“Shall we go to Pizza Redentore?”
“Sure” I say, “Redentore, Salvatore – any one of those will do -”
“Ah! By the way, Salvatore is very good… Ma Salvatore é benissimo! We will call them.”
But it turns out Salvatore is too busy saving souls through heavenly pizza. We place all our hope for redemption in Redentore, and toward that end cross piazzi, walk down many cobblestone streets, and finally over a bridge that itself first walked over the Adige around 2100 years ago. Faced with a telltale facade, with Redentore in periwinkle neon, I realize it’s another deconsecrated church. I balk, but then one of us, a Veronesa, reminding me of Il Duomo, Sant’Anastasia, San Zeno et al, is there to reassure, “there are enough churches left in Verona”.
I end up leaving for Milano the next day without paying homage at the balcony of Romeo e Giulietta, which is exactly what I wanted, but not without finding in this city – despite not looking, or perhaps because of it – a sense of beauty so pervasive, effortless, and Romantic that, even if Romeo and Juliet never existed in Verona, which they didn’t, they would have had to be placed here – as they were. As ever: Se non è vero, è ben trovato.
* * *
The thousand-year-old churches in this city, and their bell towers, and the ever-present old marble arches, with their stones worn by moisture to look like sugar cubes; all this age and beauty, this art, long in the tooth – a constant reminder of the calamity of so short life.
But let us end on a positive note. As I’m about to board a plane from Milano to NYC, an airline employee takes my passport and, in response to a polite buongiorno, asks matter-of-factly, Data del rientro? I stare. He switches to English, asking me whether I live “there”, the there being NYC. I admit that I do. But he assumed that I’m Italian, even if for a second. Which might mean that, after all, all this time in this land-of-the-way-things-should-be has not gone to waste.
Until next time. Alla prossima volta, bella!