Thursday, 5 December 2013

Public displays of affection

Last week I had coffee with an Australian friend, Emily, who is studying in Milan. As we swapped stories about confusing Italian verb tenses, where to find the best chocolate spoons in Northern Italy, and where NOT to sit when you go to a calcio (football) match at San Siro, I mentioned a quirky Milanese bar, Wineria, that I'd read about online. 
Stefano thought it was more for the 'younger set' so I suggested that Emily might like to give it a try on a Wednesday night with her friends from Uni. Why a Wednesday night? Well at Wineria, on Wednesdays in November and December, the first glass of wine is free, well almost free, you pay with a kiss.  Here's how it works...(If you don't see a YouTube clip here just google Wineria Milano on YouTube. It will make you smile.)
Promoting wine and love, how very Italian!  And public displays of affection, well that's even more Italian! A few weeks ago we visited one of Italy's most romantic cities, Verona. So romantic, in fact, that public displays of affection (PDAs), in one particular area of the city, are now strictly controlled by the local council. But more about that later.

Stefano's sister Monica, brother-in-law Paul, and their son Xavi, had been staying with us in Milan, so they joined us for a long weekend in Verona. Paul and Monica have visited Italy many times always accompanied by their classic guidebook, Earl Steinbicker's Walks of Italy.  Following Earl's suggested route, Paul led the way through the pretty cobblestone streets of Verona.  Although our first day was chilly and grey, Verona still sparkled.

Our apartments were just around the corner from the beautiful Piazza delle Erbe. Although we ate out at lunchtime, we were very glad to stay in and cook dinner together each night, only venturing into the cold night air for yes, you guessed it, gelato!
Over our long weekend the weather brightened and we enjoyed some gloriously, crisp autumn weather which was perfect for exploring Verona's Roman Arena.
After enjoying the views and imagining what it would be like to attend an opera there in the summer, we took to the trail again to complete the recommended sights on Steinbicker's walk.
We faithfully followed Paul and his guide over our two days of walking around Verona till there was only one site left to visit - casa da Giulietta.  There we discovered that Juliet's house is now subject to strict controls by council to manage all public displays of affection.
The tunnel leading to the courtyard of casa di Giulietta is heavily graffited with the usual hearts and initials, and in the courtyard, just beside the famous balcony, a metal grill is filled with small padlocks. These new traditions of announcing one's undying love have been officially sanctioned by the local council in an attempt to manage the less attractive method of publicly displaying affection by sticking love letters to the walls of Juliet's house with chewing gum. To combat such sticky PDAs the council employs guards to police the courtyard and issue fines of 500 Euros to anyone writing on the house or pasting anything sweetly sticky on the walls.
The council controls seem to be working as the house looked clean. The guards on duty kept a watchful eye on all visitors queuing to fondle Juliet's right breast, another strange tradition that's evolved at this Italian home of love. So after a quick wander through the courtyard leaving all breasts, paddlocks and grafitti walls untouched, there was only one more thing to do before we caught the train back to Milano.  As it was Domenica, we had to follow the Italian tradition of pranzo con la famiglia
Our thanks to Monica, Paul and Xavi for wonderful company, great apartment selection and trusty guiding through the streets of Verona.  Thanks also to Steinbicker for another great walk in Italy.

Ci vediamo prossima volta a Parma.


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  2. Love the pic of Mon, Paul and Xavy. An epic ascent for the young tacker

  3. Enjoyed being vicariously taken back to Verona Jen. It's funny that Juliet's house is probably the least romantic place in Verona. Love the way the river winds around the town. You'll have to take us to that bar when we come over even though we are no longer part of the 'younger set'!

    1. Yes we'll have to convince Stefano that we can mingle with the young ones.

  4. Found your entry while researching my third novel set in Italy--very much enjoyed your descriptions and pictures! Thank you!

    1. Thanks for your kind comment Kat. Sounds as though you are very familiar with Italy.