One quiet morning in a quaint house in Rome I opened my eyes and stretched my arms, as sunlight wafted in through sheer curtains, bathing my sleepy face. The peaceful serenity of the moment did not last long however, as I suddenly remembered what day it was and leapt from my bed in excitement. For years the phrase, “O Romeo, Romeo, Wherefore Art Thou Romeo,” had been nothing more than ancient Shakespearean words that floated through English classrooms; but that day those seven words were about to become so much more. I had recently discovered that there actually was a place in Italy where these oft-repeated words had been inspired. Legend has it, that amidst the stately buildings and breathtaking landscapes of Verona, Italy, Shakespeare penned the now-famous line.
Eager to find out for myself, I boarded a high-speed train heading north towards Verona. A short two and a half hours later, I was walking Verona’s cobblestone streets, experiencing the magic myself. As I meandered through winding streets, oozing with Italian charm, I understood why this picturesque town had inspired one of the most well known writers of all time. Wafting from quaint little cafes came delightful aromas of freshly made pizza and pasta. “Buongiorno’s” filled the air as locals greeted each other on their way to the bustling outdoor market in the center of town. I squeezed into an alleyway where fresh laundry waved in the breeze above, and in a few more steps found myself at the place said to have inspired it all: Juliet’s Balcony, or as they say in Italian, “Il Balcone Di Giulietta.”
Staring up at the ornate marble balcony, protruding from a medieval stone building with green vines creeping along its sides, I was transported back to the Middle Ages. I could picture Romeo himself ardently looking up at Juliet, declaring his undying love for her. I basked in the romance of the moment, too caught up to notice that other people around me were doing the same thing.
Continuing through town, I quickly realized that the romantic perfume of Verona did not simply hover over Juliet’s balcony, but rather that it wafted throughout the entire town. But stories of Verona’s very own medieval castle, or of the quiet, sparkling river that winds its way through town, or even of the Coliseum-size Roman amphitheater found in Verona’s center will have to be saved for another day.
This was the day that I discovered Romeo and Juliet. This was the day that I discovered Verona.