The Town of Romeo and Juliet

406-the-town-of-romeo-and-juliet-0Verona is the main town in the homonymous province in the Veneto region in Northern Italy. The town is situated in a mainly flat and plain area which is crossed by the Adige River. As to the name, its origin is unknown. There is one legend according to which Gallic chieftain Brenno is thought to have been the founder of the town. Once he settled down and established the inhabited centre, he called it “Vae Roma” (or “Accursed Rome”) which was transformed to Verona later in centuries. Another theory says that actually, the town was named after the Adige River which was first called “Vera” and later it was renamed to Verona and later it adopted its current name.

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The very old and antique origin of Verona is to be proven by the great number of archeological findings and ruins in the historic centre. It dates back to the prehistoric period of time although the settlement developed considerably only during the Roman conquest. In this period, in fact, Verona was in the centre of a dense network that controlled the commodity commerce with whole North Europe and with the eastern and oriental countries. That way it became one of the most flourishing towns of the Roman Empire and lots of splendid buildings and monumental palaces were built in that period of time.

406-the-town-of-romeo-and-juliet-10Today Verona is one of the most important industrial towns in Italy. Wine sector is considered one of the most significant ones thanks to the production of precious wines from cultivated native vines. The greatest and biggest wine manifestation and feast in the town is “Vinitaly” and is celebrated every April. The annual wine saloon is really a great international wine exhibition which more than 4000 exhibitors and companies from all over the world take part in.  On the other hand, fruit and vegetable sector is greatly developed in Verona and there are numerous companies dealing in processing, conservation and commercializing the products.

406-the-town-of-romeo-and-juliet-11The economy of Verona is also based on the tourist sector. There is no doubt that the greatest attraction of the town is la Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s House) and that’s why the town is also known as the “Town of Romeo and Juliet”. As a matter of fact, William Shakespeare’s play contributed greatly to the rising of the fame of the town as the place of the two most famous lovers. But did the two rivals family – i Montecchi (the Montagues) and i Capuleti (the Capulets), really exist? Yes, they did. Juliet is said to have belonged to the dell Capello family and her famous house belonged to it. By the way, the similarity of the names – dell Capello and the Capulets – spurned the popular belief that Juliet’s family was the Capulets in Shakespeare’s play and it’s a fact their coat-of-arm has still been seen on the keystone of the inner archway in the courtyard.

406-the-town-of-romeo-and-juliet-12The house itself was built in the 13th century. Nowadays visitors could find it by just following the crowds of people in the tiny and narrow street. Once found, they pass through a tunnel-like gallery where they could either leave their sticky notes and messages to Juliet on the wall or have an improvised call with her or with their beloved ones on the telephones placed there. Having gone to the other side of the tunnel, visitors are already in the courtyard. It houses the house itself, the famous balcony and a bronze statue of Juliet.

406-the-town-of-romeo-and-juliet-13The house is a museum nowadays and it has a small exhibition of paintings, frescoes, and ceramics and so on, connected with Shakespeare’s play. Most probably they belonged to the Capulets but it’s not been proven at 100%. On the other hand, tourists enjoy famous Juliet’s balcony where they pose for photos. Apart from this, there is no chance not to see the bronze statue of Shakespeare’s main character. It’s one of the most famous corners of the place because there are always crowds of tourists who stay in queue patiently in order for their turn to come so that they can rub Juliet’s right breast for good luck and internal love. That’s why the right side of the monument is much shinier than the rest of her.

406-the-town-of-romeo-and-juliet-14As Verona is la città di Romeo e Giulietta (the Town of Romeo and Juliet) there is one more place related to Shakespeare’s paly that is worth visiting, namely Juliet’s tomb. The red sarcophagus in which it’s believed that the young lady was buried is located in a small and dark crypt underneath the San Francesco al Corso Convent, not far from the house. This place is supposed to have been where the final scenes and events of the tragedy took place.

406-the-town-of-romeo-and-juliet-15After having enjoyed Juliet’s premises and after having visited her tomb, tourists love walking along the tiny streets of the town going into and out of the numerous souvenir shops, cafés and restaurants. While walking they see signs on the walls of churches and other buildings on which it is written: “Adige … 17 settembre 1882”. These marks show the level reached by water during one of the most serious and devstating floods in the town. It occurred on the 17th of September 1882 and the Adige River flooded several zones in Verona. Some buildings in the town just collapsed and several bridges were wiped out. That’s why locals marked the level of water on walls all over the town as a remembrance of the natural disaster.

406-the-town-of-romeo-and-juliet-16When Verona is visited, there is one certain place that cannot be missed. It is Arena di Verona built in the 1st century AD. It is a Roman amphitheatre situated in Piazza Bra. Once upon a time, in ancient times, it accommodated about 30 000 spectators while nowadays when opera performances are staged there, the capacity is lessened to 15 000 because of security reasons. For me the most fascinating thing about Verona and its Arena is touristalia di Verona. You know that ancient Roman feriae were too many in the Ancient Roman Empire. But nowadays there is one “feast” (i.e. touristalia) specially tailored for tourists. When they pop in Piazza Bra they will surely see “modern-ancient Roman gladiators” roaming in front of the Arena. Tourists might have an unforgettable photo taken with them against several euros. At the same time these ancient gladiators are too modern in sense that they use high techs. What do I mean?

406-the-town-of-romeo-and-juliet-17When I was in Verona some years ago, we passed by l’Arena di Verona on our way to Juliet’s House. I saw two Roman gladiators immediately and I remembered my previous nice experience with such ancient fighters in front of il Colosseo in Rome. So, I told myself that I would have a photo taken as a bright memo from Verona, too. So, on my way back from the other attractions of the town, I passed by l’Arena again. Unfortunately, I saw only one of them and I got disappointed.

406-the-town-of-romeo-and-juliet-18I went to him and asked him whether I could have a photo taken not only with him but with both of them. Hearing that I spoke Italian (broken Italian, actually), he asked me whether he himself wasn’t quite sufficient for me. I replied that he wasn’t and that “voglio due gladiatori solo per me”.  Hmmm …Obviously, my answer was quiet honest and direct, or I was too irresistible, so he just took out his mobile phone (the most recent model) and dialed the number of the second gladiator who was at the other end of la piazza at that very moment. That way I managed to grab the nicest present for my Name’s Day – May 6 (St George’s Day), i.e. a nice memo with two nice ancient Roman gladiators. 😉

Честит Свети Георги на всички. 🙂 Happy St George’s Day to all of you. 🙂 Felice giornoo di San Giorgio a tutti. 🙂


2 thoughts on “The Town of Romeo and Juliet

  1. Pingback: Le trappole per i turisti (Tourist Traps) | Smile...Laugh...Travel...Love...Be yourself...Enjoy Life

  2. Pingback: La Città delle Rose (The Town of Roses) | Smile...Laugh...Travel...Love...Be yourself...Enjoy Life

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