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Juliet's House (Casa di Giulietta), Verona

Overview

Juliet's House, Verona
Juliet's House, Verona

Juliet's House (Casa di Giulietta) is the most poetic, romantic place in the world, due to the most famous lovers in the world: Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. It is supposedly the house where Juliet's family, Capulet, lived, and has the famous balcony where the "balcony scene" took place. In this scene Romeo comes under Juliet's balcony and overhears Juliet professing her love for him, despite their families', Montague and Capulet, rivalry and hatred towards each other. Romeo and Juliet then agree to secretly marry each other, and set the marriage for the next day. Unfortunately, after a series of events, Juliet, with Friar Laurence's help, attempts to delay a marriage arranged by her father by drinking a potion which would put her into a death-like coma for 24 hours. Friar Laurence tries to inform Romeo about this arrangement but unfortunately, his message doesn't reach Romeo. When Romeo finds out about Juliet's apparent death and finds her in a death-like state in the Capulet family's crypt, believing Juliet to be dead, he poisons himself. Juliet then awakens only to find Romeo dead by her side, and she stabs herself with his dagger to join him in death. The loss of their children paves the way for their families to reconcile, and the play ends with the famous words "For never was a story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo".
Juliet's statue, Verona
Juliet's statue, Verona

Photo by Spencer Wright on Flickr

Juliet's balcony, Verona
Juliet's balcony, Verona

Photo by Jkk at Dutch Wikipedia on Wikimedia Commons

Juliet's House in Verona is open to visit, with the famous balcony under which the beloved Romeo pledged his eternal love for Juliet. Inside there is a museum with costumes from the Renaissance era and the actual bed used in Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 "Romeo and Juliet" movie, staring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey. As Romeo and Juliet's story is fiction, the house was attributed by popular tradition to Juliet. The house actually belonged to a 14th-century Italian family named Cappello, which is reminiscent of Juliet's own family's name, Capulet, or Cappelletti in Italian. The building was purchased by Verona's municipality at the beginning of the 20th century and renovated in a neo-mediaeval style, with the famous balcony and Juliet's bronze statue by sculptor Nereo Costantini from the courtyard later added. By tradition, rubbing the statue's right breast will bring luck in love, and there is always a long line of tourists waiting their turns. Juliet's Grave is also open to visit in the Church of San Francesco al Corso, and also near by is Romeo's House. Of course, any visit to Verona should involve a souvenir in the form of a heart-the heart full of Juliet's love-and of a pen with red ink, ready to write a love letter.

History

Historically, in medieval times Italy was divided in the feuding factions Guelphs, siding with the Church and the Pope, and the Ghibellines, siding with the Empire. Guelphs tended to come from wealthy mercantile families, whereas Ghibellines were predominantly those whose wealth was based on agricultural estates, but families also often changed sides according to specific economic interests. This is why the Italian families Montecchi and Cappelletti (in English Montagues and Capulets) from Shakespeare's play were mortal enemies. It seems that these families actually existed in Verona, as they were also mentioned in the "Divina Commedia" by Dante, who stayed in Verona for a while. So, actually, the two star-crossed lovers' tragedy might have even happened, given the mortal rivalry between the two parties.