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Tribute to love

This summer I visited Europe with my parents where we covered three countries — Italy, Switzerland and France over 18 days.

The city of Verona located in northern Italy may not be as thrilling as Rome or Venice. It is a first century city listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Cities list (similar status of Mahabalipuram and Chola Temples). Arena is a first century amphitheatre located in the centre of Verona city.

It looks similar to the Colosseum of Rome and is as old as that. Ancient Italian cities have a common topography where there is an amphitheatre (stadium), a piazza (open ground for gathering), the duomo (main church) and the palace or castle for the King. Modern Italy is successful in preserving these monuments and generates revenue through tourism.

Shakespeare has set many of his plays in Italian cities — Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, Antony & Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Romeo & Juliet and many more. The plot of Romeo & Juliet is set in Verona, and Juliet’s house is a major attraction in the city. It is walking distance from the Arena. On the way one can see many street performers — a couple dressed like Antony and Cleopatra, a person dressed like an Egyptian mummy, and some performing acrobatics on the road.

Visiting Juliet’s house is a sort of pilgrimage for lovers, many of whom affix pad locks on to a nearby grill and stick chewed gums on the walls and scribble on it as well, as a token of love. They also visit Juliet’s tomb, Romeo’s house and his tomb.

These monuments do not have direct connection to the fictional characters. It is a very old building which “suits” the description of Juliet’s house. The balcony was added in 1936 and declared as “Juliet’s house”. A statue of Juliet has also been erected in front of the house. The courtyard is filled with tourists who all know it’s only a symbolic place.

Another important place we visited in Verona is Castelvecchio, a 14th century castle. It is a typical kind of castle having deep trench around and a strong front door managed with huge pulleys and big ropes. It is a pleasant place where we see many ancient paintings and sculptures. Many old castles and palaces in Italian cities are converted as museums.

We had some more time left for the day. From Castelvecchio we walked up to Basilica of San Zeno, spend some time over there leisurely and came back to the Railway Station. The Basilica has historical importance but it is not as big as Basilicas in Venice or Vatican. We walked a lot through Verona city. Many of the Italian cities like Rome, Florence and Pisa can be covered by foot. I feel that the heart and soul of a city can be experienced only by walking.


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