Juliet’s Balcony, From Romeo & Juliet

I will be doing some longer posts on my break away in Italy, from the sightseeing to the bookshops that I discovered, over the next few weeks. Today I thought I would do a special post on the most literary of the venues we went to in Verona which is, of course, Juliet’s balcony which is said to have been the inspiration for the story behind the story of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ if that makes sense.

I have admitted before that I was thoroughly put off Shakespeare by my English teachers at school, yet ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was my favourite of the plays we studied, I was also of the generation who ran to see Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation when it came out at the cinema, all edgy and new, which we all thought was amazing. So seeing ‘the alleged ledge’, as I kept calling it, was on my list of places to go (so was Juliet’s tomb but we kept missing it when we were hunting for it) if we could. What amazed me is what a Mecca it has become for lovers; the walls of the entrance to the courtyard are just covered in graffiti of lovers, love hearts and initials.

So much so that there isn’t any space for anymore and so people have started flattening chewing gum and writing in permanent marker on those chewy circles when they have dried, or sticking notes and post its through the same method. Clearly the tourist board aren’t too happy with that and so they have started a new craze which is to padlock your initials, and therefore love, to chains around the courtyard instead…

Oddly enough all the nearby shops have cottoned on to this and you can by a variety of padlocks in all sorts of colours and sizes. We saw endless girls running, some squealing, to the shops (invariably dragging a slightly embarrassed beau with them) and buying a padlock there and then. Well, who were we not to join in?

Alas we didn’t get to see the tomb where it all ended so dramatically, and which I suddenly desperately wanted to find, nor did we visit Romeo’s house (The Beard said ‘his house isn’t famous for anything, let’s be honest’) or have a picture touching the statue of Juliet’s breast (why do people do this?) but it did make me ponder if I should turn to Shakespeare again? I have been reading some of his poems on and off since and I am seeing them in a new light. Anyway, I thought with its literary twist you might like to see Juliet’s ‘alleged ledge’, have any of you been and left your mark? Oh and do any of you know if it is true that apparently the story of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was a local fable which Shakespeare ‘borrowed’ and was inspired by? That is what we heard while we were there. Hmmm, intriguing.

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “Juliet’s Balcony, From Romeo & Juliet

  1. I remember being quite shocked at all the chewing gum when I went – it’s not very romantic. I don’t remember the padlocks being there, but have seen them all over the rest of Italy. You see them a lot on bridges for some reason (I think you’re supposed to throw the key into the river… but I might be wrong) I think there’s a bridge in Rome and one in Florence that’s quite famous for the lover padlocks. Never done it myself though…

    • It isn’t romantic I have to agree, yet there is something strangely artful about it all when its in front of you. Plus its the whole amount of it and then you think about the amountof couples who have been and paid homage/been dragged there.

      We noticed the river padlock thing in Verona.

  2. gaskella

    My daughter is called Juliet, chosen from Shakespeare (she was very nearly Isabella, then Rosalind, before settling on Juliet – all very Shakespearean). We took her to Verona (she was about 8, and wouldn’t touch the statue). I just hope her future love life is different from her namesake’s – we have some years to go as she’s not yet 12 (although that was Shakespeare’s Juliet’s age wasn’t it?)

  3. I haven’t been though I’d like to. Do you mean “the statue of Juliet’s breast” (which sounds a little rude) or do you mean “the breast on Juliet’s statue”?

    • No I meant the rude one, they were all touching it and I wasn’t sure it was evry appropriate but apparently it was the thing to do while you were there, well for lots of tourists it wasn’t. I didn’t, I sneered instead.

  4. david73277

    I think the local fable thing is true. Shakespeare was, of course, a writer of genius, but dreaming up original plots was not one of his strongpoints. Most of his stories, Romeo and Juliet included, already existed.

    • Hmmm I find that intriguing, it makes me ponder the whole nature of his writing. Should we take it from that that really he wasn’t very original in his thinking, just in his prose ;) I am joking.

  5. I have been! And Verona is so so lovely. There’s actually a spot not too far from there with a well and locks all around it too. It’s a much quieter spot and really lovely in this little courtyard.

    Ahhh, Italy. I cannot wait to see more of your posts.

  6. I remember being shocked when I visited by the not-romanticness of the balcony and courtyard. But then, I was young and thought in cliches. Maybe there is something to be said for all the graffiti and padlocks celebrating love in that spot.

    • I think I like the fact that though its a bit unsightly and a bit naughty it does show a lot of love on those there walls, and it is nowhere near the actual balcony itself.

  7. Am waiting to hear your posts which will follow on Italy. Such nice snippets of information.

  8. Shakespeare borrowed the plot for Romeo and Juliet. Of his plays only a handful have original plots: Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest are two, I think.

    Your post reminded me of seeing Oscar Wilde’s grave in Paris. It’s covered with lipstick kisses. We don’t carry lipstick when we travel, so we didn’t kiss it.

    By the way, instead of reading him, go to a really good production. Read if afterwards if you like it.

    • The last Shakespeare I saw was an open air version of A Midsummer Nights Dream in London and my big sister was in it. It was rather good indeed.

      I have always wanted to visit Oscar Wilde’s grave and indeed that cemetery.

  9. i loved the film about the ladies that replied to all the letters sent to Juliet ,all the best stu

  10. Pingback: A Mini Trip to Florence and Firenze… | Savidge Reads

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