Day 132: Verona

Verona has the shittest tourist attraction in the world. It’s called Juliette’s house after the Shakespeare’s character but there’s no relationship at all – it’s total bullshit. It’s just an ugly house which once housed a family which had a vaguely similar name to Juliette’s family name, Capulet, oh that and they filmed a movie there in the 60s.

Everyday hundreds of camera clad cattle stream in and out hoping to digest whatever vestigial morsel of cultural capital they can. Most of those people even paid €6 for a tour of the house. There you can observe Juliette’s perfectly preserved furniture and visit her balcony where they you immortalise yourself looking forlorn, blowing kisses or doing whatever else smitten 18 year olds did in the 1300s. There’s even a tomb for the old gal. I don’t know what’s inside. Maybe it’s empty or maybe some random person potentially named Juliette has had their history unceremoniously replaced with a fictional character*. The house and tomb are the most famous attractions in Verona. They’re the main reason why people come here.

Now that I think about it I don’t even know why we came to Verona, which seems ridiculous considering the great effort (albeit highly enjoyable) it took to get there. Maybe in some subtle way those bullshit Shakespeare sites led us there.

Sometimes I think about putting up signs in Sydney to random places. They would say tourist destination on them and point to things like my friends’ homes, car parks or piles of rubble. Would people go and take pictures? Would those places end up in guide books fifteen years later? Sometimes tradition just gathers dust from nothing.

Despite all my complaints about tourism and deceit, I’m glad we went to Verona because, like almost everywhere in this silly country, it was ridiculously beautiful.

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This is where our campsite was.

On the left, under the crane. On either side of the line of trees you can see parapets of a castle. The campsite was in that castle

On the left, under the crane. On either side of the line of trees you can see parapets of a castle. The campsite was in that castle

Yeah, in a fucking castle. With the exception of New Zealand (which should be excluded from exceptions because it’s so exceptional) I’ve never seen a stupider campsite in my life. Grape vines, olive groves, a bar with coffees that look like cocktails, a delicatessen, dappled light everywhere (the best kind of light), nice coloured moss and all of that surrounded and filled with bits of ancient castle.

When we arrived in Verona we learnt there was going to be an opera on that night. It was Pucinni, €24 and staged in an ancient arena. Neither of us are massive opera fans and 24 Is a lot of Euro but when else were we going to watch an Italian opera in a giant stone amphitheatre made for gladiatorial contest?

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The opera was constantly epic, which I found rather problematic. I needed a rest. It was like listening to only guitar solos for three hours, only weirdos like that. You can start with a bang and them just keep banging around at the top of your lungs for hours. Shit’s gotta build. You need a bit of crescendo in life. Everyone likes that.

These are some things I thought about in moments were I wasn’t paying attention:

  • Does superman get tired when he hovers in the air like how we get tired from standing up for ages?
  • What I would use as inspiration if I was a fashion designer – probably insects and clothes from ancient civilisations.
  • Australia’s level of political correctness and it’s effects on culture.
  • If you teleport and all your molecules are destroyed and then remade somewhere else, is it still you?

We got a lift out of Verona the next afternoon with a French couple and a young English hitchhiker. We exchanged stories of sleeping in gas stations and asked them whether they would ever use a teleportation device*. Then we were in Venice.

*Juliette was based on a real person but the Shakespeare account is fictionalised
*the hitchhiker and I said no. Ros and the French couple said yes.

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