The Casa di Giulietta of 13th century design with its famed first-floor, boxy stone balcony stands at the end of Via Mazzini, Verona’s stylish shopping street. The balcony looks out over a small courtyard containing the much-photographed "Juilet" statue. Shiny areas are due to males giving her boob a rub to improve their virility and the ladies rubbing her arm to help find their Romeo! An enactment of Romeo wooing Juliet was in progress when we visited.
A much larger stage at the centre of Verona is the Roman amphitheatre built early in the 1st century A.D. It is the third largest building of its type and the best preserved. The Romans used it to host gladiatorial fights and mock battles – it hosted plays in the 12th century and jousting in the Middle-Ages. Since1913, it has been the largest operatic theatre in the world.
It can accommodate 15,000 spectators, who are able to follow the performance from even the most distant parts of the auditorium without the use of microphones. The unique acoustics and the sheer size of the place lend themselves to grandiose operatic performances under the stars, among which performances of Giuseppe Verdi's "Aida" are famous. We attended a performance of "Aida" at the atmospheric amphitheatre. Fortunately, we had booked our seats months in advance; otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to get in.
Each spectator received a small candle at the entrance. Part of the amphitheatre floor and the tiers of stone step seating area at the one end of the arena formed the stage. A pyramid almost as tall as the amphitheatre itself provided the central prop. The calm night was warm but not oppressive. The performance began. The arena became alive with small flickering flames. The stars above became visible with the extinguishing of the arena lights. The acoustics were perfect. Although I couldn’t understand the words, the simple plot proved easy to follow. Our seats, slightly up the banking, were where spectators were supposed to sit in Roman times and afforded a better view than the more expensive seats on the arena floor.
Other ages and cultures have also left their legacy. For instance, the palaces in the Piazza dei Signori played an important part in the city’s administrative spheres, and I noted fine churches and remnants of city walls on the drive in. Being on a day visit, time was short and we knew we had only scratched the surface of what this city has to offer.
Ayr, Scotland, United Kingdom
September 13, 2004
From journal LAKE GARDA- A tourist magnet