Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys

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Monday May 16th,2016-the album Pet Sounds is 50 years old. It is one of my absolute favorite albums EVER!

The story of Pet Sounds is the story of art versus commerce, youthful optimism versus adult cynicism and the independent spirit versus the mundane status quo. It’s also a story of tremendous courage. In 1966, 23-year-old Brian Wilson hijacked the Beach Boys, a multi-million-dollar industry consisting of his two brothers, cousin and childhood friend, to give voice to the sounds he heard in his head and the emotions he felt in his heart. The result was an album that had leading musical figures struggling to match his technical innovation, lyrical depth and melodic genius. Half a century later, it’s questionable whether anyone has.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the seminal album’s release, here are some facts about Pet Sounds‘ creation:

Pet Sounds‘ lyricist penned jingles for Barbie dolls, Max Factor cosmetics and Gallo wine.

 In an effort to craft material that moved beyond the Beach Boys’ lightweight fun-fun-fun-in-the-sun fare, Brian Wilson sought to work with a lyricist from outside the band’s usual circle. In late 1965, he tapped Tony Asher, a copywriter at the prestigious Carson-Scott advertising agency, who had written campaigns for Mattel toys (“You can tell it’s Mattel – It’s swell!”), as well as Max Factor, Gallo Wines and a host of other high-profile clients. The pair was loosely acquainted through mutual friends, and had recently crossed paths in the recording studio where Asher was producing advertising jingles. The meeting was short and uneventful, but the urbane and articulate ad man stayed on Wilson’s mind.

“A few weeks later, I got a phone call, ” recalled Asher in an interview for the Pet Sounds 30th-anniversary box set. “And Brian said, ‘Listen, I have an album that is overdue. Would you want to help me write it?’ I thought it was somebody in the office playing a joke on me.'” After confirming it wasn’t a prank, Asher secured a leave of absence from his job and reported for duty at the pop star’s Beverly Hills home several days later. Though it may sound like an unusual pairing, Asher’s experience turning long meetings with ad clients into crisp copy and memorable slogans made him an ideal partner for Wilson. Most of their writing sessions began with abstract conversations about life and love, which would inevitably seep into their work. As Asher relayed to Nick Kent: “It’s fair to say that the general tenor of the lyrics was always his and the actual choice of words was usually mine. I was really just his interpreter.”

 

“God Only Knows” was written in under an hour.

The track has become one of the most beloved in the band’s canon, famously praised by Paul McCartney as the greatest song ever written. Its legendary status is even more remarkable considering that it came together in less than an hour. According to a 2015 Guardian interview, Wilson claims that he and Tony Asher composed the song in just 45 minutes. “We didn’t spend a lot of time writing it,” confirms Asher. “It came pretty quickly. And Brian spent a lot of time working on what ended up being the instrumental parts of that song. But the part that has lyrics really was one of those things that just kinda came out as a whole.”

Author Jim Fusilli theorized that the song’s title was born out of a love letter Wilson wrote to his wife Marilyn in 1964, signing off with “Yours until God wants us apart.” Whatever the true genesis, this reference to God created a dilemma for the two collaborators. “We had lengthy conversations during the writing of ‘God Only Knows,'” remembers Asher. “Because unless you were Kate Smith and you were singing ‘God Bless America,’ no one thought you could say ‘God’ in a song. No one had done it, and Brian didn’t want to be the first person to try it. He said, ‘We’ll just never get any airplay.'” Though a handful of Southern radio stations banned the song for blasphemy, it was warmly received nearly everywhere else.

The original title of “I Know There’s an Answer” caused major conflict within the band.

While Brian Wilson was busy writing and recording instrumental tracks for Pet Sounds, the rest of the Beach Boys spent early 1966 touring Japan on the back of their most recent hit, a brainless campfire cover of the Regents’ “Barbara Ann,” which Wilson had tossed off in the fall to fulfill record-company commitments. When the group reconvened in the studio that February to record vocal parts for what they assumed would be another sunny Brian Wilson anthem, one of the first things they heard was a track called “Hang on to Your Ego.” Written with the band’s road manager Terry Sachen, the lyrics were inspired by Wilson’s experience using LSD. The whole band was taken aback by this jarring new direction, but Mike Love reportedly took particular offense to the piece, which he rejected as “a doper song”.

