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On Location: In Fair Verona with Romeo + Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio & Claire Danes #book2movies

“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-cross'd lovers take their life 
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.”

‘Fair Verona’ is one of the most beautiful cities we visited on our European road trip. It makes sense that it's the site of one of the greatest love stories ever told. The balcony, above, belonged to the real Giulietta Capella, a teen of the 13th century whose life may have been the inspiration for the Romeo & Juliet tale. The home and especially the balcony draws tourists and young romantics by the thousands. Whether Shakespeare actually ever visited Verona is unknown, although since he set not only Romeo & Juliet, but also Two Gentlemen from Verona and The Taming of the Shrew there, I'd say he had some fairly intimate knowledge of the place. In any case, the lack of real proof hasn't stopped the city from naming the street where she lived Giulietta's Way or posting directional signs everywhere or in general encouraging the world's obsession with this particular pair of star-crossed lovers. Apparently Verona sponsors a so-called Juliet's Club, a group of volunteers who answers each and every one of the millions of letters people (mostly girls and women) have written to Juliet, pouring out their hearts, over the years. 

You'll notice Baz Luhrman didn't used the 'real' balcony in the film starring Leo & Claire Danes as Juliet. Perhaps the director didn't find it romantic enough for his purposes? (Looking at photo stills, it doesn't look like the real balcony was used in the movie Letters to Juliet either, but in all fairness, I haven't seen it.)
There wasn't much romantic about it on the crowded day we visited. We didn't cross the thronged courtyard to touch Juliet's breast—it's supposed to be some sort of good luck charm and quite possibly could help you secure the man of your dreams but since I've got mine already, and the crowd was humungous (I can't imagine this place in midsummer!) we (me and the man of my dreams) decided to skedaddle out of there. There's a museum and we could have gone out onto the balcony where a couple of hundred people squeezed into the courtyard below would have been staring up at us so, nope, we skipped that too.

The entrance to the courtyard of Juliet's home
The names of young lovers, like Romeo + Juliet, cover the walls, along with chewing gum and other 'romantic'? bits. 

There were other things to see.

A beautiful and ancient city, Verona boasts an old Roman arena where gladiators did their thing back in the first century and where every summer opera is still performed, as are various other concerts throughout the year.

The day we were there they were setting up for a big event and several school groups were on massive field trips. It was crowded, noisy and amazing to realize it would have been just as wild back in the day. 

Funny to think that when the real Giulieta was alive in the 13th century, the arena would have been over a thousand years old already! 

I thought I'd share some of my photos of the city. Can you can picture a young couple in love strolling its ancient streets?

Verona and the Adige River. The brown color is probably due to dirt but, much like the Thames, also to a healthy balanced level of algae. Not nearly as pretty as the Seine!

 Did Romeo + Juliet stroll this bridge in the moonlight?

Where to find Juliet's house: