Mention the name Verona and you immediately associate it with romance and the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet immortalised in Shakespeare’s works. Now with the release of the movie Letters to Juliet, this popular tourist destination is likely to draw hoards of romantic hopefuls flocking to its shores along the Adige river in search of love and adventure.
Casa di Giulietta, or Juliet’s House, is where the Capuleti family is said to have lived. Located in the centre of Verona at via Cappello 23, it is a little difficult to find. Follow the directions to Piazza delle Erbe and once you see the graffiti covered sign post and the plaque above the archway, you will recognise it by the number of people inside the courtyard.
Pass through the short dark tunnel, (more on that later), and you’ll find yourself in the intimate courtyard vying for a photo opportunity with fellow awe-struck visitors.
With romance in your heart, you’ve come to see this. Juliet’s balcony. Allow your mind to play a romantic scene from a late night fantasy or a bad Hollywood romantic comedy.
The tiny balcony is indeed picture pretty. But if you believe the folklore, the Capuleti family has never lived here and the balcony was a recent addition in 1936 by the government to attract tourism. For just €4, you can visit the interior of the house to see the bed from the 1936 Zeffirelli’s movie Romeo and Juliet. But be prepared to rub shoulders with clichéd romantics reading each other passages from Shakespeare’s work on the infamous balcony.
Doesn’t Shakespeare sound more romantic in Italian?
Back in the courtyard, once you’ve elbowed enough photographers to secure a spot in front of Juliet’s bronze statue, some smart alec or a middle-aged German bloke will suddenly jump in front of your camera and grope Juliet’s right breast for luck. This peculiar tradition, as bizarre as women rubbing the bulge in Victor Noir’s trousers at Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, was probably started by someone with a fetish for cold shiny metallic objects.
Bronze statue of Juliet
Look around you at the people in the courtyard and try to ignore the souvenir shops with kitsch Romeo and Juliet memorabilia. The posers are taking their time on the balcony and the statue. The photographers are lined up at the back sighing in frustration. Young lovers are floating in heart-shaped clouds. Remember that you’re here in the romantic heart of Verona, and there’s one more thing left to do.
The dark tunnel through which you entered houses a collection of love letter on its walls, left for the secretaries of Juliet to answer.
Letters to Juliet
You are about to partake in the tradition and leave a note, after all, this holiday is to celebrate a milestone anniversary. You tear a piece of paper from your spiral notebook, enter your message of love and search frantically for a method to attach it to the wall. Tempted as you may be, don’t touch the blobs of chewed up gum used to secure love notes to the graffiti wall. Get creative, and you could share a bit of adhesive tape from another note.
Graffiti to Juliet
If you still find yourself propelled towards Verona in search of a little romance and you wish to visit Juliet’s house, here are some tips to maximise your enjoyment.
Tips to enjoy your visit to Casa di Giulietta
- Ten minutes make up ample time to view Juliet’s balcony from the courtyard and get a feel for the history.
- Allow an extra five minutes if you want to take a photo of the balcony without someone, usually some annoying female posing on it, or a young couple in love who decide to read long passages from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and videotape themselves in the process.
- If you’re very keen on photography, allow yourself another five minutes to photograph Juliet’s statue without anyone groping her and rubbing her right breast.
- If you want to leave a note for Juliet, bring a pen, paper and some sticky tape to affix your note on the wall. Avoid using somebody’s chewed up gum as this will surely take the romance out of the moment.
- If you’re visiting with your beloved, remember to share a kiss in the courtyard.
- And best of all, leave your cynicism at the entrance.
Casa di Giulietta / Juliet’s House
Via Cappello, 23
(near Piazza delle Erbe)
Entrance to the courtyard is free.
Entrance to the museum – €4 (October 2009)
Most of Verona is closed on Mondays.
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