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Here's to you, spontaneity

Isabelle Clark

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

How a poster in Verona helped me ditch the planner and embrace the unknown.

For me, travel planning is almost as fun as the trip itself and I love mapping out my journey. Just imagine comfy clothes, a cup of tea, some great tunes in the background and making your travel dreams become a reality. Bliss…

Having a well-planned itinerary is likely to save you money, time and stress - all important things when you’re travelling.

A detailed plan is perfect for when you only have a short time to explore or want a little extra sense of security when you’re away from home.

But sometimes, and I mean just sometimes, it’s good to break the bounds of your itinerary in the name of being more free and spontaneous; it’s fun to be a bit more adventurous…

If you’re confined by the need to have your movements mapped out to the minute, you’re likely to miss out on some wonderful moments - big and small. Like walking past a cool neighbourhood bar and stopping for a drink and a bite to eat, or the unexpected offer of a different activity or side trip - even if it means missing out on something else you’d planned.

Going where the wind takes you, that’s the phrase.

My favourite spontaneous moment of the summer, one that will live with me forever, is my visit to the opera at the Verona Arena.

Smaller only than the Colosseum and the Amphitheatre of Capua, the arena was constructed in 30 AD and has played host to spectacles down the ages such as gladiator fights, duels, arts, and sport.

As I was wending my way through the ancient, beautiful arches that surround the arena, I noticed a poster for the Arena di Verona Festival. For nearly 100 years this annual summer event, known for its world-class performances, has drawn opera fans from across the world.

I’m not a die-hard opera fan, and wouldn’t usually have paid much attention, but I searched the calendar of shows and could see what looked like a truly awe-inspiring set under construction. And Turandot was on that evening.

Aside: If, like me, you weren’t sure what Turandot is about, let me tell you. The opera is set in Beijing’s Forbidden City where a princess is trying to find a suitor. Let’s just say that her unique approach to dating might not work out so well these days: she asks all her suitors to solve a riddle, if correct she’s all theirs, but if wrong, they are brutally murdered. Tinder just seems so tame, doesn’t it? Back to my story…

I was so drawn in by the history of the arena, the awesome-looking set, the story behind the opera and the fact that I had never been to anything like this before that I immediately booked a ticket and dragged one of my friends along with me.

And I don’t say this lightly… it was the most stunning experience of the year.

The opera itself was fantastic. The costumes, set design, and venue were out of this world and were (although clearly I wasn’t around in Roman times to compare) I understand, quite traditional. Despite a few rows of plush red chairs at the front, most of us were seated on the stone steps. I was sitting on the same stone that others had sat on in the first century AD.

And not one of the performers used a microphone, their voices naturally reverberating through the arena reaching even me in my cheap seat at the back.

I can’t see how this magical experience can be topped this year but here’s hoping…

So, you know what? Go buy that ticket, go pop into that neighbourhood bar, take up the suggestion of a side trip.

Isabelle and itineraries will forever go hand-in-hand but here’s to you, spontaneity, and all of the fun you bring.


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Images provided by Isabelle Clark.

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