Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes,
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life,
Whose misadventures piteous overthrows,
Doth with their death bury their parent’s strife.
The fearful passage of their death-marked love,
And the continuance of their parents rage,
Which but their children’s end, naught could remove,
Is the two –hours traffic of our stage,
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
I know, I know… I’ve heard all the stories. Apparently Romeo and Juliet are fictional, that the house of the Capulet’s was once a whorehouse and the balcony merely built as a tourist attraction. But you know what….I DON’T CARE. To me it is the most beautiful and famous love story the world has ever known. The house is where the Capulet’s held there extravagant parties and were the young couple met for the very first time and the balcony is of course where those famous words were said by Juliet to her Romeo below.
Pulling into Verona Porto Nuova Railway Station I actually couldn’t contain my excitement. We had left the vibrant city of Florence early that morning and were stopping in Verona for a few hours before continuing on to Venice. Stepping out into the warm sun were started our walk down Corso Porto Nuova which begins at the train station and continues right down to the grand gates of the medieval wall that surrounds the old town to this day. After a few lazy streets of eateries, hotels and shops we found ourselves on Piazza Bra.
Piazza Bra is the largest square in Verona and is home to the Arena di Verona which dates back as far as 30 A.D. This arena that holds a very close resemblance for the Colosseum in Rome is now a theatre and popular opera venue. This space can hold up to 20,000 people and is the best preserved Roman Amphitheater in the world. The square itself is very picturesque with its lovely typical Italian restaurants and small cafes serving the very best coffee and pastries there is. We also got amazing frozen yogurt in a small place called Billys, one of many places selling frozen favourites such as sorbet and gelato.
As we passed (and browsed in of course) Louis Vuitton and Chanel and all the other shops that line the small cobbled streets we reached Piazza delle Erbe…another square in the old town that was once a roman market place is now home to Verona’s oldest and best known fountain – Fontana di Madonna Verona. This leads off to some lovely little pedestrian walkways… one of which is Via Capello. This little cobbled street if full of tourist shops and memorabilia and about half way down (if you blink you would miss it) is the entrance to the beautiful Juliets balcony and courtyard. So powerful is the legend of Romeo and Juliet that over half a million tourists flock here every year.
The story goes that Casa di Giuletta (The house of Juliet) that is now a museum was once a whorehouse although there is no actual proof of this. The house was then formally owned by the Cappello family and despite what I believe there are no records to say that the house was owned or lived in by the Capuleti (Capulet) family. The tunnel walkway that connects the street to the courtyard is covered in chewing gum…thousands and thousands of pieces of gum line the walls. This is said to be what long lost lovers used to seal their letters. Despite this, in November 2012, Verona City Council put a stop to the chewing gum and graffiti and new boards have been provided for this.
Right at the back of the garden is the statue of Juliet. Bronze and barefoot, it is said that if you touch her right breast you will find your true love. There’s also a small shop that sells beautiful original souvenirs. Looking up at the balcony I was instantly blown away and I have to admit I even shed a little tear. We paid £6 to enter the museum and it’s the best money I’ve ever spent. Inside the rooms are filled with pictures and portraits, Shakespearian quotes and sonnets. It also has the bed and original clothing that’s typical of 16th century attire. We walk to the balcony to have our pictures taken standing on it, and take in the views of the courtyard and all the others just like me, standing down below, living a dream. At the very top of the house is an electronic letterbox were you can send Juliet your very own love letter. Mines simply said, “My life long dream fulfilled. Thank you Verona, Romeo and Juliet. Loads of love”.
My biggest regret is that I didn’t spend more time in this beautiful, old, medieval city. The sun, the atmosphere and obviously the history makes Verona something of a legend. If like me you’re a little obsessed with the story of Juliet and her Romeo then Verona is definitely the place for you.