verona love

I am in beautiful Verona, Italy and am so happy I decided to spend some extra time here. I love it.

It’s hard to believe I have only one week left in Italia; it’s going so fast. I’ve been in the country for about four weeks now, and each city I’ve visited has been so different and unique. Since I last wrote, I’ve travelled to Lucca, Florence, Venice, Bologna, and now, Verona. Tomorrow, I head to Naples for the night, and finish the Italian segment of my trip on the Amalfi Coast (Sorrento and Positano). Then to Switzerland for a week, and four days in London – then home!

i'm a sucker for a colourful window display

i’m a sucker for a colourful window display

I could describe each city I’ve seen, explaining its cultural and historic significance, showing photos of the art and architecture, describing the churches and museums…but that’s not really my style. It’s more about the insights I’ve received and the interactions I’ve had. And there have been many. And it’s been challenging, and blissful, and awkward, and sweet, and funny, and…it’s been a lot.

I’ll probably write about a place or situation as something comes to me, as a memory is triggered. And what I’ve been thinking about a lot is JH, who I met at the Lucca train station on my way to Florence.

chiesa (church) san michele, lucca

chiesa (church) san michele, lucca

I thought I would love Florence, but after a calm and wonderful couple days in Lucca, the crowds were a little, um…intense for me. (I know, I know…what did I expect? It’s Florence!)

It was pretty cool to visit the Uffizi, and to see so many of the paintings from my Art History university days. And to walk across the Ponte Vecchio bridge, knowing that two of my dear friends (family, really) became engaged there. And to eat the most amazing pear ravioli at a restaurant recommended by two sisters in said family. But overall, I felt a little lonely and frustrated in such a huge, always moving (though at a snail’s pace) crowd.

best ravioli ever!!

best ravioli ever!!

And it made me wonder how JH was doing. JH is an older British gentleman, someone who (from what I sensed) has been quite successful in life, financially and career-wise. In the train station, JH asked me where the platform to Florence was located. I told him I would be back to show him in a few minutes, but he was gone when I returned. We re-connected on the platform, and he sat near me on the train.

JH told me he was going blind due to macular degeneration. I have always had a high sensitivity to anything surrounding blindness. I feel it in my gut. As if I’ve known it. Experienced it myself. I felt empathy for this man who, day by day, week by week, is progressively experiencing the loss of his vision.

When we disembarked, I helped him find the taxi platform. The queue was huge so, his hotel being quite close to the station, I walked him there. My heart was a bit heavy when we parted. I felt compassion and helplessness.

As I explored Florence over the next couple of days, I felt such a mix of emotions. It was challenging to be solo amongst so many people. Ask anyone who knows me; I don’t do so well in crowds. (And I am definitely not a market shopper – I need a girlfriend to guide me!) Try as I might, I go into major sensory overload in a mass of people. But every time I felt overwhelmed in Florence, I thought…how is JH handling all this? Can JH even see the Uffizi? How could he possibly navigate this place alone?

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post. Only that a few other things came to the surface for me in Florence, in such an intense way, and now…I feel a little raw, and humbled. Something powerful happened there; I know and don’t know what. My ego cracked. I vowed and prayed to never forget how good I have it and how much love I am capable of giving and receiving. And it’s up to me to live this way.

I hope this feeling of humility survives any attempt of egoic damage control. As a human being, it happens all too easily.

rubbing juliet's bosom for luck, as you do

rubbing juliet’s bosom for luck, as you do

And so, to be sitting here in a cafe on a warm, sunny day in beautiful Verona, at the harvest moon, having this morning rubbed the statue of Juliet’s left breast for good luck (something even the most jaded of tourists must do), knowing that people back home are going through the roughest and most tragic of times…I feel the utmost gratitude. Not because this experience will last and that I’m ‘lucky’ and ‘happy’. But because right now is precious and fleeting and beautiful, and I’m feeling my joy and their pain, and allowing all of it, because it’s all part of me.

I’m blessed to be where I am. And I can’t wait to see my loved ones.

The waiter must have sensed something was happening at this little table, as he just brought me a little glass of limoncello, on the house.

It tastes extra good.

23 thoughts on “verona love

  1. I love this post, I love reading the essence of your experiences in a way that makes me feel like I experienced them as well. I almost wish this were a book, because now we may never know whatever happened to JH. I’m glad you’re soaking up Italia and having some monumental internal shifts through your journey! I thought you had a girlfriend going with you though? Too bad I couldn’t have gone, I dominate markets πŸ˜‰


    • Just read the previous post, oops! Now I see that you and your friend parted ways. Travelling solo has to be quite the deep emotional experience, and I think that’s just what you were after, so it’s perfect and beautiful.


