Recently, I watched the ‘Battle of Winterfell’ and posted a meme (Read: Spoiler) about how the cinematography was insanely dark. Since I am vehemently against spoilers and lead the ‘Anti – Spoiler Club’ among my pals, one of my dearest buddies responded,
Et tu, Brute?
That struck a chord and instantly, I was transported to a time in my childhood when I was glued to, ‘Julius Caesar’…
And no, I wasn’t such an ardent bibliophile that I casually walked into a library and picked Shakespearian classics to read in the train.
The Indian educational system decided to batter it down my brain.
Slowly, I learned that literature is a funny thing for it tells you that cracked crayons can conjure the comeliest of canvases. More often than not, a good number of our life experiences tends to be bitter – sweet and we realize that the dreaded grey zone is where humanity thrives.
As a kid, I never understood the need to sow the seeds of doubts and delusion in our innocent minds by including several poignant, heart – wrenching classics in our curriculum. But, in retrospect, I must agree that it was a wise decision for the world isn’t all roses and sunshine.
Rather, there are thorns and torrential downpours…
Now that we have been taught, treachery and betrayal are commonplace among friends, the next (il)logical step would be to let the cat out of the bag and proclaim to our young minds that love doesn’t exist. A vile tale echoing the fact that believing in love is equivalent to boarding the self – destruction train had to procured and plastered. Since Shakespeare had already snuck into our books, there was no better time to introduce us to the second famed Shakespearean trump card,
a.k.a., Romeo and Juliet
…Why? Because, Romeo didn’t end up with Juliet but what they
did do was end their life together.
If such an ominous threat loomed over the concept of falling in love, who would dare to do it?
As per the story, there was also a fair chance that you could be homeless, hopeless and helpless before you decide to ingest the magic potion that could end your lives.
Finally, as we were cautiously making peace with the whole Romeo and Juliet debacle and beginning to re-trust the process of love, Taylor Swift decided to make a song which went on to top the charts and stay there forever. Although her song yelled ‘YOLO’, the old aunties who read your tarot cards did not, which meant…
Sigh. The stigmas we had to overcome for love…
When I moved to Europe and found out that this tragic love story was set in a city not so far away from where I lived, I was all sorts of curious. Why would William Shakespeare a.k.a. the world’s greatest dramatist set his tragic love story in a medieval Italian city? Surely, the city had to be special and perhaps, a lil cruel? The curiosity was killing me and one day, it finally it got the better of me and I hopped on the next bus to an artistic paradise in the northern corner of Italy. A land where sunshine and sangrias flowed freely…
In true ‘careless’ fashion, Verona was completely unknown to me. I expected age old buildings, lots of delicious food, copious amounts of wine and Shakespearean propaganda. However, what I didn’t expect was a well-preserved medieval center with a Roman Amphitheater right at the heart of the city,
Prior to visiting Verona, the only amphitheater in Italy that I was familiar with was the mighty ‘Colosseum’ in Rome. Just like its Roman counterpart, this one was also built in the 1st century AD by the Flavian emperors to entertain the masses (Read: Armed bulky guys ready to take on other armed bulky guys and/or wild animals because, C’est la vie?). Interestingly, the floor of this amphitheater was covered in sand to absorb ALL the blood spilt during the fights and this particular fine variety of sand was called ‘Harena’ in Latin. Thus, the amphitheater filled with ‘Harena’ in ‘Verona’ came to be known as,
‘Arena di Verona’
However, unlike the Colosseum in Rome, this one has stood the tests of time and hosts events to this day. Put differently, the walls of the Arena have seen both the bloody carnage of the gladiators in the year 30 AD and teenagers dancing to live One Direction performances in the year 2013 AD.
Aaaah… For a minute, I just wished the walls could speak for the tales would be unrivalled…
Moments away from the Arena, was the infamous ‘Casa di Giulietta’ or Juliet’s house. There was one thing that perturbed me heavily about this casa. As far as my literary knowledge went, Juliet Capuleti was a fake character that Shakespeare crafted. Now, if she never existed, to whom does ‘Casa di Giulietta’ actually belong to? Could it be that Verona is cheating young souls struck by cupid’s arrow by inadvertently selling it as the seat of love?
Could it be?
In a quest to find all the answers, I scoured the area looking for information tablets. After an hour of snooping around the endless love notes that adorned the walls,
…I learnt that the house belonged to the ‘Capello’ family. Although Shakespeare has never set foot in Verona, it has been increasingly speculated that the feuding families are based on real lineages i.e., ‘Capuleti’ could be the ‘Capello’ clan and Romeo’s family ‘Montague’ could be the ‘Montecchi’ clan. Thus, the burghers of Verona pimped the house of ‘Capello’, added a balcony like the one in the story and flaunted it as the great Casa of Juliet Capuleti.
Despite the fact that the site reeks of mainstream tourism, the house is a beautiful, original 14th century spectacle,
There is even a statue of Juliet erected in the courtyard. Funnily enough, it looks exactly like the one in Munich! Legend (Read: Verona Tourism Office) has it that if you rub Juliet’s right breast, you will find your one true love. I, of course, had a go at it,
If you are feeling particularly blighted in your pursuit of love, you can even snag a copy of her breast,
…and well, don it around your waist. Or deposit it in your wallet. Or toss it into a well! Gee! Whatever works for you 😉
Now that I had luck on my side,
Ahoy my Prince Charming! Where are you at?
…at least I couldn’t find him as I walked over to Castelvecchio on the banks of Adige,
…or when I climbed up the Torre dei Lamberti to steal a birds-eye view of Verona,
…or when I hiked up Castel San Pietro to secure my sunset spot,
Though you could argue that I lost in my quest for love, I like to believe I won in more ways than one. Sure, the place is swarmed with smitten youngsters.
But, there were also,
- Mothers humming lullabies to their lil bubbas…
- Sweet elderly couples intertwining their hands as the sun vanished…
- Young chaps walking their dogs…
- Kids playing hide and seek…
In this rat-race called life, we forget that love is just a word for a plethora of emotions.
Friendship. Trust. Joy.
Kindness. Forgiveness. Calmness.
Admiration. Attachment. Anticipation.
Put it all together and baaam,
I found ‘LOVE‘.
All the lessons that had been drilled in my head as a kid?
Pffft! All in vain.
For now, I have created new tales in my head,
Until next time,