because of the sand on the floor of the huge space, which was created to soak up the slaughtered victim’s blood. It’s crazy to realize how little regard for life people had many centuries ago. Now, in the United States, there is great debate over the death penalty for criminals. Many are uneasy over administering lethal injections to murderers after their final meal of choice on death row. When the Arena was in use, however, criminals would be brought in the center to be slaughtered publicly via sword. Even in the case of the fights in the Arena, the loser’s fate of life or death would be decided by the crowd. Thumbs up: kill him. Thumbs down: swords down and he lives. Life is definitely considered more sacred today.
We also went to Juliet’s house of the Cappuletti family. I was super excited for this because I had watched the movie “Letters to Juliet” before we left. The courtyard of the house was super crowded with tourists waiting to rub Juliet’s statue’s right breast for good luck. A lot of us shoved through the crowds to rub the statue and have our picture taken. I did too because I figured I could use all the good luck I can get. The walls of the entrance were incredible. Lovers from all over the world had written their names or messages on the walls. It was really nice to see something focusing on all the love in the world in a time in which the hate can sometimes feel overwhelming.
For dinner, we went to Bignoi, a to-go pasta place that our guide recommended. It was delicious and made with noodles fatter than spaghetti that are native to Verona. The idea of to-go pasta is so foreign to everyone, but it was actually a super easy and good meal that didn’t break the bank. I can’t wait for another lovely day in Verona!