Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s House) in Verona

Valentine’s Day approaches, and that always puts me in a Shakespearean mood. This year with a new book -- O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell -- and a movie -- Letters to Juliet -- coming forth in the next few months, I have Romeo and Juliet on the brain. 
O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.
Shakespeare’s lines have thrilled poetry-lovers and romantics for centuries and have inspired generations of pilgrims to seek out the star-crossed lovers in their hometown of Verona.  Nevermind that there may never have been a Juliet in the first place... or that the place now known as Juliet’s House may never have belonged to a family called “Cappello.” The thrill is there nonetheless. 

The house itself is a museum, though many visitors skip the spartan furnishings on display and simply pose for photos on the famed balcony.  Standing in the courtyard below, it’s not uncommon to hear full recitations -- even dramatic presentations -- of Shakespeare’s balcony scene from visitors who have come from all over the world. 

The Gypsy’s Essentials
  • Location:  southeast of Piazza delle Erbe in Verona
  • Hours: Mon 1:30-7:30pm; Tues-Sun 8:30am-7:30pm. (Last admission 45 min. before closing.)
  • Price: entrance into the building is 4€ adults, 3€ children; the courtyard is free
  • Who will love it?: romantics who don’t care of historical accuracy; anyone who has read Romeo and Juliet. This is a great activity with teens! The balcony is in a lovely part of town where teens can wander and shop unaccompanied for awhile with little worry.
  • Notes: The museum is filled with artifacts from the time period, but there is absolutely no proof that Juliet and her family lived in the house -- or even that there was a Juliet.  In fact, some say the balcony itself was added on to the building in the 1920s.  I recommend skipping the museum, but stopping by to take a quick snapshot of the balcony itself. 
Casa di Giulietta
Via Cappello 23

Verona is a charming city, and Juliet’s house is not the only thing to recommend it.  In the center of the old city the Arena is fantastic -- a tiny Colosseum where operas are staged under the stars all summer long.  For those truly on a Romeo and Juliet pilgrimage, Juliet’s tomb is in the Capuchin monastery San Francesco al Corso (Via delle Pontiere 5, near the river).  For a small fee you can see the tomb where the lovers died as well as the small church where they were married.

O, Juliet Love Poem Competition
On Wednesday I'll be featuring an interview with Robin Maxwell, author of the novel, O, Juliet.  She is hosting a Love Poetry Competition as part of her book launch celebration.  Dig deep, find that inner poet, and enter! 
Link: O, Juliet Love Poetry Competition


jkiel said...

Years ago, Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet recorded an album called "The Juliet Letters", songs he wrote taken from letters people send to Juliet in Verona. Apparently there was a professor (?) there who would read them and respond. It's one of my favorite albums... goes well with the legend behind the Casa.

jessiev said...

fantastic, AKN! i can't wait for this new book - thanks for the great info!

Angela K. Nickerson said...

@Jkiel: Thanks for that! Evidently those letters are the basis for the movie coming out this spring. I'm going to look for that recording. :)

And @Jessiev: thanks!

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