“For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”
SO WROTE William Shakespeare in the 1590s. More than 400 years later, it continues to cause woe as scholars and tourists alike debate the extent to which the star-crossed lovers’ misadventures are true. The house in Via Capello was constructed in the 14th Century, and a family crest built into the brickwork indicates that it belonged to the Cappelletti family; a name similar to the Capulets of Shakespeare’s play. That family is known to have had a feud with a family by the name of Montecchi (again, similar to Montague). In fact, the feud was of sufficient significance to be mentioned in Dante Aligheri’s Purgatory, which was also written in the 14th Century, as the poet had spent a number of years exiled in Verona.
If she did exist, it is known for certain that young Juliet did not set foot on the balcony that now adorns the house, because it was added in the 1800s for the benefit of literary tourists. Interestingly enough, the absence of a balcony should not be taken as evidence that Shakespeare had never been to the Cappelletti house (although he is generally thought not to have travelled to Italy), because there is no mention of a balcony in Romeo & Juliet – either in the text or the stage directions. This has not stopped thousands of visitors stepping out onto the balcony to utter Juliet’s famous monologue and take a selfie or two.
Setting aside the debate over facts and fiction, what does exist inside the house is a collection of 16th and 17th Century clothing, furniture and artefacts, and exhibitions dedicated to the various incarnations of the play – in particular, Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film. In the courtyard, a bronze statue of Juliet stands. Depending on the length of time since it has had to be replaced last, you might notice that her right breast is a different colour to the rest of the statue. Rubbing it is supposed to bring a person luck in love, but the origins of that tradition are unknown.
While you are there, you might also like to write a letter to Juliet, seeking advice for your own love life (although call me a cynic, but a 12-year-old who committed suicide over her first boyfriend might not provide the sagest advice). One of her secretaries will, however, respond if you give them your address.
Physical address: Via Capello 23, Verona, Italy
Phone number: +39 45 8034303
Business hours: Tuesday-Sunday 8:30am – 7:30pm; Monday 1:30pm – 7:30pm
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