For the album’s emotional closer,”Caroline, No” 23-year-old Brian Wilson cast his mind back to his teenage crush on a cheerleader named Carol Mountain.

He had been obsessed with the girl as a student, rhapsodizing about her beautiful complexion and long dark hair. By 1966, Wilson had discovered that Mountain was married and still living in their hometown of Hawthorne, not far from his Hollywood home. Though also married, Wilson began to call his unrequited high-school love, who had no inkling of his true feelings until decades later.

Though they didn’t meet in person, Wilson grew depressed that the torch he carried for Mountain had begun to dim. “If I saw her today, I’d probably think, ‘God, she’s lost something,’ because growing up does that to people,” he explained decades later. He relayed this story to Tony Asher, who penned a chorus in the form of a dialogue between the two: “Oh, Carol, I know.” Wilson misheard this as “Caroline, No,” giving the song its pleading title. The recording became one of the most heartbreaking tunes ever committed to wax, plodding ahead at a depressive crawl. He played the song to his father (and onetime band manager), Murry Wilson, who advised his son to speed up the tape a full tone to give his voice a sweeter, more youthful quality. The effect made him sound like the lovesick teenager that, in many ways, he still was.

Session musicians used Coke cans, water bottles and orange juice jugs for percussion.
The arrangements on Pet Sounds boast a dazzling array of percussion previously unseen in the rock-music arena. Sleigh bells, timpani, güiro, vibraphone, bongos and other exotic instruments all add color to the album, but certain sounds aren’t instruments at all. In order to create the music in his head, Wilson improvised a number of percussive instruments from whatever he had on hand. For the Latin-tinged “Pet Sounds” track, he encouraged drummer Ritchie Frost to tap two empty Coke cans for a distinctive percussive beat.

Drumming legend Hal Blaine, unofficial chief of the crack team of session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew, had something special up his sleeve for the clip-clop rhythm that kept “God Only Knows” galloping forward. “We used to drink orange juice out of the vending machines,” he explained. “I took three of these small six- or eight-ounce plastic orange-drink bottles, and I cut them down to three different sizes in length. And I taped ’em together, and I used a little vibraphone mallet. Brian loved that kind of stuff.” Session man Jim Gordon (later of Derek and the Dominos) actually played the OJ bottles, but Hal pulled off a similar trick on the introduction for “Caroline, No,” playing upturned Sparkletts water jugs like bongos.

As the flutes from “Caroline, No” fade away, the melancholic sound of a passing train is heard while dogs wail. The locomotive whistle was sampled off a 1963 effects album called Mister D’s Machine (“Train #58, the Owl at Edison, California”), but the barks come from Wilson’s own dogs: Banana, a beagle, and Louie, a Weimaraner.

According to legend, John Lennon and Paul McCartney got together to pen a Pet Sounds-style preamble for their lush “Here, There and Everywhere.” The track found its way onto Revolver that August, but it was their 1967 follow-up that truly bore influence of Brian Wilson. “Without Pet SoundsSgt. Pepper never would have happened,” admitted Beatles’ producer George Martin. “Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds.”

Santa Barbara, California

 

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Whether you enjoy hiking, fine-dining, water sports, lazing on the beach, culture, or a great night-life, Santa Barbara has something for you. We certainly went from the very sublime at the Botanic Garden to the crazy but wonderful Summer Solstice Parade!

Santa Barbara is sometimes referred to as the American Riviera. Its beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, and colorful culture make Santa Barbara a premier location.

Santa Barbara is a 2-hour drive north from Los Angeles or a short hop from any corner of the world via the Santa Barbara airport. Santa Barbara’s harbor is home to the world famous Stearns Wharf, a great destination for the entire family. Visiting the zoological gardens makes for a great family day-trip.

 

With sweeping views to the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Santa Barbara Channel Islands and stunning landscapes, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a great place to explore California’s native plant diversity.The Garden’s 78 acres encompass a variety of cultivated displays as well as stands of natural coast live oak and riparian woodlands. We saw redwoods,woodpeckers,beautiful plants and views from almost every corner.

