Today, a Friday, is our last full day in Padua so as soon as H left for work this morning, I immediately set my sights on planning one final trip to another most visited place in Veneto – where else but the city of the most famous lovers of all time – Verona.
I must admit, this hometown of Romeo and Giulietta completely blew me away! I came here merely to search for that famous balcony not realizing that it is even richer of artistic history than Padua and second only to Venice, if not Rome, in Roman and Medieval architecture in the grandest scale. Its arena is the third largest in Italy, after the Colosseum in Rome and the one in Capua. There are also the ruins of an amphitheater, the impressive churches every few hundred meters, medieval reliefs, sculptures and many Roman ruins..
But I shall delve on those sights later and will just focus on that famous balcony where the love-struck couple held their secret trysts and confirmed their love for one another.
O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.
…William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliette”
Voila! the most famous balcony in the planet, finally seen by yours truly! (I must take note of adding it to my “List of Places I’d like to see before I leave this Earth” folder and tick “done!” before I forget.)
This balcony, famous as the romantic setting of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy has become one of the most romantic places in the world, a Must-See for tourists especially lovers as well as singles hoping to find true love!
Now, now, it doesn’t matter if Romeo e Giulietta were just a fiction of the Bard’s imagination and the balcony attached to the 14th century building known as Casa di Giulietta (House of Juliet) was built only in the 1930’s for the purpose of creating a more realistic past and eventually, to make it as a top tourist attraction for the city. But it became a success!
Because of its fame that has grown into epic proportions, the house is now made available as a wedding venue for those who can afford its high price but who is complaining? After all, you get married in style only once, and get the chance to take a photo of the both of you in all your wedding attire glory, kissing on this legendary balcony only once, unless you don’t mind repeating the scene for your subsequent wedding/s !
The courtyard beneath the balcony contains a bronze statue of Juliet. You will notice that that part of her chest is whiter than the rest. That is due to a legend that if a person strokes her right breast, she will find true love.
Everyone – man, woman and even couples had to observe that legend.
Behind her statue are the highest number of love padlocks I have ever seen! This blanket of locks only comprises part of a wall, a quarter of it, in fact. There are also locks attached to tree branches, on concrete urns, on other grills around the courtyard. I’m telling you, the shopowner on the courtyard selling these padlocks is laughing his way to the bank!
People come to profess their love on Juliet’s wall by leaving messages. There is a tradition that everyone who visits the house should leave something for Juliet, hence, the walls are covered with graffiti, writings and chewing gums of different shapes and colours where names and love messages are minisculely written.
Some visitors who didn’t have chewing gums nor sheets of papers have to use band-aid, yikes!
Why are there two handsets on each phonebox? So that each couple could have their photos taken talking to Juliet. A photo of a Romeo and Juliet scene is displayed on each box.
On the wall next to a shop is this mailbox of the heroine. Notice the balcony imitation and the letters inside are real!
And this is the view from the Via di Capello where the tunnel on the left is the entrance to the courtyard. These love and gum messages are overflowing all the way to the neighbouring shops but I guess, the traders understand. After all, they have been in love once in their lifetime!
And for those newly-weds in Casa di Giulietta or simply lovers who got carried away by the romantic ambience, there is the La Corte di Giulietta, a bed and breakfast hotel whose entrance door is right on the courtyard!