Friday, November 18, 2011

Road Trip, Day II -- Verona, Italy

After a wonderful breakfast at our hotel in Schwangau, we left Germany and drove south through Austria towards Italy.

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I wish I hadn't been driving because the scenery was truly breathtaking: winding roads through the Alps, blue skies with perfect views of the snow-capped peaks.  Incredible.

As we got further south, the sky darkened, the mist gathered and, by the time we reached Italy, it was pouring.   By then we'd swapped drivers and I could snap a couple of photos of the Dolomites.

Beautiful, especially with the mist hanging about, but not nearly as impressive as the Austrian Alps.

Finally, we reached our destination, Verona, Italy, where we planned to spend a couple of hours before heading off to Vicenza to visit some friends.

Verona has some Roman ruins, like this impressive arena:

Guess who's hiding behind that umbrella?

That's right:  Will!  But I got him in this photo.
But it's most famous for being the setting of Shakespeare's tragedy, Romeo and Juliet.  Supposedly the Montague and Capulet families (or their real-life inspirations) lived here and you can even visit their homes.

This is Juliet's famous balcony, underneath which Romeo professed his eternal love:

And a statue of Juliet herself:

Supposedly, rubbing her right breast brings you good luck.  Which explains why it's so shiny.

Though most of Verona was fairly quiet, Juliet's house was mobbed with tourists.  Even stranger, as we entered the courtyard to her house, we noticed this wall stuck with thousands of globs of dried up chewing gum.

Apparently, you're supposed to write a love note and stick it to the wall somehow and most people seem to have resorted to gum.  Ick.  Kate stuck on a little note to her friend Ryan, with whom she's planning to marry and have 10 children.  When she's much, much older, I hope.

There were also metal gates covered with padlocks left behind by couples to symbolize their eternal love.

A little nicer than chewing gum, right?

An explanation of the "locks of love" here.
More on Juliet's house here.

Kate was extremely interested in the story of Romeo and Juliet, which she'd never heard except as it relates to the recent animated film, Gnomeo and Juliet, one of her favorites.  This story is exactly like Shakespeare's play except that there's a happy ending.  And the characters are actually garden gnomes, not humans.  As we walked toward Juliet's house, Kate insisted that I tell her the real story of Romeo and Juliet over and over and over.  She was much more disappointed that the characters were human, not gnomes, than by the fact that they both died at the end. (Will's response?  "They were in love and they both died?  Cool!  Love is GROSS!")  

After we finished with Juliet's house we wandered around Verona a bit, admiring the winding streets and  interesting architecture.

And the ubiquitous golden King Tut

In the US this building would look shabby and dilapidated, but in Europe?  Charming.  

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