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The next day we went to the Summer Solstice Parade. What a riot!

Summer Solstice Parade began in 1974, as a birthday celebration for a popular artist and mime named Michael Gonzales. In subsequent years, their parade joined forces with a Summer Solstice Music Festival coordinated by Michael Felcher, sponsored by The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, staged at the Sunken Gardens to celebrate the longest day of year.

The Parade and Festival is the largest arts event in Santa Barbara County, drawing crowds of over 100,000 spectators from around the world.

The Summer Solstice Celebration has evolved into creative and original display of floats, giant puppets, whimsical costumes and masks of more than 1,000 parade participants. There is dancing, music, drumming and drama that is fascinating to watch!

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The Rose F. Kennedy Greenway in Boston

In 1991, after almost a decade of planning, construction began on the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, more widely known as the “Big Dig”. The project, recognized as one of the largest, most complex, and technologically challenging in the history of the United States, would remove the elevated highway and create a tunnel system below the city.

With the elevated highway to be relocated underground, community and political leaders seized the opportunity to enhance the city by creating the Greenway, a linear series of parks and gardens that would re-connect some of Boston’s oldest, most diverse, and vibrant neighborhoods. The creation of the Greenway was a joint effort of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA), the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the City of Boston, and various civic groups.

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The Greenway Carousel officially opened to the public on August 31, 2013 .The Carousel features 14 different characters native to the land, sea and sky of Massachusetts including a sea turtle, a cod, a peregrine falcon, a grasshopper, a harbor seal, a fox, a skunk, a whale, three types of butterflies, a barn owl, and a sea serpent. The characters were inspired by the drawings of Boston school children and fabricated by Newburyport, Massachusetts artist Jeff Briggs.

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There is also a set of lights in the section called “the Wharf District Parks” that can change color according to who just won games-Red for the Sox,blue for the Patriots etc. In addition Winter Lights on the Greenway is a series of lighting displays intended to bring warmth and cheer to the Greenway during the darkest part of the year.

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Right now and until October there is an incredible sculpture, As If It Were Already Here,from internationally renowned local artist, Janet Echelman.  Knitting together the urban fabric, it soars 600 feet through the air above street traffic and pedestrian park.

The form of “As If It Were Already Here” echoes the history of its location. The three voids recall the “Tri-Mountain” which was razed in the 18th-century to create land from the harbor. The colored banding is a nod to the six traffic lanes that once overwhelmed the neighborhood, before the Big Dig buried them and enabled the space to be reclaimed for urban pedestrian life.

The sculpture is made by hand-splicing rope and knotting twine into an interconnected mesh of more than a half-million nodes. When any one of its elements moves, every other element is affected. Monumental in scale and strength yet delicate as lace, it fluidly responds to ever-changing wind and weather. Its fibers are 15 times stronger than steel yet incredibly lightweight, making the sculpture able to lace directly into three skyscrapers as a soft counterpoint to hard-edged architecture.

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Mostly it was nice to see people out enjoying the beautiful day and hanging out-walking,strolling,chatting in this new, beautiful 1 1/2 mile Greenway.

 

Architect Francis Fleetwood

 

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This style of house is certainly very popular-I thought the perception of why this seems to be true is interesting.

 

NEW YORK — Francis Fleetwood, who drew on the work of Stanford White to transform the architectural aesthetic of the Hamptons on Long Island from the relatively modest, minimalist beach houses that reflected postwar modernism to the shingled Victorian behemoths that evoke the Gilded Age, died May 8 at his home in Wellington, Fla. He was 68.

The cause was a blood clot, his brother, Blake, said.

After opening his own firm, Fleetwood & McMullan, in 1980, Mr. Fleetwood designed more than 200 homes in the Hamptons, many of them encompassing tens of thousands of square feet, costing tens of millions of dollars and commissioned by clients who did not blink at the price.

Among them were celebrities like Alec Baldwin, Lauren Bacall, Calvin Klein, and Paul McCartney, as well as private-equity investors and commodities traders who would let Architectural Digest photograph their trophy habitats on the condition that the magazine not reveal their names.

