For the day that’s in it

I don’t put much stock in St. Valentine’s Day (as may be evidenced by the fact that I’m posting this a day late!) but my little heart hasn’t completely given up and thrown away the key, so I thought I’d make my best effort to share a little of the romance of the holiday with ye all.

A few months ago, I got to spend some time in Verona. Before arriving, my expectations had been low, but the city charmed me completely.


The sun shone with all its vigour, the buildings took my breath away, the turn of every corner brought something new to marvel at. It seemed to me to be a city paved with stories, a living library to which each step I took added my own contribution. But of course Verona’s most famous story is far more well known than mine shall ever be…

The most visited site in Verona is a balcony – this balcony.

Yoo-hoo! Up here!
Yoo-hoo! Up here!

People travel from all over the world to propose to their loved ones on that balcony.


(It also seems to me to be a prime spot for pick-pockets, but I’m trying to keep up the lovey-dovey elements here.)

If you look very closely, you may catch a glimpse among the tourists of the young lady whose balcony it is.

“Wherefore art thou, easy pickings?”

If you look very closely indeed, you may notice that it appears as if she too is searching for someone. Who could it be? (Of course there’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that the charming young woman may be part of a cunning plan to distract tourists from keeping an eye on their valuables, no evidence at all, especially none in rhyme. But I digress, that is not that Bonnie and Clyde kind of love story, but rather…)

Have you guessed yet?

Romeo and Juliet is not my favourite of Shakespeare’s plays, but it is one with which I am lamentably familiar. For those seeking the York/Cliff notes version (as many of my students did), allow me to present the highlights, as imagined in bronze by the artist Sergio Passeto and found in the courtyard of a museum commemorating a slightly less romantic spot:


Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventur’d piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,
And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours’ traffick of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

The Meeting
The Meeting
2. The Kiss of the Balcony
The Kiss of the Balcony
3. The Marriage
The Marriage
4. Duel between Romeo and Tebaldo
Duel between Romeo and Tebaldo
5. Night of love
Night of Love
6. Romeo runs away to Mantua
Romeo runs away to Mantua
7. Friar Lawrence delivers the phial
Friar Lawrence delivers the phial
8. Juliet's burial
Juliet’s burial
9. Romeo and Juliet joined for ever
Romeo and Juliet joined for ever

 The End.

Unless of course you’re the kind inclined to curiosity and fancy a little more realism, relatively speaking. In which case, here’s the ‘real’ tomba di Giulietta. Romantic, eh? Also fully validated for use as a wedding venue. Can you imagine?!

Juliet's tombJuliet's tomb2

3 thoughts on “For the day that’s in it

  1. Hi Em! I found a copy of Shadowlands at the library and finally got to watch it last night 🙂 I was especially glad I knew very little about CS Lewis’ life because watching it was such a special treat (like watching a rose bud slowly unfurl). Deeply moving. I still have scenes running in my head (and I am at work now and supposed to be working). Thanks for the recommendation. The lesson for me? Say what needs to be said before it is too late.

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed it! It’s one of those films that I think is fading out of sight, which is a real shame because it has so much to offer: a compelling story, convincing performances, a lovely score and Oxford looking so appealing!
      If you feel you’d like more, Lewis kept notebooks in the period immediately after Joy’s death which were published as A Grief Observed. It’s a short little work but packed with insights into grieving and immensely moving. It’s actually my favourite written work but telling people that can sometimes make me seem a little melancholy!
      And, really, any reminder to voice all the things we want people to know before we no longer have that opportunity is always a timely reminder isn’t it?
      Em x

  2. I really must remember to tick the box below where it says ‘notify me of follow up emails’ 😦
    Now you know I am just more than a tiny bit ditzy!
    Yes, I will look out for A Grief Observed. Haven’t great works been produced during periods of melancholy and sadness? Like Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking…

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