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Verona, Italy: Arena di Verona

During the second half of our day in Verona we decided to venture into the amphitheater. Scratch that. My husband decided he would very much like to go inside and climb to the top and I happily unenthusiastically followed his footsteps.

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It’s not that I didn’t want to go inside and see the views from the top, it’s that I have a HUGE fear of heights. Like, my entire body starts sweating, my breaths become short, my head gets really fuzzy, I visualize a massive earthquake at the very moment I’m up top, and I can literally see myself falling to my death. It’s scary stuff, but I hear facing your fears can be the best way to overcome it. 

(By the way, that’s a huge, gigantic lie. I’ve climbed up lighthouses, stood at the top of the Eiffel-feaking-Tower, and I’ve walked up plenty of duomos, and it doesn’t get any easier—it only gets harder. But, as long as I have my strong, handsome, patient husband literally holding my hand and sometimes pulling me along the way, I’ll continue going up high, mostly because it’s extremely gratifying once I’m back on solid (i.e. low) ground and the memories and photos from that high up are amazing…as long as I can keep my hands from shaking.) 

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Anyway, back to Verona’s Arena (Arena di Verona). Apparently, it’s the third largest amphitheater after the one in Rome,
and it was completed in 30 A.D.!  During the summer months they still hold
sold-out operas, productions, and ballets for the public—I absolutely want to try making it to one before
we leave, but I’ll be willing to shell out some big bucks so that I’m not stuck in the nose-bleed section. 

We paid around €7 a person to go inside and I think it was worth it. (I only say think, because of my fear). It was actually really cool to stand exactly where momentous battles occurred way back in the day. Did you know the sand was there to absorb the blood from the animals and gladiators? Pretty gruesome! There was construction going on while we were there—perhaps getting ready for their summer months—but it didn’t stop two little boys from pretending they were gladiators! 

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Once it was obvious I couldn’t linger on the arena’s floor any longer, we started to make our way up to the top. You guys, the “stairs” were ridonculous. They were narrow, steep, slippery, uneven, and worst of all, there was no rail going up. I absolutely understand I was climbing steps made in the very first century, but for this 21st-century gal, it was hella scary. 

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After what seemed like for-ev-er, we finally made it to the top where I promptly sat down so I could regain some composure. Thank goodness someone had some sense to put a guard rail up top, because that was the only thing keeping me from going into a full-fledged panic attack. 

I have to admit, though, that it was gorgeous up there. The fog finally burned off and all that was left was a little haze hovering over the town. 

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My husband took this group of photos. There wasn’t a rail here and there was NO way I was looking down. I only saw what it looked like after he handed the camera back.

We managed to walk about 3/4 around the top before very slowly making our way down. I’m pretty positive I scooted myself off the steps a few times. Yes, scooted…like…on my bum. If going up was difficult, heading back down was even harder. Goodness gracious! 

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iPhone pics: proof I made it to the top. Don’t let that smile fool you; I was grinning through fear.

I absolutely realize the arena wasn’t that tall in the grand scheme of things, especially compared to some of the high places I’ve been before, but for some reason my fears totally took over this time. Luckily, the minute we walked out of the amphitheater I was distracted enough that I forgot about the whole experience.

Would anyone be interested in a little mid-afternoon medieval entertainment with men wearing tights AND skirts while tossing around flags? Why, yes please! 

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And with that wonderful performance, we left fair Verona, vowed to return again soon, and drove back home. 

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4 Comments

  1. Just reading that gave me vertigo! I, too, am absolutely terrified of heights. I climbed to the St. Paul's Whispering Gallery in London, and I wouldn't leave the bench by the door the whole time I was up there. It was just so. stinking. high. I think my fear of heights is hereditary – my mom once crawled across the Royal Gorge bridge.

    I'm still totally jealous that you were able to go to Verona! Maybe the Air Force will send us somewhere cool one day.

  2. I have an immense fear of arenas, too! Except I have no fear of heights – mine are of death. I can't go in them without thinking (and visualizing) the innocent gladiators and slaves whose lives were taken all for human entertainment. I didn't go into the arena in Rome and it wouldn't bother me if I never entered an arena like this ever! Congrats on overcoming your fears – it makes you a stronger person!

  3. Great picturea, Jess. I love that you are doing all this traveling for me! Your pictures and descriptions are so great that I can almost feel I'm there. Love you!

  4. I studied abroad in Verona in 2004, and I saw Aida at L'Arena. It was my first opera. And I was a broke college student and wasn't in the nosebleeds, so it couldn't be too expensive. (Also, I remember the concrete "seats" feeling very hard after a bit–see if you can bring a cushion.) In addition, re: the construction- I'm pretty sure that crane was in the same place when I was there. My mom had visited Italy about 30 years before I did, and we've basically decided that Italians are SLOW with construction and we joke that the scaffolding is what is holding some of these old buildings up!

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