Verona

Daily Prompt: Grab the nearest book. Open it and go to the tenth word. Do a Google Image Search of the word. Write about what the image brings to mind.

The book beside me falls open to the first page.

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,

I consider word number 10 and follow it down the rabbit hole, Image Googling it as per the Daily Prompt instructions. That takes me in one direction, to here.

Interesting considering my initial lack of faith in the word.

My mind goes to word number 9.

Slightly more romantic than “where.” I look up Verona.

Warm, sun baked terracotta contrasts against the deep blue sky. Here and there, coloured facades reflect the warm Italian earth, mustard yellow and ochre and brick red. The walls of human history rise around the cobbled streets and piazzas.

A maze, a labyrinthine city, meandering aimlessly, steering people in every direction. Canopied shop fronts, cafes, bars and houses stretch as far as the eye can see towards the tawny hills, broken every now and then by the green of a tree, and punctuated by ornate towers that soar above the roofs.

An arching brick bridge, a relic from another time, spans the river.

In fact, from the sky, from a distance, the city does not seem to have caught up to the modern age at all. It is as if one is looking through a window in time, back to the Middle Ages. History is alive here, you can feel its warmth as you breathe in, it smells of old books and vellum, fertile earth and centuries-old dust.

Somewhere within the maze, a balcony perches. The balcony. Perhaps it is covered in ivy, hidden, perhaps it is ornate, whispering its significance. Perhaps it is plain, like every other balcony in town.

There are pictures of one online and in guidebooks, but I am doubtful. This could be a relatively recent construction, used for the tourists without consideration for legitimacy or authenticity.

Is it real? The story, I mean, is it real? Is the balcony really there and did she really stand upon it?

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing to imagine that the story of Romeo and Juliet was based in some way upon two lives from the mists of the past?

It is not a romantic heart that attracts me to this notion, but my sense of history. I would love to travel to Italy to poke through records and architecture and archives to try to reconstruct the truth behind an ageless story recognized the world over, the archetypal love story, a tale older than Shakespeare.

I have been reading Anne Fortier‘s Juliet, suspending disbelief and running wild with my own creativity as she weaves history and imagination together to create a fanciful genealogy upon which the Capulets’ and Montagues’ stories could have been based.

And I have been simultaneously following the story in the play. Returning to Shakespeare is always a welcome homecoming.

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