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A Gentleman of Verona

My lips were still tingling from his kisses but I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the absolute romance that is Verona by night. Romeo and Juliet knew what was up.

Loni James
Loni James
9 min read
A Gentleman of Verona
Verona, Italy

A Date in Every Country: A Series
Date #13
Location: Verona, Italy
Nationality: Italian
Activity: City Tour, Drinks and City Views
Time: 3 hours
Will see again? Who knows?
Connected via: Tinder

After hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc, I headed to northern Italy to see some old friends. Some of my favorite humans are people I’ve met while traveling. I met these particular people more than 15 years ago but every time I’m in Italy I try my best to see them. Nothing makes me happier than connecting with humans I met years prior while adventuring in another country.

There’s a unique connection that occurs when you meet people while you’re traveling. I find that I’m my most open self and the connections I make abroad are something special. Years can come and go but if we manage to meet up again in some far off place the connection remains as if no time has passed.

After spending a few days at Lago Maggiore and enjoying the hospitality of both friends and strangers alike, I headed to the Dolomites. Or so I thought. I must confess, I was still tired after my big trek through the Alps. I had been moving around so much and demanding much of my body and frankly I needed rest. While I had bought a ticket to Bolzano, I had a connection in Verona and I simply got off the train and didn’t get on the next one. I randomly decided that a few days in Verona seemed like a good idea. The joys of not having booked things in advance means I can be utterly spontaneous and follow my whims or in this case my need for a long ass nap.

I’d never been to Verona but I love a good romcom and Letters to Juliet had me itching to see it. I booked a random room and proceeded to enjoy a few lazy days. While I craved piazzas and people watching, the city was packed with people.  After being in the mountains surrounded by quiet, throwing elbows down a street filled with tourists wasn’t my favorite. I found a rhythm that would have me chill during the day and head out in the late afternoon to indulge in gelato and pasta and sunset views. I would stroll (or scooter) home sometimes after midnight. I noted how safe I felt walking alone at those late hours in comparison to how I would have felt in some of the previous places I’ve lived in the US. A late night stroll after the streets have emptied is one of my favorite things. Tis a privilege that is not always feasible when traveling especially when you're a woman.

As expected, I was swiping away and the Italian men are just *chef’s kiss*. How is it possible to have so many good looking people in one country!? Damn. Well I managed to match with this man who looked like he strolled off the set of Boy Meets World - the College Years and fulfilled all of my floppy haired fantasies. Classically handsome with a boyish vibe and the look on my face when I found out he’s a classical musician. Swoon. The man is not only a musician but a conductor for the symphony! Talk about an interesting job. (Insert jokes about rhythm and hands lol) During out chat, he shared with me that he had been working on a solo project and as I inquired more about it, he offered to send it to me. He was both earnest and sincere in asking for my opinion and feedback. HOLY SHIT. His project was phenomenal. So very good. I would show you but then you’d see his face but just know it was incredible down to the last detail. The man is extremely talented and if that’s not sexy I don’t know what is. After watching the link he sent me, I shot him a text and offered to share my feedback in person… Of course that move worked like a charm and before I knew it we had plans to meet that night in one of the main piazzas.

I lucked out as upon meeting he realized it was my first time in Verona. I suddenly found myself on a mini tour of the city with him pointing out specific historical places and showing me some of the unique sites there. He described things as only an artist would, with great attention to detail from noting the color of the bricks to unique tidbits from centuries past. He quickly asked what I thought of his project and I was thrilled to share with him how much I liked it and the specific details that made it unique. He seemed pleased and I learned that I had been the first person to ever see it! I felt so honored that he trusted me with that.

We headed to this bar with one of those hidden back patios along the Adige River which runs right through town. It maybe fit 15 people and it was perfect. He ordered us Lugana wine (a new favorite) and I found myself peppering him with questions about the classical music world. I found it so fascinating to learn about the different opera houses he’s worked at and how competitive the business is. I also found it amusing to hear about the dating within the industry and the drama that ensues. As I do, I asked about dating via the apps and how his experience had been. I learned something interesting - apparently Italian women are embarrassed to be on the apps as they feel it makes them appear desperate. They believe that being on a dating app shows that they cannot find a date the typical way so it is viewed as a negative thing for women. While this was his perspective, I met 3 Italian girls a week later and they confirmed that this is a common thought shared by many women. Italian women fear who might see their profile and think negatively of them. As a result, there are many more men online in Italy than women. (Do with this information what you will...) If they do decide to be on the apps, they might choose to create a profile that doesn’t show their face. Even then, they’ll get plenty of matches. Like many others, he was surprised to learn how many of my friends in the US had met their partners and spouses via the apps. We were trying to figure out when Tinder became available in Europe versus its launch in the US. Upon reflection, I realized how long I’d been on and off the apps. Who else remembers their very first Tinder date?! Mine was a doozy but that's a story for another time.

