Today was a travel day. Our tour group boarded the bus early and headed north, leaving Tuscany behind. While I enjoyed that beautiful region, I was excited about our next stops on the tour…Verona and Venice.
There was a special destination we had in mind, as we exited the tour bus in Verona…Juliet’s Courtyard. Verona is the setting for Shakespeare’s tragic love story, Romeo and Juliet. The young lovers, forbidden to be together because their families are enemies, choose to die and be together eternally after death, rather than live apart from each other.
We all know the classic lines, spoken by Juliet as she stands on her balcony:
“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?”
This morning, we got to stand in Juliet’s Courtyard and gaze up at her balcony.
The story of Romeo and Juliet is fictional. The courtyard and balcony are tributes to the love story told, with Verona as the backdrop. However, there is no doubt that love is real, and oft times difficult or unrequited or painful. One only has to pass through the gate and stand in the courtyard to feel it.
It has become a tradition for lovers or would be lovers to write notes on the walls of the courtyard and passageway. These surfaces are covered with notes in all languages. Tales are told, on scraps of paper or in a few sentences, about true love, or lost love, or the hope that love will arrive.
Elissa, Dayan and I were feeling the love for each other as we watched the crowd of people in the small courtyard. Look at the love notes stuck on the wall behind us. People make a kind of pilgrimage to this sacred spot, leaving behind their tiny notes, testaments that love endures, even if a relationship fails.
There is a movie that I love, Letters to Juliet, whose story revolves around this tradition of leaving notes on the walls. I recognized the gates to the courtyard because of that film. I highly recommend the movie. Its story is far reaching and powerful.
There is another tradition that takes place in the courtyard. Visitors rub the right breast on the Juliet statue, in the hopes that love will find them. Dayan, Elissa and I passed on this ritual. But throngs of people surrounded the statue, reaching out to touch her, reaching out symbolically for love.
I am glad we stopped by Juliet’s Courtyard while in Verona. We didn’t stay long, however the impact was great and we had several discussions throughout the day about the experience and about that greatest of virtues, love.
Late this afternoon, we arrived in Venice, a city I have wanted to see since I was a wee girl. We are already having adventures. And speaking of love, we have fallen for this amazing city.
More about Venice….tomorrow!