In a courtyard in Verona, Italy a young girl stops to tuck a piece of paper in the crevice of a stone wall just below a tiny balcony. One of thousands of notes that carpet the wall, hers is barely noticeable. She has left it here at Casa di Giulietta, the home where Juliet Capulet of Shakespeare’s tragic love story lived, in hopes that the secretaries of Juliet will respond. It’s a sweet tradition that has been observed by lovers from every age, language and background. It’s also just one of connections shared between the British Bard and the country of Italy where nearly a third of his works were set.
Why is Romeo and Juliet Set in Verona?
Romeo and Juliet made Verona famous, turning a lovely but unremarkable town in the shadow of Venice in northeast Italy into one of the world’s most romantic destinations. Many visitors wonder why Shakespeare chose this setting to lay the scene of his most popular play. The answer is quite simple: he kept to the source material. William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is based on Italian writer Luigi da Porta’s A Recently Re-Discovered Story of Two Noble Lovers with Their Pitiful Death Occurred at the Time of Bartolomeo Della Scala.
Da Porta set his play in 14th century Verona, writing about two young nobles living in neighboring castles who fall in love but are torn apart by their warring families, to tragic effect. Da Porta wrote the original story after having his own heart broken, and Shakespeare discovered and reinterpreted his own version just a few decades later—keeping the devastating conclusion and setting the same.
Places You Can Visit from Romeo and Juliet’s Verona
“In fair Verona, where we lay our scene” is how Shakespeare describes the setting of his most famous love story, Romeo and Juliet. So poignant is the tale that modern-day lovers still flock to the cobbled streets of Verona, if not for historical accuracy, then certainly for the romance it embodies. When your travels take you to this most romantic of cities, here are some of the Shakespearean sites to see while in Verona:
The Balcony of Casa di Giulietta
The site where Romeo is said to have declared his love to Juliet is just outside the city’s main promenade. Although added to a suitably old house in 1936, and doubtfully the original, it draws romantics in droves and is the site for many a proposal and declaration of love. Juliet’s Balcony is one of the most popular sites to visit in Romeo and Juliet's Verona.
Entered through a little arched passageway set inside Casa di Giulietta’s main courtyard, the small statue of a girl is a favorite for visitors. Found just a few feet from the balcony from which she and Romeo first confessed their love, this statue of Juliet effectively humanizes this tragedy we all know so well. Before you leave, take a moment to rub the right breast of Juliet, a tradition no one seems to be able to explain.
In the story, Juliet dies in a 13th century Franciscan convent. While no name is mentioned, the site at Via del Pontiere was the only one outside the city walls at the time when the events took place. Literary fans, tourists, and locals alike come here to pay tribute to the tragic tale.
Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore
Inside this church you’ll find the crypt where Romeo and Juliet supposedly secreted away to be married. The Romanesque building features a “wheel of fortune” rose window and 12th century bronze doors.
Piazza delle Erbe
Romeo and Juliet may have never existed, but Italian poet Dante did write of two feuding families. No doubt, the Montecchi and Cappelletti clans frequented the finest square in Verona. Ringed with cafes and shops, the piazza is also home to the Baroque Palazzo Maffei and the frescoes of Casa Mazzanti.
Visit Shakespeare’s Verona with YMT Vacations!
You can visit Verona and these legendary Shakespearean sites when you travel with YMT Vacations. To make your plans to join Bella Italia Tour, our guided vacation through Italy, contact your consultant or YMT Vacations at 1-888-756-9072.