Verona, made famous by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has a very romantic feel to it. The city has caught on to this energy and everywhere hears in all shapes, sizes and packaging are displayed. The centre point of the old city is the impressive Roman arena. Bathed in hues of light pink it contributes to the magical atmosphere of the city.
The arena hosts outdoor opera’s in summer and the 30000 seats are always fully booked to enjoy these spectacular events. Sadly we are not in season, but it just gives us a good reason to revisit, specifically this year, since the concerts celebrate their 90th anniversary and lo and behold this year’s theme is: LOVE!
A visit to Casa Gulietta is an eye opener! It doesn’t matter that Juliet was a complete fictional character; people still flock to the spot to legally write their love messages on the graffiti wall leading up to the statue and balcony. Don’t bother to pay the entrance fee you can see the famous balcony and alleyway for free it is only when you want to stand on the balcony yourself that money has to change hands.
The film Letters to Juliet ( well worth seeing) cleverly mimics’ itself with a real downstairs room where you can also write a letter to Juliet at no cost and post it in the boxes provided. A wonderful example of live imitating art. There is even a Tomb of Juliet (we skipped that one) if you really want to experience the full story first hand.
After a good few hours spent in Verona ogling the outdoor frescos and cobbled piazzas we start heading south, our next destination is the difficult to accesses Cinque Terre situated on the Italian west coast. That night we stop at a little village just off the highway south of Parma. We decide a picnic in our room is on the cards since you cannot be in the Italian gastronomic heartland and not try some of the local produce. We head for the closes supermarket and stock up properly. On the list is without a doubt Parma ham, Parmigiano cheese and Lambrusca from the nearby vineyards. We expand our feast with some olives stuffed with anchovies (still brought along from Spain) as well as pistachio nuts, beautiful succulent lemongrass prawn kebabs and crumbed crab claws all freshly made by the nearby market.