Each evening I take a long walk no matter if I have plans or not. For instance, tonight I’m meeting a couple of new friends for an aperitif in the center. Fortunately for me, Italians meet late and I can still take my walk. This walk I do for many reasons. They are as follows:
1. I Am Boring – Being rather a boring person, I can become somewhat of a creature of habit no matter how much I like exploration or what city I am inhabiting – yes, very contrary.
2. It’s Good For Me – Even if I have had a tough yoga practice during the day, I still love walking in the evening, always have.
3. The Cute Little Boy – I begin my walk along the river, which is just a stones throw from my flat. Around the same time I leave my flat; 5:45ish, a young father is usually taking his little boy on a bike ride. The boy, who can’t be more than four years old, has white blonde hair, the tiniest of bikes and always the biggest of grins on his face. He rides his bike like Evel Kniveil; giggling over the bumps in the sidewalk and clearly giving his father, who runs behind him shouting directions, a series of mini-heart attacks. I fear his Papa will have many a heart attack in his life as his son seems to know no bounds. He is one of the highlights of my walk. He also has me seriously considering having another child someday. He’s that cute.
4. The Piano Music – Waving goodbye in my head to the little daredevil I cross the Fiume Adige at the Ponte Nuovo and turn left on at Teodorico. If I time it just right, somewhere between Via Ponte Pignolo and Piazza Giovani I can hear the sounds of someone practicing classical piano music from the building above me. Each night, for just a few minutes, I stop and look out at the river while listening to the music surrounding me. It is there that the perpetual believer in me tosses a note that I have prepared wrapped outside of a cracker (so as to sink and feed whatever finds it) into the river when no one is looking. I find this extremely cathartic, although sappy…of which I am fully aware.
5. The Sunset – After tossing my note and listening to my private concert I’m on my way once again. Walking all the way around the city center I reach the Ponte Scaligero and before I cross to enter the center, I watch the sun begin to set and the river and buildings absolutely glow. It’s a beautiful sight and although I don’t always take photos of it, I have my camera ready.
6. The People – Turning left onto Corso Cavour I stop at a little art supply store that I happened to find while initially lost. I browse while the older woman who owns the store chats with me. Mind you, my Italian is limited and she speaks absolutely NO English. However, even though I have told her that I only speak a little Italian and it’s not that good, she goes on and on – and fast. Some of it I understand (when she slows down,) but when she goes into detail about the charcoals or paper – I get lost. She also never charges me what the price on the shelves say, because she says, “sei un artista” and apparently I have “occhi profondi” (which I had to look up the word “profondi”) I don’t always buy something because I don’t always need something, but I’ll stop in and smile and listen to her tell me about this tool or that tool. If I ever were to have a Grandmother, I’ve decided I’d like it to be her.
7. The Weather – Since I have been to Italy the weather has been so absolutely gorgeous. I’ve grown weary of the grayness the Pacific Northwest fall carries, so I have to say that the weather here in Verona is much appreciated. So much so that in fact, a new friend of mine has offered to introduced me to her friend who is wanting to rent his flat long-term, of which I can rent out to friends……hmmmm….more to come there for sure.
8. The City Itself – I pass through Piazza Bra, with it’s mimes, men dressed as King Tut, Roman Soldiers and even little babies. With all of my walking to and from the yoga studio, as well as my evening walks, I’ve come to know how to avoid the popular Via Mazzini as best I can and weave my way in and out of the side streets like a Verionian. I find this city and size to be much easier to maneuver than Rome; in which each time I have visited; felt perpetually lost in…on many levels.
Even with all the people I enjoy ending the walk in the city. Although the first night I walked by Giulietta’s Balcony (as I live so very close to it) I avoid it at all costs now. It’s so full of people – and cameras – and pushing – and sticky gum – and vendors selling love. I wouldn’t have thought it would affect me the way it does but I never knew what it was really like there – under the balcony. After all, I fully admit to being a sappy romantic, though experiencing it….I feel it almost bastardizes the love story. It all seems so shallow and lacks depth. If I get an apron with my name and my lovers name in hearts does that make us more romantic than anyone else? If I stick a note on the wall for the world to see does that mean I love more than anyone else? Need more than anyone else? Feel more lost than anyone else? Maybe it’s because I find love to be so intimate…quiet – and the loudness of it all surrounding Giulietta’s balcony disrupts my psyche somehow. So you see – all of these questions emerge within me when I walk by the site and honestly – I have enough in my ever inquisitive Scorpio head without adding that to it every evening. So I avoid it.
9. Lavazzoler Chocolat. I only eat the extremely dark, almost unsweetened chocolat. Her’s is the best tasting I’ve come across and literally two minutes from my flat. When my son comes to visit in ten days it will be the first shop I take him to. He is a chocolat connoisseur.
10. It Makes Me Smile – Finally I end at my little piazzetta near the park. At the park I pass teenagers making out on benches, people walking their dogs and older couples chatting. I like to see them all. They make me smile too. It’s always a good ending to a long walk.