Being of a certain age, and inclined to travel, my SO and I decided to travel to the beautiful but economically-unsound country of Italy, for a week of cultural enrichment, wine and food.
It was my first time in Italy, and my 3 weeks of Italian classes back in the UK had basically prepared me for getting from A to B, and ordering food and wine: perfect, and being a resident of Britain, that's all I honestly needed.. Our busy schedule took us from Rome to Florence, and from thence to Verona, where I eagerly anticipated seeing the Two Gentlemen that Shakespeare allegedly wrote about during the early stages of his career. Maybe (or should that be 'perchance'), we would also take in some of the monuments to the legendary star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, and my SO confirmed that indeed, the Capulet house was preserved in the centre of the city, along with the famous balcony. We therefore duly set off, map in hand, to visit the House of Juliet.
As we wandered through the streets of Verona, we marvelled at the width of some of the streets, wondering how on earth the residents could squeeze vehicles down them: they managed to though, and ne'er the sound of a scrape of paint against wall was heard. Thoughts of "The Italian Job" car chase scenes came to mind, and I decided that it could only happen in Italy. Other streets were wider of course, and we noticed that the usual Big Name Shops had moved in. For a moment I surmised that I could be in any major city in the world, surrounded by the latest Shrine to Mammon. You can get ripped off paying for fashionable, irrelevant tat anywhere in the world, right?
As if that wasn't bad enough, we passed by the pocket-sized Colosseum which, although in a good state of repair for its age, was sporting the largest billboard I'd ever seen attached to an ancient monument. Hang on.. I'd never seen a billboard on an ancient monument before - WTF?! Yes, dear reader it's true: those in charge of the ancient and venerable City of Verona had sold out and visually destroyed a part of the heritage in the process. And to add insult to injury, it was advertising the latest Mini car - I started to suspect that not was all it purported to be in Verona and was wondering what Juliet's House would be like. If we'd been in Denmark I could at least have said that "something was rotten in the State of Denmark" .. Actually, that reminds me, has anyone thought of "promoting" Denmark using the Little Mermaid?
Eventually though, we found the House which had been thoughtfully signposted by the local authorities, and unsurprisingly the entrance off the street was crawling with people: it was after all a major tourist attraction the world over, and in many respects it was gratifying to see so many young people waiting to get in. No doubt The Bard would have been impressed that so many people continued to read his works and make, if you like, a pilgrimage to where it all happened. So we joined the amorphous ... [ Read More (0.5k in body) ]