It had been a long day. A morning boat from Ischia to Naples harbour, a few stops on the underground , a train to Rome and then another to Verona where I arrived just as the evening rush hour was coming to a close. I had a night and full day here, and a ticket to La Traviata. My only brush with opera up to this point had been hearing occasional snippets on radio, and randomly watching half of an operatic Sweeney Todd. I can’t say I was impressed – “warbling” came to mind. Still, seeing it in the fantastic setting of Verona amphitheatre would be a unique experience – I’d watch the first act and have a well-deserved early night.
Just after midnight I was sat outside one of the many café’s in the crescent surrounding the arena, having had one of the most memorable nights of my life. The arena was spectacular, and while following the English translation on the electronic screens, found myself being swept away by the music and story, to the point that I stayed for all three acts and would have watched it all over again if I could. I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (without the prostitution).
I woke up to an absolutely foul, depressing morning, in contrast with the joyousness of the night before. Heavy rain, thunder, and a strong wind. I took refuge in the castle museum, which had paintings and sculptures galore, and a great view of the bridge over the river.
Later on I found Juliet’s balcony, which featured a great deal more American tour groups than when the star-crossed lovers were doing their thing. There was plenty of beautiful churches to shelter in too. Verona looked like a lovely place to spend some time – just not in the pissing rain. Oh well, I’ll just have to come back won’t I?
At around 8pm I was on the final leg of my Italian adventure – the sleeper back to Paris. I’m not sure I’ll repeat the sleeper experience – a rude awakening in Milan on the way to Venice, being shunted onto a boat in the early hours on the way to Sicily, and now being awoken at about 1am by a gruff Swiss border guard demanding to see my passport. Day trains and a good night’s sleep in a hotel next time, I think. Other than that I had a wonderful holiday and saw so much of this beautiful country. I was planning to do two weeks in Spain in 2020 – now I feel like I just won’t be able to resist coming to Italy again instead.