Red Cap at Campi di Verona
We follow the faint smell of blood to the Plain of Verona (Campi di Verona) with its beautiful buildings. It is also into this plaza where Ezzelino III da Romano, in 1257, lured 11,000 men from the neighbouring town of Padua with whom he constantly fought bloody battles, and slaughtered all of them. Can you imagine the amount of blood and the cries of agony coming from 11,000 trapped and butchered men?
Outrageous? No, just part of the fun of being human, I believe. I mean, look at the history of this beautiful, warm hearted town. In 403 AD the Visigoths (the rulers of the town) were slaughtered here by Stilicho, and then the Ostrogoths killed Stilicho and so conquered beautiful, bloody Verona. And then the fun really started. For 15 years the Goths desperately defended the city against attacks by the Byzentine army before it surrendered, just to be conquered again by the Lombards 17 years later. Three years later another bloody human tradition played itself out when Alboin, king of the Lombards was murdered by his own wife. They don’t say why she did it. Maybe he refused to build her a new castle. Maybe it was just PMS.
And so it went. Blood were repeatedly spilt on the streets of poor Verona. Rulers came and rulers went (or were killed), until the scandalous Scaligeri family came into power. Mastino I della Scala were elected to rule over Verona, but when he was not re-elected later he performed a bloody coup d’état, just to be murdered by his own nobles a few years later. From here it really went happily downhill. King Cangrande II (Cangrande means big dog in Italian, so I am told), a cruel, bad, bad tyrant of a man, was killed by his brother Cansignorio who was such a very nice King. He spruced up the city by building new castles and bridges and rounded off his beautification by killing his other brother as well. The people just loved him, but the same people were terribly offended when his brother Antonio (whom he, the nice king Cansignorio for some reason did not kill) and who succeeded him, continued the family tradition of fratricide by killing his brother Paolo. So disgusted were they that they deserted him and he had to flee the city when Verona was attacked and conquered by the forces of Milan.
As you can see, the scandalous Scaligeri family was a jolly lot, killing each other and anyone in between for the hell of it. And as the podesta or prince died or was murdered, the remaining scoundrels out did one another by erecting these outrageously massive decorated sarcophagi for the late, very dead ruler of the city. Each successive sarcophagus had to be bigger than the previous one to prove the greater greatness of the recently dead scoundrel to the preceding scoundrels.
Oh happy days! The gods must have had a jolly time watching their subjects at war, each praying for victory and then killing each other with gusto all these years. In1387 the People of Padua had their day of revenge for the 11,000 victims of Campi de Verona. At Castagnaro they gave the forces of Verona a bloody beating. Then the Scaligari came back and retook the city, just to submit to Venice one year later. And with every battle the blood was running down the streets like so much red wine. In 1630, just when they thought the coast was clear and peace was at last come, the gods struck with the Black Plague and killed 33,000 people in Verona. That was more than 60% of the population wiped out in one year, and probably more than got killed by their own stupid wars since the Romans built the Arena to kill people for fun so many years ago. And that is probably why they still drink very large quantities of wine every day. To forget, so that they can keep on believing.
This is a beautiful city, with beautiful people and unbelievable works of art. Exquisite statues and frescoes and paintings adorn the streets and buildings and plazas. And that is the anomaly in the human psyche; that they are the most murderous species on Earth, and at the same time the most brilliant, creative, artistic creatures that ever lived. One cannot help but to admire them for the determination, effort and brilliance they are willing to apply, whether it is for the brutal killing of another being, or creating works of exquisitely beautiful art. I have been told that the morons are even capable of that most sacred of all emotions … love. I can hardly believe it.
A strange lot, this murdering, fornicating human race. Ridiculous to the point of madness. From my more cultured point of view, rather amusing.
I hate the bastards. But my Michela is not like that. She is soft and tender and shy. She is a goddess, an innocent child. She is my Juliet, and I her Romeo. I love her. And bedazzled by love, we follow in the blood tainted footsteps of those two immortal lovers, Romeo and his Juliet. I want to pay them a visit and see what all the fuss is about.