Saturday, October 18, 2014

Casa di Giulietta in Citta' de Verona

Who doesn't love a little bit of Shakespeare now and then, with all that comedy and tragedy going on. Good versus evil, death and dying, loving and crying - oh my!  Reading Shakespeare is difficult, I profess. His poetic dramatic structure demands translation, don't you agree?  Anyway, I have to tell you about a place that tells the story of my most favorite Shakespearean tragedy, Romeo & Juliet.

During our vacation in Italy, my group left the hotel for a day tour to Bologna, but along the way, our tour director announced that we would skip Bologna, and instead drive to Verona for it was much cooler.  Apparently, Bologna was in the 90s with high humidity.  I looked to my husband with big eyes and said - what else - what?????  That was said quietly, of course, because I'm not a loud person. I was beyond excited, and to those seated around me on the bus who didn't know anything about Verona, they were excited, too, when I said, "I think we're going to the House of Juliet, you know, Romeo & Juliet!".  Applause erupted throughout the bus when the tour director did, indeed, say we were going to visit the famous balcony.  Be still, my beating heart.

Credit:  Jacobo Prisco
We walked from the parking area outside the city wall through modern shopping areas, and past medieval structures.  It is a bustling city with a large number of ancient Roman monuments, thus making Verona a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We followed the signs that directed us to the famous House of Juliet.  It was great until I saw this.

This short tunnel was dark, crowded, and the walls were covered with "love" graffiti, love notes and, for some reason, chewed-up gum.  Don't ask because I just don't know -- the gum, that is.  But wait, there is a light at the end of the tunnel!  Just beyond is the talked-about courtyard of the home of the the dell Capello family, not too far removed from Capulet, right?  The house dates from the 13th century and the family coat of arms can still be seen on the wall.  Before you enter the courtyard, there is a red mailbox in which you can mail a letter to Juliet.  The volunteer secretaries of Juliet's Club respond to thousands of letters from the lovelorn, in different languages.  Another red mailbox is inside the house/museum.  If you want to take a comprehensive tour of the home/museum, it is 350 euros for 3 hours.  That's about $192.  We didn't have time to do the tour, but this is something I'll absolutely do on my next visit to Verona.  I would be honored to sit with the secretaries and to read the letters, even if for just a little while.

This set of three photos credited to Google Images

Every year hundreds of thousands of people trek to Verona to see the balcony where Juliet once stood while Romeo declared his love.  What most people don't know is that this particular balcony did not come with the original structure, back in the 13th century.  The balcony was added in the 20th century, but we don't mind. We don't care that Romeo and Juliet were only figments of Shakespeare's imagination. though not its tragic ending.  The  power of storytelling should never be underestimated!

Getting back to the family dell Capello courtyard, there is a beautiful bronze sculpture of Juliet. People rub her right breast for luck.  I didn't do it because #1, I found my love and he was with me, and #2, it just didn't seem right.  There is also an enormous iron gate where you can attach your padlock, a tradition for lovers.

Google Images

I was a young teenager when I first saw the 1968 British-Italian romance film Romeo and Juliet directed by Franco Zeffirelli.  I loved the film because everything about it was so beautiful -- the theme song, the costumes, the lead actors  (so young, and I couldn't get enough of their accents), the cinematography, everything!

The timing couldn't have been more perfect, and I will swear that I didn't plan any of this.  As I'm researching and typing this post, I find this article that was just released today, Italian time.  It appears the Italian authorities and historians are cracking down on people who deface the walls of the house and the tunnel that leads to the house.  People are no longer allowed to post notes or write on the walls, and I think that's just wonderful.  And guess what the chewing gum was for???  To stick love notes on the wall!!!  I remember during our time at the house that one of the guys in my tour group was very sternly reprimanded by the polizia for trying to write something in ink on the wall not far below the balcony.  The policeman ran up to the guy, pointed his finger at him, and yelled in Italian.  Um yeah, we all knew what he was saying.  There was momentary silence, then the tourists went about their business.  I don't think anyone gave it a second thought to try defacing the wall after that incident.  I really had a lovely time in that courtyard, and my husband and I had our special moment at the iron gate where we attached our lover's padlock.  That was special to us!

It's best to come here in the off or shoulder season, November through May, to avoid the influx of tourists. The courtyard is small and you'll want your space to truly appreciate what the Casa di Giulietta has to offer in getting that romantic photo or finding solace for the broken heart.  Or maybe to say "thank you" to the spirit of Juliet and her caring secretaries.
House of Juliet photo
Good night, good night!  Parting is such sweet sorrow.  That I shall say good night till it be morrow.

If you haven't seen this film, you really should.  So romantic!

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