Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Is this love that I'm feeling?

Let's step away from opera and Roman antiquity for a moment and reflect on big hair bands of the 1980s. I even have a video for you.

Alas, this is what I was exposed to in my formative years. (And, yes, just in case you're wondering, that is Tawny Kitaen pre-prescription drug crazy.)

Why, you may wonder, am I singing Whitesnake songs in my head when I've been exposed to the cultural magnificence of Nabucco and "Va Pensiore"?

Look. A 20th century balcony. Bah humbug.

Well, I've got these lyrics stuck going 'round and 'round because one of Verona's main tourist attractions left me feeling cynical and completely unromantic. Verona is quite beautiful and, among many other things (like being a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the setting of three of Shakespeare's play. One, Romeo and Juliet, has some historical basis. "Some" being the operative word.

First, there is evidence that a family name dell Capella lived in Verona in the 13th century, and this family owned the house that is currently touted as Casa di Giulietta.* There is also evidence that this family once named a daughter Giulietta. However, we don't know that any Giulietta dell Cappella lived in this particular house, and we know definitely that no Giulietta of the 13th century ever set foot on the featured balcony. (It was added in the 20th century.)

A pretty view in Verona.

To get to this pretty but pointless balcony, one only need to walk into a courtyard, past years of romantic, scribbled graffiti, past the gift shop, and past layers chewed gum left behind in the spirit of who-knows-what-they-were-thinking-when-they-started-this-tradition.

It's cute. I guess.

It's silly. I'm sure.

And over half the female students immediately when "Ahhhh" when the guide explained the quasi-significance and the associated traditions.

My response was more "bah humbug."**

There's a statue in the courtyard, circa 1960-ish, that supposedly can make one lucky in love. If you touch the right breast and arm, it's reported that you'll be married in a year. Please notice the wear pattern on the statue. Apparently a LOT of people want to get married within the next year.

Mark me down for "I don't get it".

At this point, I was just incredulous. How, pray tell, could a star-crossed lover grant any luck in love? I would think that keeping Giulietta 20 paces away from your relationship would be a better bit of advice.

So I started thinking . . . am I just anti-romance? I don't date much, after all. Or do I just disagree about what romance means? Thus, the Whitesnake lyrics.

"Is this love that I'm feeling

Is this the love that I've been searching for

Is this love or am I dreaming

This must be love

'Cause it's really got a hold on me

A hold on me"

Arche Scaligere, tombs of Veronese rulers from the family Scala

Me, I say Romeo and Juliet is not a romance. (I'm doubly sure about David Coverdale and Tawny Kitaen's relationship.) It's dramatic, and it's passionate, but so is a fist fight. I've never understood people who thought that screaming matches and tortuous reconciliations were signs of a strong relationship. Shouldn't it be consideration and intimacy? Shouldn't you try to avoid the big fights? Aren't there enough stupid, little things that trip us up with our friends, and family and lovers so that we don't need BIG melodrama?

Maybe I'm wrong, but the next time I'm in Verona, I'd like to spend time with the pretty, historically accurate sights and take a pass on Miss Juliet.

A close up of the pretty fence at Arche Scaligere

*All factual information courtesy of our city guide, Anatasia.

**The first person who says "it's just marketing" gets 50 lashes with a wet tagliatelle noodle. That is NOT what I teach.


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