18 August 2012 • Verona, Italy.

One by one the couples disappeared after the sun passed behind the distant mountains. But the show had only just begun! Light clouds painted across the sky just over the horizon. Yellow, orange, pink… fading into a light blue sky, darkening above into sapphire. The mountains, grey silhouettes against the pastel sky. A siren wails past, conducting an orchestra of barking dogs around the city. Every few minutes an instrument can be heard playing over the steady sound of the flowing river.

Lights sprung up around the hills – only a few, but soon the hill became covered with minuscule orange twinkles. The sky, an ever-changing landscape, a brush smearing the clouds in slow motion – this way and that.

Verona, Italy Sunset with Cypress Trees

The sun sets over Verona, Italy. View from above.

Again, couples began to appear, but attached to their phones they were missing the show. But who am I to talk? I was scribbling in my notebook. In only 20 minutes, the colours in the sky darkened, more saturated and dominated by royal blue.

Singles, couples, friends – all emerged and joined on the wall. But I have the best view on the right corner; a tree sat right smack in the middle of their sunset. The larger cloud spread into wisps, floating ghost-like above the horizon. Ah, the last night in Verona.

The sun sets over Verona, Italy. View from above.

People snapped pictures, the bright flash lighting up smiling faces. It was obvious by the looks on their faces that the exposure wasn’t right – the smiles bright, but with no sunset in the background. So, off with the flash – now only a human silhouette against the sky. Their faces contorted in confusion and I just smiled to myself. Silly tourists with their expensive cameras they don’t know how to use.

Verona, Italy Sunset with Cypress Tree Silhouette

The clouds turned purple – what’s left of them. They thin out, stretching across the horizon, hanging above the landscape. Recently I read a page of “Loving Frank.” They describe Frank Lloyd Wright’s inspiration of architecture coming from an empty prairie horizon. It made me ask myself: What can you tell about a place jut by looking at a horizon? I took another photo; cameras are flashing all around, but the sky isn’t ready yet. Here, I read the horizon: countless cypress trees, a flat city creeping up onto low hills, and small mountains in the far distance.

The sun sets over Verona, Italy. View from above.

The sky darkened, colours desaturated and the clouds a darker grey. Buildings popping out of the hills – lights separating them from each other. Dusk painted the city together into a flat collage of shapes. The lights popped on, illuminating the sides and casting shadows, creating shapes in the night. Drums and whistles began to play. And a flute in the distance. There must have been a show at the Roman Theatre: Argentinian Dance. A horn blowing. Who wants to be stuck down in a theatre when you can sit above the city in the constantly changing twilight? I escaped the claustrophobic feel of the narrow streets and crowded plazas. Here, I could breathe again.

Two friends hopped up on the wall and clinked their wine glasses together. Suddenly, I wished I had someone to share this evening with. Is the sky ready yet? People come and go; I sit and wait.

The sun sets over Verona, Italy. View from above.

Verona, Italy Sunset with Mountains and Silhouette

With my last photo, I saw that magic hour has passed. But I knew I got a photo that was perfect.

Now it’s time to play. Long exposures are difficult without a tripod. But I’ve learned my lesson of carrying it around all day. If I can sit it on a wall or on my bag, that is good enough for me. Yes, good enough. On my quest for happiness, I am beginning to wonder if I will ever find the happiness I am seeking. Maybe I need to settle with being “happy enough.” After all, that’s what most of the world does. Do you think it is possible to find that magical thing that makes you happy, or do you have to learn how to be happy enough? Maybe I can’t find what I’m looking for because I am focusing on a final destination instead of the journey and process.

Suddenly something in my head clears. Time to put away the camera and enjoy the sights and sounds. Dinner? An apples. This is more like it – no bread tonight. A light snack is all I need and my body thanks me. What a relief.

Italians converse around the small balcony. Laughter, waving hands. Is it possible to find a monotonous Italian? I don’t think so. Again, drums thud, a whistle echoes. Dogs bark off in the distance, hidden behind the walls of medieval buildings. Graffiti is etched all across the wall: “Pietro urso ti amo tantisimo,” “Diana grazie desistere.” My elbow lands in something sticky . Chewing gum. The city is covered in it. Sometimes I really wonder what is wrong with the youth of today. So much is wasted, destroyed, neglected, taken for granted, under appreciated. But that can be said for much of the western world.

Verona is a safe city. People wander about through the late night as I walk to the bus stop. Even with my camera bag, I walk with confidence and, here, I am safe.

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