The city of love.

In XIV century Verona, the period in which the Shakespearian tragedy is set, the river Adige and the city walls enclosed the historical centre, the seat of the residences of the noble families, mostrly built in bricks. Here, at a short distance from Piazza delle Erbe and very close to each other, lived the two rival families Montague and Capulet.

Juliet’s House, nowadays at n° 23 of Via Cappello, is a brick house dating from the XIII century with a gothic gate, which was once the stable of the Dal Cappello family. From the yard you can see the famous balcony and the bronze statue by Nereo Costantini dating from the XX century and added during the restoration works commissioned by the director of the Veronese museums Antonio Avena. Inside the building  there are various pieces of furniture and paintings dating back from different centuries, ancient engravings relating to the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, the bed and two costumes of the film version by Franco Zeffirelli.

Nearby there is a medieval building that according to tradition is called the House of Romeo. It belongs to the family of the Count Nogarola and is characterized by thick battlement walls.

In these places we may imagine Romeo and Juliet, between Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza dei Signori, the main sites for trade and the public life of the city. Behind the Case Mazzanti, towards the side of Piazza Erbe, there is the Volto Barbaro where the duel between Tybalt and Mercurtio presumably took place, while Romeo’s revenge of Mercutio’s death supposedly took place along Corso Porta Borsari. The current Palazzo Carlotti, right opposite to Porta Borsari, bears an inscription commemorating this duel.

The story of Romeo and Juliet is indissolubly connected to the city’s political events of the XIVth century. Bartolomeo Della Scala, who ruled the city in that period, banishes the young Montague from Verona, and exiles him in Mantua. This scene takes place in the current Cortile del Mercato Vecchio, the site of the Communal Palace. This is one of the sites of the city’s political power which still maintains the austere fascination of the past; it is enclosed by palaces decorated with tuff and brickwork, a wide arcade and is characterized by the imposing stairs called “Scala della Ragione”.

A the Portoni della Bra (the city walls of Piazza Bra) you can see a bronze bust of William Shakespeare and an inscription reporting the famous words pronounced by Romeo when leaving Verona and his life in the city before escaping to Mantua:

“There is no world without Verona walls,
But purgatory, torture, hell itself.
Hence-banished is banish’d from the world,
And world’s exile is death…”

The epilogue of this sad love story leads to Juliet’s tomb, hosted in the crypt of the ancient monastery of San Francesco al Corso. The red marble sarcophagus dating from the XVI century, where according to the legend, Juliet was buried, is visited every year by thousands of romantic tourists from all over the world, and in the past it was visited by famous characters such as Maria Luisa of Austria, George Byron, Heinrich Heine, Charles Dickens and Alfred de Musset.

The burial place of Romeo, corresponds presumably to n° 6 of Via Luigi da Porto, near the communal walls. This location would represent the correct conciliation between reality and legend, between those who believe the burial site of Romeo to lie outside the city walls as he was a murderer, and those who cannot imagine him buried far from his beloved Juliet.

Notwithstanding the legendary character of the story of Romeo and Juliet, if you take a walk through the streets of Verona and its marvellous historical centre, you are bound to be fascinated by its buildings, powerful and elegant at the same time, as well as by the passionate feeling of the two Shakespearian lovers.

Even if the legendary component of the Romeo and Juliet history is unquestionable, walking through the Verona centre you will feel the power and elegance of its wonderful houses and squares, as if you were living in the two lovers’ times.