I was a lit student and I’m an ongoing book nerd since birth so the idea of visiting Verona, the setting of one of Shakespeare’s most famous works was of course über super exciting for me. To see the streets where Romeo led his Juliet, Petruchio tried to tame Katherina and the two gentleman of Verona, well admittedly I don’t know much about that play but nonetheless it was set in Verona, was pretty high on the Italy bucket list. This weekend I got the opportunity with one of the lovely host families that a friend is staying with, to visit this centre of Shakespearian passion and see for myself the city that inspired such romance.
The first stop on our whistle stop visit was the casa de Guilietta, the house found at 23 Capella street that is now used as a tourist stop for those wishing to see the famous balcony. Fun fact: the word balcony wasn’t actually even in the English language when the play was written so it’s pretty unlikely that Shakespeare ever actually envisioned Juliet pining for Romeo on one. Early versions of the text actually had the two meeting on a bench but whatevs the balcony idea has stuck and is much more romantic.
Lets start with the obvious. Romeo & Juliet is a work of fiction. Shakespeare may never have even set foot in Italy, never mind Verona, never specified Juliets address and probably didn’t even know the word balcony. This area and this balcony has been specifically chosen because it’s beautiful. I’ve researched a bit and there are super conflicting theories about why this balcony, whether Juliet existed, where the story if the two lovers came from and whether they could have been based on real people. I won’t bore you with them, the answers are but a Google search away.
But none of these theories stop the believers, or the tourists, they flood in their thousands to pile into Juliets house, take a picture on the iconic balcony and to rub the lucky right boob of the Juliet sculpture outside the house. Another custom I particularly liked was the names scrawled on the walls of the tunnel leading to the house. Apparently the lovers scribbled upon these walls will stay together eternally. I don’t know about that, but it looks awesome.
We also had time to see the Roman amphitheatre, Scaligeri tombs and just take a turn around this beautiful city.
So to sum up I thought Verona was beautiful. It’s full of tourists and you find yourself dodging selfie sticks and pushchairs a lot of the time but I would definitely still visit. The city is just so charming and typically Italian, you can picture men in pantaloons and women in flowing gowns at every corner. I’d save your money from Juliets house and get yourself a nice ice cream instead definitely but it’s still worth a visit, if only for a lucky boob squeeze, who can say no to a little extra luck in love?