Verona was and still is a very important politic and economic center. But it is also a city rich in history and in magical and fascinating atmospheres.
Verona has become famous in Italy but also in the world, especially thanks to the Shakespeare’s works here located. The Bard never had the chance to visit Verona, but he got an idea about it by reading works of Luigi Da Porto, Masuccio Salernitano and Matteo Bandello. These writers inspired him especially for his most famous and well-known opera in the world “Romeo and Juliet”. Shakespeare imagined Verona as something similar to Venice, with mill runs and gondolas, maybe inspired by the Venetian painters at the court in London. Shakespeare probably had a special relationship with the image he had created on the city, so that he set or gave birth to his characters here in Verona. We must remember that also “The two gentlemen from Verona” and “The taming of the Shrew”, which takes place in Padova but the main male character, Petruccio, who is form Verona. It is just thanks to him that Verona is one of the most present Italian cities in the place names of the new continents. The various Verona in US, Canada and Australia derives exactly from his works.
The famous poet George Byron had already stated the importance of the role had by Shakespeare in molding the fame of the city in the world. In his letters, he emphasized how Veronese argued with obstinacy the authenticity of the story of Romeo and Juliet. Moreover, Verona people for a long time were in search of the real places where the story took place. The first place to be “rediscovered” was the grave of the two lovers, identified in the 16th century in an empty sepulcher in red marble from Verona, near a monastery. There were many famous people that gave tribute to the two lovers in this place, including Madame de Staël, Mary Louise of Austria, Heinrich Heine, Charles Dickens and George Byron himself. The tomb was then moved from the garden to the cloister and in 1868 under cover and finally in 1937 thanks to the work of Antonio Avena it was moved to a loggia in Romanic Veronese style which was rearranged in a scenographic way using two underground rooms transformed into a Gothic crypt, where the tourists can still admire it.
Juliet’s house was identified, instead, in a medieval house with the crest of a hat; it was the home of the Capuleti family, which Charles Dickens described in Pictures from Italy as a miserable small hotel. In fact, following the eighteenth – nineteenth century rearrangements, it appeared to have become a popular railing home, so Antonio Avena used salvage material and inserted a new balcony formed by a slab of marble that was in a neglected state in the courtyard of the Castel Vecchio. The unprejudiced restoration work had turned Juliet’s house into the new symbolical image of Verona, together with the Arena.
The last place on chronological order to be recognized was Romeo’s house, which shows still intact its nature and the appearance of a fortified house, which belonged to the Nogarola family, trusted friends of the Scaliger family. Rather than singular places linked to the tragedy, however, it is the idea of the shining medieval Verona where the story would have taken place that make fell in love viewers, readers and tourists. There were actually the two families named Montecchi and Capuleti (Capulets and the Montagues) (or Cappelletti), although the tragic and fascinating love story is the fruit of the great Shakespeare’s imagination.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
By Martina Meneghetti with support from alberghi verona centro
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