Saturday, September 28.
This morning starts a bit better. All I needed the night before was some interaction with other people, and a couple of alcoholic drinks.
We start today’s itinerary in the town of Verona – backdrop to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Fun fact (which I don’t think I actually knew): Shakespeare never visited Verona. In fact, he’d never set foot in Italy, period. From what’s relayed to us, he essentially got his information about towns and cities in Italy from other people more familiar with the country.
Today is no different. The courtyard is crowded with tourists, most of whom are gathered around the statue of Juliet, cameras at the ready.
Franco herds us in a group just behind another group, waiting for our opportunity to take our photos and get out of there.
According to Franco (pictured at left), the superstitious custom is this: If someone is single and poses with the statue of Juliet while cupping her right breast, that person will be married in three months.
Some tourists are groping the statue (one young woman actually does this while sticking out her tongue a la Miley Cyrus), so I don’t know exactly what that means for them. Frankly, I don’t want to find out.
It’s very similar to the locks I saw on a couple of bridges in Paris the previous September.
Next to the locks are scraps of love notes, stuck to the wall with gum by teenagers. (Um, ew.)
Franco leads us out of the packed courtyard (through a grafitti-ed archway) through the streets towards Verona’s main square, and past the arena, where classical music aficionados come to town for its annual summer festival.
And I’m not the only one who thinks so. While sitting on that bench, Mom turns to me and tells me she actually likes this place.
Whaaaat?! A place she likes? There may yet be hope.
Our time in Verona is over. It’s back on the road and heading north … over the border … and into the Italian part of Switzerland (and the lakes district).
So different. So BEAUTIFUL.
The water, hills and mountains are – for lack of a better word – breathtaking.
On this particular day, there’s some sort of street festival happening, so the place seems a bit busy.
Mom and I take a stroll down by the water, passing a life-sized chess game in progress, and into the nearby botannical garden. It’s small, but just as picturesque and peaceful.
Our brief stop in Lugano over, we head back over the border into the town of Varese, where our hotel’s located. It’s nicely spread out; all the rooms are spread out on one level, and the dining room is at mezzanine level.
Tonight’s meal is different, but it’s also a bit of a special occasion: two people on our tour – Selene (here with her husband, from Ireland) and Rex (from San Antonio, touring with his wife and another couple) are celebrating their birthdays. So in addition to getting a little extra something at dinner, they both get a little cake with fruit topping, as the rest of us sing them “Happy Birthday”. It’s quite cute.
After dinner, Mom retires to the room while I join some of the others outside for a little socializing and a couple of drinks. I try to hang on as long as I can before it’s time to turn in.
Tomorrow we’ve got not one, but two excursions on our schedule.