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.