School broke for the summer last week so the pace at home naturally slowed, as well. The children and I played tourists, watched a bit of the anti-Erdogan demonstrations across the city, and otherwise lazed around. Not quite the routine we desired for the entire summer (we were bored by Tuesday), but we knew the scene would soon improve.
By Friday, viola!  We were on the road to Provence, a last-hurrah of sorts family holiday before Jack heads to the US. ViaMichelin insisted the drive from Vienna to “only” be 13 hours, but we have experienced enough of the 8-turned-12 hour drives to Cape Cod to know that we had to parcel the travel into two days. Plus, with an almost 13-year old daughter in the house who liked the movie, Letters from Juliet, Verona seemed the perfect overnight.
The scenery changes against the blue summer sky made for an exquisite travel companion, and in good order we arrived in Verona.

Verona is an ancient city that UNESCO has on its heritage list because of its architecture, which did not disappoint. The city is compact, making it relatively easy to see the major architectural highlights in a few hours.
Did you know there are over 200 Roman amphitheaters of varying architectural integrity across Europe? This is Verona’s contribution to the tally.

Verona, some will note, is also home to a certain 14th century brownstone tucked into a courtyard with a famous balcony. Not any of these balconies, lovely to look at as they were…

…but this one at Casa di Guilietta. Though entirely a Shakespearean creation, it is believed that he was inspired by Verona to compose his tragedy, Romeo and Juliet.  Lovers and tourists flock to Juliet’s balcony; some even pay to relive the famous scene.
Truth be told, our visit to this “mecca” horrified us. The beautiful covered archway into the courtyard has been terribly defaced with “messages” to Juliet.
Railings put in place along the courtyard are dedicated to lovelocks, but of course.

For some, to our disgust, their eternal love is better expressed by a wad of chewing gum stuck to another of the courtyard walls. Ewww. The “security” people in the courtyard seem unable to stop this, for some reason.

Band-aids for the betrothed? We were incredibly disappointed in our visit, Anna Grace especially. 
Overall Verona was a charming Italian city worth our overnight stop. We found a garden pizzeria for dinner and settled in with the other restaurant goers to cheer on Italy in their World Cup match against Costa Rica. Things did not go well for Italy, though, and soon one could hear a pin drop in the garden.
Between the awful state of Juliet’s balcony and the Italian football loss, even Shakespeare would have to agree: it’s a tragedy.