Conversation proved fascinating and I learned that he was divorced with kids. This was not on his profile but I’m always intrigued by the thought process of whether people include this or not. If not on your profile, when is the appropriate time to share this information? Lots of perspectives here and I’m not sure there’s a perfect way or time to do this. We ordered another glass of wine as we were enjoying our time together. I’m a history buff and loved that he shared some unique historical facts about his city including the story of how Verona’s ancient Roman theater was discovered and unearthed. It was a perfect setting as we were sitting within sight of the theater just on the other side of the river. After hearing this story, it was only natural to take a stroll to check it out. We crossed the bridge to the edges of the city and started up those never ending staircases that are somehow only magical in Italy. We could hear a performance taking place and could see the lights from the stage. We climbed a few flights of stairs to a viewpoint where we could peek in on the performance. Low and behold it was a drag queen! They were killing it in a floor length sparkly gown putting on one hell of a show in this ancient theater. Such a fun sight to see. We watched for a minute or two before climbing further in search of city views.

It was late at this point and we found ourselves pausing at the landings between sets of stairs. It was on one such darkened ledge that we found ourselves alone, looking out over the city at twilight. It took all of 2 seconds before he looked at me, grabbed the back of my neck and pulled my lips to his. Ooooeeee. The kisses were hot and heavy with us only breaking away when we heard people coming down the stairs. I’m sure our giant steps back from each other along with the not-so-quiet panting were not in the least bit suspicious.  This happened several times as we found ourselves alone and then interrupted again, only leading to the building of more tension.  We decided to climb further in search of more privacy but apparently these city views weren’t a well kept secret as plenty of other couples were doing the same. At one point he clearly had a destination in mind, holding my hand and pulling me to this darkened corner but only stopping a few meters away when we realized it was already occupied. WHOOPS. We kept climbing, finally stopping at the top to take in the view.

My lips were still tingling from his kisses but I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the absolute romance that is Verona by night. Romeo and Juliet knew what was up.

Finally, we thought we’d found a quiet and secluded spot but WAIT! I quickly interrupted him before he grabbed me for yet another steamy kiss. Thank goodness I did because I had noticed the camera hidden up in the corner. PHEW. Dodged a scandalous bullet with that one. I think we found the last possible spot, a quiet corner where we managed to manufacture some additional privacy by hiding behind a giant folded umbrella. Romantic, I know. Needless to say, our makeout got more than a bit scandy and upon hearing people headed our way for the millionth time, we made the decision to leave this overly popular romantic mecca.

With the destination unknown we headed down the million stairs. He lived outside the city and I was renting a room in an apartment across town which left us pondering our next move. This was compounded by the fact that we were on the opposite side of town from where his car was and even further from where I was staying. We did the double scooter ride again (yes I’m somehow getting better at balancing on one foot and not seeing where I’m going.) He offered to drive me the rest of the way and I knew he was hopeful that the night would continue. While the chemistry was still lingering, he was a complete and utter gentleman when I let him know I was not comfortable taking him back to my rented room, especially as I shared a literal wall with a family in the apartment I was in. Equally, I simply decided that I was good and didn’t want more. I had enjoyed the evening and was happy to end the night just like that. I have to remind myself that is ok. I don’t need to apologize or explain, I can simply say thank you and goodbye. As have many of you, I’ve been pressured before with men trying to change my mind and lord knows I hate that. The fact this is so common infuriates me. I was both relieved and grateful that he didn’t push but simply said ok, gave me a quick kiss goodbye and promised to text.

Overall, I enjoyed this date and we have kept in touch a bit. We attempted to meet up again a few weeks later as we ended up in the same city but it wasn’t meant to be.  The rest of my time in Italy was wonderful, including meeting a few readers from GLT and we definitely had some fun adventures of our own. I did finally make it to the Dolomites and WOW! Those mountains will forever call my name. Italy is something special indeed and I look forward to going back time and time again.

Teaser: Slovenia was next! I managed to go on a date the night before I was interviewed by a Slovenian journalist about my dating adventures.  

The Dolomites in all their glory.
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Loni James

As I collect and record these stories, I hope they make you laugh, curse and dream of far off places. May they inspire you to cross oceans and meet plenty of interesting people along the way.