Architects of the angular, flat-roofed houses that proliferated on the East End of Long Island in the 1950s and beyond also catered to the wealthy. But those buildings — made of wood, stone, poured concrete and glass — were unassuming by comparison. Mr. Fleetwood’s shingled, sprawling creations, produced for a more extravagant moneyed class, suggest a kind of homey grandeur.

“The shingle style is the only truly indigenous architecture of the United States,” Mr. Fleetwood told The New York Times in 1991. “Every other style, including modern architecture, had its roots elsewhere.”

“People are looking for roots,” he said in another interview. “They’d all love to be born into a grand old house that had been handed down through the generations. So would I.”

Francis Freile Fleetwood was born in Santiago, Chile. His father, Harvey, was a banker. His mother, the former Maria Freile, is a psychoanalyst.

Besides his brother and mother, he leaves his wife, Stephanie; a daughter, Catherine Newsome; a stepson, Michael Orhan; three grandchildren; and two sisters, Carmen Paul and Charlotte Fleetwood.

After moving to New York with his mother and older brother before turning 2, he attended the Dalton, Fessenden, and Riverdale Schools, graduated from Bard College and earned a master’s degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973.

At Bard, before deciding to pursue a career as an architect, Fleetwood had different designs on the kind of capitalists who would become his clients.

“I was a Marxist back then,” he told the college’s alumni bulletin, “and we would hold secret meetings every week, planning the overthrow of the school, the government, the world.”

Before establishing his own firm, in East Hampton, he worked for an architect in Aspen, Colo., and for Philip Johnson in New York on the AT&T and Neiman Marcus buildings and other projects.

In 2001, Forbes magazine put Mr. Fleetwood on its list of leading architects, calling him “the architect for the A-list in the Hamptons.”

His asymmetrical style featured gables, turrets and expansive porches that connected the interior of his houses to their typically spacious grounds and vistas. Another hallmark was a low, sweeping roofline with an Oriental curvature and red-brick chimneys that rose well above it.

By Sam Roberts NEW YORK TIMES  MAY 27, 2015

Emot with your Emoji!

 

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I love how words come and go. A few years back I said the word “fink” and my kids just stared at me. “What is that?” they said. I was shocked-that was such a big word in my youth-“rat fink” or just being a plain “fink”. Another phrase they laugh at me about is “hunka munka”-I mean, didn’t everyone use that phrase for a good looking guy???

Now all of a sudden we are “ubering” and “googling”-these names have become verbs in our everyday language. I got a new iPhone this week and all of a sudden I have the ability to use emojis. I was excited but my kids were not as I sent many the first two days! I was very curious where the word “emoji” came from and no one seemed to actually know so I googled it and this is what I found:

Emoji (絵文字えもじ? are the ideograms or smileys used in Japanese electronic messages and Web pages, the use of which is spreading outside Japan. Originally meaning pictograph, the word emoji literally means “picture” (e) + “character” (moji). The characters are used much like ASCII emoticons or kaomoji, but a wider range is provided, and the icons are standardized and built into the handsets. Some emoji are very specific to Japanese culture, such as a bowing businessman, a face wearing a face mask, a white flower used to denote “brilliant homework,” or a group of emoji representing popular foods: ramen noodles, dingo, onigiri,  Japanese curry, and sushi. The three main Japanese mobile operators,NTT DoCoMo,au and Soft Bank Mobile have each defined their own variants of emoji.

Although originally only available in Japan, some emoji character sets have been incorporated into Unicode, allowing them to be used elsewhere as well. As a result, emoji have become increasingly popular after their international inclusion in Apple’s iOS in 2011 as the Apple Color Emoji typeface, which was followed by similar adoption by Android and other mobile operating systems.Apple’s OS X operating system supports emoji as of version 10.7  Microsoft added monochrome Unicode emoji coverage to the Segoe UI Symbol system font in Windows 8 and added color emoji in Windows 8.1 via the Segoe UI Emoji font.

