More about Juliet's House

Sr. Contributor

Juliet's House is basically a tourist trap with a sexually abused statue, but it might make a nice date on your romantic Italian getaway...or a good place to pick up lovelorn singles.  

There’s a statue of Juliet and legend has it, if you rub her right breast you’ll find true love, which explains why the bronze is so worn down on that part.  You can also stick a note to the wall with chewing gum (which is technically illegal as well as gross) asking Juliet to grant your wish, or a love letter which will make your love eternal.  Maintenance throws these in the trash regularly. There’s also a lot of graffiti and vandalism.

That’s a shame, because the house itself dates back to the early 14th century, and is a genuine piece of history, even if the story of Romeo and Juliet is not. It used to belong to the Capello family, which some enterprising person decided kind of sounds like Capulet and started selling tickets.  The gothic arches and famous balcony were added on in the 1930s.  If you’re not good at math, that’s over 300 years after Shakespeare.  There are some cool antiques and movie costumes inside, but the main (free) attractions are the courtyard and the statue.  The balcony is a popular selfie spot if you want to pay the price of admission.

In case you slept through ninth grade English, or have been living underground in an "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" scenario, Romeo and Juliet is William Shakespeare’s immortal tale of raging hormones and patriarchal misogyny leading to terrible life choices and teenage suicide.  One or two people also think it’s the greatest love story of all time.

Romeo and Juliet probably never existed, certainly never lived in this house, were not even invented by Shakespeare, and Gwyneth Paltrow wasn’t involved in any way.  The story dates back at least as far as Ovid’s ancient Roman tragedy Pyramus and Thisbe, which was in turn based on an older Babylonian myth.  The feuding families of Montecchi (Montague) and Cappelletti (Capulet) first appear in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and variations of the names Romeo and Juliet appear in several pre-Shakespearian Italian Romances.

Romantics despair not!  Like all legends, there may be a kernel of truth somewhere in this mess of lies.  Luigi da Porto wrote an early version of the story which drew inspiration from his real life experiences.  As a young soldier, Luigi fell in love with with Lucina Savorgnan, daughter of a great house on the opposite side of a clan war.  They met at a ball given in celebration of a peace ceremony, but the next morning there was a Red Wedding-style massacre and a crapload of people died.

If you prefer love stories that don’t end in an apocalyptic bloodbath, you’re lame, but you can watch Letters to Juliet (2010) starring Amanda Seyfried, which was partially filmed at Juliet’s House.  If you’re emo, you can also visit “Juliet’s Tomb”, located nearby.