La Casa di Giulietta
By Frances Anna Bacosa (2010-59864)
“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.”
-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Brawls, witty lines, secret marriages, untimely deaths – who wouldn’t probably know one of the most celebrated Shakespearean masterpieces of all time about the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet? A struggle between two worlds and family feuds, not only did this magnum opus has proven love at its most bitter sweet, but has also inspired the phenomenon of letter writing to Juliet in her long believed house – Casa di Giulietta.
Located at the heart of Verona at Via Capello 23, Casa di Giulietta has long been owned by the Dal Capello family. In truth, the similarity of their name is one of the luring reasons why it is believed to have been home of the Capulets in Shakespeare’s tragedy, though entirely fictional in characters. Although purchased by the City of Verona in 1905, the coat-of-arms of the Dal Capello family can still be observed on the keystone of the inner archway in the courtyard. However, it was Antonio Avena, director of the cities museums, who entirely transformed it “from an anonymous ex-stall to the home of the dreaming Juliet.” Built around twelfth to thirteenth century, this home offers beautiful arts and architecture, generally believed to be Medieval in style, which indeed haven’t stopped hundreds of thousands of tourists from visiting.
In 1930s, the infamous balcony which was supposedly the very same one where Juliet cried out for Romeo was added to the structure. A lot of young women nowadays can be seen standing on the balcony probably imagining themselves as Juliet. The restoration also brought the addition of windows and Gothic doors that welcome visitors as they enter the house.
Inside is a small museum showcasing authentic artifacts from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. All of the paintings, ceramics and frescoes relate to Shakespeare’s play. The ambience of the museum is best enjoyed without the crowds nonetheless still a very fascinating attraction for history enthusiasts, regardless of Romeo and Juliet. Back in the courtyard, you will see Juliet’s bronze statue by sculptor Nereo Constantini. People say that it brings good luck if you give her right breast a rub. Perhaps, this is one of the famous attractions of Juliet’s house.
And of course, who would forget Juliet’s wall? Every year, thousands of people write their names and the names of their loved ones here. They say writing on that place would make their love everlasting. Thousands of love letters are also being posted all over the walls. These are then collected and left for the secretaries of Juliet to answer. This tradition has been the inspiration of many books, music, and films today.
In 2006, a non-fiction book written by Lise and Ceil Friedman was published chronicling the stories behind the letters sent to Juliet’s House and the volunteers who have been answering them for decades. This book in effect became the inspiration of Gary Winick as he brought Casa di Giulietta again into the limelight in 2010 in his final film Letters to Juliet starring Amanda Seyfried and Chris Egan. This movie also happened to be one of my favorite movies of all time as it showcases the beauty of Tuscany and the second chance of finding true love.
Love has been a very common thing to us but ironically hard to find. Some say love is overrated, some say not. But however people may perceive love, Casa di Giulietta is a strong marker of it. Even if the story of Romeo and Juliet is just a fictional genius of William Shakespeare, the hundreds of thousands of stories being shared and posted here every year by people from all over the world can be testimonies that love do exists, in different times, in different places, in different forms.
As a tribute to our dear heroine who have given hope and inspiration to all kinds of love, we can pay visit to her grave not far from the house, La Tomba di Giulietta.
Indeed, despite the tragedy and pain, Casa di Giulietta reminds us of love and hope… simply dolce vita.