Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Verona - a tale of love and death

The Content ReaderWhat do you think of when you hear Verona? I think most people think of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare's immortal drama about eternal love. Casa di Giulietta was also the main focal point for my recent visit to Verona. There are a lot of things to see and it is a beautiful city, straddling the Adige river in Veneto in northern Italy (more in a another post). Having walked around the old town, Juliet's house was one of the last spots we visited. It is without doubt the most popular one. We were not alone in the court yard.

The Content Reader
Juliet's balcony
You enter through a wide gate. On both sides are walls where people write the name of their loved ones. These two walls are filled up every day, and in the evening someone comes to paint it white, to give space for tomorrow's lovers. You pass by to enter into the court yard. On the right you have the balcony where Juliet was standing listening to Romeo's declaration of love. I managed to get a photo with an empty balcony, but it was not easy.

We went inside to have a look at the house itself. It is a museum, almost a labyrint with rooms and stairs in all directions (must have been five floors, it never ended!). Once on the top floor you have a wonderful view over the roof tops of Verona on one side and a view to the court yard on the other side. One of the rooms hosted the bed which featured in Zeffirelli's movie about the couple in 1968, starring Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting.

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The bed from Zeffirelli's movie

Once on the first floor again, I had to go out on the balcony....of course. Martin leaned out of the next window to get a nice shot...and his sun glasses glided out of his breast pocket, down into the court yard. Romeo knew what he was doing...he was staying on the ground!
The Content Reader
Me on The balcony!

I bought a copy of the book in the museum shop. The whole thing is rather amazing. Here is the main tourist spot in Verona, based on a literary play, written five hundred years earlier by an Englishman. Isn't it wonderful how literature comes alive in our minds? The house known today as Casa di Giulietta is from the 13th century, and was owned by dell Capello family (not so far off from Capulet). However, the balcony itself was added in the 20th century, but who really cares? The story has spellbound audiences for centuries and it is today synonymous with powerful and tragic love. The play is written in the tradition of tragic romances, which goes back to antiquity on which Wikipedia says:

Its plot is based on an Italian tale, translated into verse as The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562 and retold in prose in Palace of Pleasure by William Painter in 1567. Shakespeare borrowed heavily from both but, to expand the plot, developed supporting characters, particularly Mercutio and Paris. Believed to have been written between 1591 and 1595, the play was first published in a quarto version in 1597. This text was of poor quality, and later editions corrected it, bringing it more in line with Shakespeare's original.

The Content Reader
Verona over the roof tops!
 Shakespeare must have loved Verona, since he set two of his other plays in this city; The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Taming of the Shrew. As far as I know, Shakespeare did not leave England, so the inspiration must have come from somewhere else.

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