The exact appearance of Emoji is not prescribed but varies between fonts, in the same way that normal typefaces can display a letter differently. For example, Apple Color Emoji font is proprietary to Apple, and can only be used on Apple devices. Different computing companies have developed their own fonts to display emoji, some of which have been open-sourced to permit their reuse Both colour and monochrome emoji typefaces exist, as well as at least one animated design.

These are just some of the most popular emojis:

 

Big Bird From Sesame Street

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On the way back to Cleveland where we lived at the time from New York, where I had just been to my Dad’s retirement party, I sat down on the plane next to a very nice man and his wife. They also seemed to be traveling with a gentleman a row ahead of us. The two men were exchanging all kinds of funny lines back and forth which finally led me to ask if he was a comedian. He answered very shyly “I”m Big Bird”! I didn’t really know Sesame Street that well at the time-I only had Kate who was 6 months old. In the end, he invited my family with extra tickets to bring another family(our best friends) to come to Blossom Music Center-he was going there to conduct the Cleveland Orchestra for Father’s Day. He told me all about his role as Big Bird-he had been in every major parade,been to literally almost all countries, been on Hollywood Squares repeatedly,met millions of movie stars and yet could travel like he was as a “normal” person, as he called it. That friend who we invited to go to Blossom and see him sent me this article that recently came out. Thank you, Nancy! Here is a picture of Kate,Tom Johnson and me with Big Bird in June 1984:

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from the Los Angeles Times-May 6,2015 by Patrick Kevin Day

“There aren’t many octogenarian entertainers who have managed to stay relevant in the ever-changing cultural zeitgeist, but then there haven’t been many people who have played Big Bird. Caroll Spinney helped create the big yellow bird for PBS’ “Sesame Street” in 1969, and he’s been playing the character ever since-for 45 years.

And if that isn’t impressive enough, he’s also played Oscar the Grouch for the same number of years. Although Big Bird is an international star, Spinney, 81, has mostly remained hidden behind the feathers. But an Oscar season parody of the film “Birdman” titled “Big Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Orange Pants),” which went viral, and the new documentary “I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story” (opening May 15) are finally giving the veteran puppeteer his due. And as “Sesame Street” heads into its 46th season, he has no plans to retire.”

Q-“Watching “I Am Big Bird” is a very emotional experience for someone who is just a fan. How was it for you to watch?”

A-“It was something else, because I don’t like to make it a big deal that I’m on TV. I just have a wonderful job. I’m used to seeing characters I play on movies and things but not to see myself. [My wife] Debra and I didn’t realize it was going to be a romantic movie about our love affair. Well, it’s not an affair — we’ve been together for 42 years come June. It’s a joyous 42 years, let me tell you, the way we get along. If everyone in the world got along the way we get along, divorce would be almost unknown.”

Q-“The film makes extensive use of your home movies. Are you constantly shooting them?”

A-“That’s probably only 1% of everything we have. It took them 4 and a half years to go through everything to put [the documentary] together. We gave them boxes and boxes of stuff. We had 8mm films and even some 16mm. I used to be an animator, and they used some of that here and there in the show. They came in three separate cars to our house, and their back seats and trunks were completely filled with boxes of films and videotapes and photographs. They put it all on DVD for us, which is great, even though I keep a VHS player in the house so we can put in a videotape now and then.”

A-“Yes, definitely. It was the second time I was in the White House performing for a bunch of U.N. children from different countries in the costumes of their land. I’m trying to walk out of the scene — we were performing in the East Wing — and I stepped on one child’s lap. I heard this sound, and I thought it was a squeaky toy it was so small. I didn’t hurt the child, thankfully. I can’t see down, and there’s no way to see out. The only connection to the outer world is through the little, tiny TV set I’m wearing on my chest.”

A-“It was a joke I told when we first worked together three years before we went to China. In 1976, I was invited to be on “The Bob Hope Special.” They wanted Kermit the Frog, but Jim [Henson] was too busy, so he said, “You can have the bird.” One of the writers said they could make some jokes for the bird, but when I got there, they were all Col. Sanders fried chicken jokes. I thought he could do better.”