      • hi!! yeah it was very interesting to experience the solo travel after being with my friend. so many emotions and experiences, whew. no doubt i’ll be integrating it for a while. and YES i wish you were at that market with me girlfriend!! it was waaay too much on my own! we’ll just have to leave it for maui πŸ˜‰ can’t wait to read your latest posts this eve…big love to you. xo.


  2. Aleya~ I loved your beautiful story. When you write I feel like I am there with you. Your kindness and caring for JH, its so you, what a lovely girl you are inside and out.
    βœΏαƒ¦βœΏαƒ¦.¸¸ღ♫*Β¨`*β€’..¸ƸӜƷ βœΏαƒ¦ βœ«β€


  3. Beautiful piece of writing πŸ™‚ Its so often the people as well as a place that build the memories of our trips and stay with us other the years and become woven into the tapestries of our lives – I still think about two men I met whilst travelling in France when I was 18 – one was terminally ill but invited us to his flat to spend the night and listen to opera – the other allowed us to live with him on his land as people had helped him when he’d travelled in Turkey! Thank you for sharing your experiences – there is such a sensation of soaking up everything life has to offer and that’s so multi-dimensional (its not just about the landmarks and things :)) I await the next installment! πŸ™‚ xxx


    • thank you!! the italy leg of my trip is over and it’s true; while the beauty of italy is with me, it’s the people i met along the way that i’m thinking of the most. they have left an imprint on my heart, as has the rest of italia. the next installment should be coming soon; it’s been way too long and i’m itching to write. but as you know…the words come when they come. xox aleya


  4. Just beautiful. I so connect to the sense of humility. I’m shaken remembering my last experience with it. I too vowed not to loose it and with the help of blogs like yours it’s more a part of me now than ever before. I too feel the same for you.
    I found it deeply touching that in everything you’re ‘supposed’ to be experiencing you connect with another, JH. I love this experience for you.
    BTW…Oprah says: Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.
    She couldn’t be more right. I’m terribly excited for you.


    • thank you…that’s the thing about florence, on one hand it felt really overwhelming but even now when i look back i can see that it was a really potent part of my trip. really potent! and yes of course the ego will always be stepping in but i feel like something unshakeable happened there; it went a little deeper than before. i too am thankful to connect with you and other bloggers who are on a similar journey and remind me that wherever we are in this world we are connected and supporting each other. lots of love, aleya


  5. You forgot to mention your sensitivity for shoes. Lol! πŸ˜‰
    It is the experience of it all. Not the sights or shopping but living and feeling each sensation you encounter. Even the crowds I’m sure gives you the prickly feeling. You are sooo aware right now because of your vulnerability. This doesn’t happen everyday.

    How JH manages? This is exactly how he does it. Sensing, feeling, aware. That’s what matters, sweets.

    And pleeeeaaase tell me you thought of me as you rubbed Juliet’s belly! xo


    • ah yes, the shoes. shoes everywhere. maybe too many shoes – i get overwhelmed with so many choices! haha. you are so right, it’s about the sensations in every moment. and there are so many, and they change very quickly. it is intense, and awesome. reading your post on the harvest moon definitely helped me to be more aware and specific in my intentions; i watched the moon rise over the arena in verona, then went to visit juliet. in can only mean good things for us all. xox


  6. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who found Florence too much. I could see the loveliness that makes people swoon but the constant crowds and noise overwhelmed me. Of all the places I’ve traveled in Italy that was possibly my least favorite. Verona, on the other hand, grabbed me though I only had a day there and it’s on my list of places to which I want to pay a longer visit. I stayed on Ischia once for two weeks and adored it — my couple of days off-island at Amalfi and Positano put them on my must return list so I’m imagining you having a lovely time on the next leg.
    I wish we knew how to reach JH — I have a friend with macular degeneration who’s been holding it at bay for years through alternative therapies… I like your version of a travel story — very interesting to hear how your experiences touched you.


    • yes i think for sensitive types, florence can be a bit much. like you say, i can see its beauty and i am in awe of the art and the history, but i will be better prepared next time for just how busy it is. and verona – amazing! i was there for three nights and it was the only city where my heart felt heavy to leave.

      i know that JH was heading to greece, to visit friends, for six weeks after florence. i imagine he is relaxing on a beach somewhere right now!

      thank you for your comment. πŸ™‚ aleya


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