Romeo and Juliet come to life every year in mid-February and romance abounds as Verona hosts its special festival dedicated to lovers all over the world
‘Fair Verona is where we lay our scene…’ and beautiful indeed is this medieval city in the Veneto region of northern Italy, built around the meandering course of the Adige River. It was here that William Shakespeare set his famous play, ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Verona has since been synonymous with love and has created a romantic realm based on the intense, dramatic and impossible love of this couple whose love story, although fictional, resonates all over the world.
According to historical sources, the Bard of Avon was never actually in Verona. However, it’s thought that his great love story may have drawn inspiration from ‘The Newly Rediscovered Tale of Two Noble Lovers’ by 16th century writer, Luigi Da Porto, as many details would seem to reflect the real-life city on the banks of the Adige.
In homage to the tale of the two ill-fated lovers, Verona has brought to life the key settings where the story unfolds. Places like the Casa Montecchi (Montague family) and the former residence of the Cappelletti (Capuletto) family in Via Cappello, with the statue, Juliet’s balcony and the Casa Museo di Giulietta museum dedicated to Juliet.
The stunning city of Verona is the perfect destination for a getaway à deux as it retains its romantic charm all-year-round, with many little nooks and crannies, restaurants and wonderful views. Remember, though that in February it tends to get pretty busy with aficionados of the ‘Verona in love’ festival. If you succumb to romantic temptation, let yourself be guided by the lights that decorate the city at this time of year and you’ll find yourself in the Piazza dei Signori and the Cortile del Mercato Vecchio. Here you’ll find numerous stalls selling typical products. If you’re looking for a special gift, you’ll be spoilt for choice with lots of quality jewellery for sale and handmade objects, sweets and other delicacies to buy and share with your loved-one.
During the festival, a special stage hosts talented musicians and artists, and the whole city celebrates love. Theatres, restaurants, bars, bookshops and shops put on special events, such as romantic themed dinners, book presentations and shows on the theme of romance and love. There is also a film festival dedicated to love and even a half marathon for those lovers of sport.
What’s more, the city council’s initiative ‘Marry me in Verona’ even makes it possible for couples to get married in Romeo and Juliet’s home city. Couples from all over the world have fulfilled their dream of celebrating their wedding in some of the city’s most iconic venues linked to Shakespeare’s love story.
Similarly, there are special performances in the Teatro Nuovo and Casa Shakespeare. In reverence to the star-crossed lovers, the Club di Giulietta, or Juliet Club, has a host of secretaries who respond with passion, patience and dedication to the millions of letters they receive from lovers who confide their amorous torments to them and ask for advice. There is even a Museum of Love Letters.
If you can’t make it in February, not to worry, as in the summer Verona hosts a touring version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by the Teatro Nuovo which gives you a unique opportunity to experience first-hand the story of the two lovers in the very places where the tragedy took place.
Amidst all this love, don’t miss places like the Ponte Pietra Roman Bridge and have a glass of wine and aperitif in its nearby taverns. The Ponte Scaligero is also a must-visit. Take the cable car up to Castel San Pietro for one of the most spectacular views of the city. Experience a sunset in Piazza Erbe and then climb the Torre dei Lamberti. And don’t miss a concert or a theatre show at the Arena or the Roman Theatre; or the Opera, a true institution in Verona.