Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Wherefore art thou Romeo?

World Heritage Listed Verona has many claims to fame. It has a grand Roman amphitheatre, arena  and many historic monuments. But one of its most popular architectural features is a lot more humble, thanks to the city’s staring role in William Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet.

The most famous scene in the play is the balcony scene, where Juliet gazes out into the night and muses ‘wherefore art thou Romeo?’ to which he appears from the shadows and answers. It may be a work of fiction, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of tourists making a pilgrimage to the actual balcony that’s believed to have inspired Shakespeare – even though there is no proof he ever saw it. The closest evidence ever found was that the house – a former inn known as Casa di Giulietta, may have once been home to the family the Capulets were based on.

Tourists don’t just take a photo. Many romantically believe the iconic site will bring luck to their love lives, so they leave letters and messages below the balcony. Which is all very sweet, apart from the fact that many choose to stick them to the wall with chewing gum, resulting in an unsightly mess on the stonework. If you want to spare the wall, you could always get close to the bronze statue of Juliet in the courtyard instead. Many have, in fact, her right breast glows a brighter gold colour from all the attention.

What would the Bard think?