So I was in the bird [suit] when he walked onto the stage in front of 300 people. It was the warmup period before they start the tape. Big Bird looks at him — he was known for his swoopy nose — and says, [Big Bird voice] “Boy, I thought I had a funny-looking beak.” Here he is, one of the greatest comedians in the world and he laughed so hard he almost hit the floor. He laughed so hard, he had to put his hand down to catch himself. That was satisfying. It won him over, and it got me all the way to China.”

Q-“Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch are two of the most popular “Sesame Street” characters, but since you do both, are they never able to meet?”

A-“I was asked to be on “The Colbert Report” last year as Big Bird and Oscar. But when we got there, we discovered they wanted both characters on at the same time. Stephen Colbert didn’t know one man plays them both. We called Joey Mazzarino, our head writer, who’s a very good puppeteer as well. He agreed to zip over and do Oscar. I pre-recorded Oscar’s words, so it sounded right.”

Q-“You’ve gotten to meet and work with so many people through Big Bird. Your wife, Debra, says in the documentary that you still haven’t met Paul McCartney. Has that changed?”

A-“Not yet, but I’m determined. One time, we heard when he was a guest on some show, he said he would love to do a children’s show that had rock ‘n’ roll in it. I said, “I want to be with him on that special.” I told our cameraman, Dave Driscoll, who’s also a cameraman for him when he plays big arenas, to mention it to him. He comes back from tour and I say, “Did you see him? Did you tell him?”

He says, “Yeah, I said, ‘Paul, Big Bird wants to do something with you.'” Paul says, “Doesn’t he know I’m married?” That’s not what I’m talking about! I’m a happily married dude!”

 

Verona-Another City of Love in Italy

 

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Straddling the Adige river in Veneto, northern Italy, you will find Verona  which has approximately 265,000 inhabitants. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third of northeast Italy. It is one of the main tourist destinations in northern Italy, owing to its artistic heritage, several annual fairs, shows, and operas, such as the lyrical season in the Arena, the ancient amphitheater built by the Romans.

Three of Shakespeare’s plays are set in Verona: Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Taming of the Shrew.

Piazza Delle Erbe(above) is a good place to start a visit to Verona. Originally the Roman Forum, the rectangular piazza is in the heart of the historic center and is surrounded by beautiful medieval buildings and towers. In the middle is a 14th century fountain with a Roman statue.
This is Verona’s market square- where vendors come to slice and sell whatever’s in season. People have gathered here since Roman times, when this was a forum. The whale’s rib, hanging from an archway for 500 years, was a souvenir brought home from the Orient by spice traders. Today Piazza Erbe is for the locals, who start their evening with anaperitivo here. It’s a trendy scene, as young Veronans fill the bars to enjoy their refreshing spritzdrinks, olives, and chips.

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Verona’s Roman Arena is the third largest in Italy (after the Roman Colosseum and the arena in Capua). Built in the 1st century and still retaining most of the original stone, the arena holds up to 25,000 spectators. Since 1913 it has been the venue for a prestigious opera festival and a top setting for other theatrical performances. Although part of the seating is in bright orange and red chairs, it’s easy to imagine the original look of the amphitheater.

 

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Ancient Romans considered Verona an ideal resting spot before crossing the Alps so the city has a wealth of Roman ruins. Corso Porta Borsari was the main drag of Roman Verona. A stroll here makes for a fun, ancient scavenger hunt. Remnants of the town’s illustrious past — chips of Roman columns, medieval reliefs, fine old facades, and fossils in marble — are scattered among modern-day fancy shop windows.

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Verona’s most popular site is the balcony said to be Juliet’s in Romeo and Juliet. The house said to be Juliet’s house is in a courtyard off Via Capello. You can see the balcony and the bronze statue of Juliet for free .The 13th century house is a good example of Gothic architecture and inside is a museum with period furniture. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet made Verona a household word. Locals marvel that each year, about 1,600 Japanese tour groups break their Venice-to-Milan ride for an hour-long stop in Verona just to stand in a courtyard. The House of Juliet, where the real-life Cappello family once lived, is a crass and throbbing mob scene. The tiny, admittedly romantic courtyard is a spectacle in itself, with visitors from all over the world posing on the almost believable balcony and taking snapshots of each other rubbing Juliet’s bronze breast, hoping to get lucky in love.(this is supposed to happen within 7 years!)

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