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Juliet
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Arty Fact

More about Juliet

cschuster's picture

Sr. Contributor

If you're a fan of getting up close and (very) personal with tourist attractions, then have I got a surprise for you.

Although, whether it's a good or bad surprise depends on your point of view. Costantini's life size Juliet statue is one of the main attractions at the house the Veronese government claims belonged to the family that inspired the better half of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Costantini took life-size to mean, "The size of a thirteen-year old girl, cause that's how old she is in the play." Everyone else in the world heard, "Life size statue of a thirteen-year old girl," and took it to mean her right boob is good luck. So now, thousands of grown-ass men and women a year, who apparently want to be on "To Catch a Predator", fondle this statue of Juliet because they want to get lucky. Still, if you consider that Costantini modeled her pose on Botticelli's Birth of Venus it's... no, it's worse. The Venus in Birth of Venus was based on a 16-year old girl. So yeah, this is a collective moral failure for everyone.

All the hand action, in concert with the area's weather, formed cracks in nooks and crannies up and down the statue. So, naturally, people started shoving letters and personal objects inside the statue until it had to be replaced. The original is inside the building, and a replica has taken its place outside. Visitors are invited, however, to shove letters into a wall in the compound's courtyard asking Juliet advice like, 1. She's real, 2. She's Dr. Drew on Loveline, and 3. Like her relationship worked out super well in the first place. Fifteen volunteers gather the letters and answer them "from Juliet."

The house did actually belong to the Capullo family, the real life models for Shakespeare's Capulets. The Veronese government bought the house and renovated it in the 1930s (it served as an inn previously) to look like a gothic mansion. Everything's fake, even the balcony that people actually propose to their loved ones on. To get the gothic look for the balcony, they upcycled spare parts from old sarcophagi, because irony maybe? Costantini even used statues of allegorical figures on top of the Scalageri tombs down the street as part of his basis for Juliet, because double irony? All the facts make it hard to tell if the Veronese thought this was a good idea or if they just wanted to punk all the tourists.

The town got the idea for commissioning the statue to go in the "Capulet" courtyard after Franco Zeffirelli directed that 1968 film of Romeo and Juliet (the one you probably slept through in high school English (or watched and loved, no judgment on the movie here)). Verona's Lions Club chapter paid for the statue and then had Costantini make a bunch of statuettes for them to give to their twinsie chapter in Stratford upon Avon, where Shakespeare was born. Really. The plaque on the statuette in England actually calls the two chapters twins.