Thursday, June 1, 2006

Sorry Romeo, but Juliet's the star these days.

Forget the Arena, the trendy shops and restaurants, the piazzas, castles, bridges and statues. More than any other reason, tourists come to Verona to because of Signora Giulietta Capuleti.

The attraction is Juliet's house, her statue and of course, the famous balcony. We know that the house did belong to the Capuleti family, but was there really a Giulietta? We don't know. And the famous balcony, which will cost 4 Euro for a brief cameo before hordes of rowdy tourists?


The balcony was constructed in the 20th century, at the request of romance-hungry tourists.

The scene at Juliet's house is a horrid tourist zoo. Frankly, I couldn't get a good picture of the statue because of the hordes elbowing each other to pose with her, and rub her right breast for good luck. Look again at the picture above. See how shiny her right breast is? It's very disturbing to see such enthusiastic and public groping.

For many people, Juliet is not just a story. They look to her for help in their love lives. There are two walls at the entryway allotted for Juliet-letter graffiti.

There's even a "Club di Giulietta" devoted to answering letters to the late Miss Capulet. Why do they think they can get help for their love lives from a fourteen-year old whose solution to her own amorous conundrum was suicide?

In Verona there is a house that once belonged to the Montecchi/Montague family, but it doesn't draw even a fraction of the interest in the Capuleti/Capulet home. Boy, in this feud,it's clear to see which family won in the public relations arena.

Incidentally, some streets in Verona bear names used in Shakespeare's play. I saw Via Mercuzio and Via Montecchi while we were driving around.

I understand that closer to home, the Eastern Washington town of Othello has a Desdemona street.

P.S. Charles Dickens' impressions of Verona are in Chapter 8 of "Pictures from Italy." Back in his day, as it is now, the biggest tourist draw was Juliet's house. Some things just get worse over time.

No comments: