On the Trail of Romeo and Juliet in Verona


Shakespeare’s tale of the star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, is famous the world over. The story unfolds in fair Verona, a prosperous town in Italy that makes for a very picturesque setting. Nowadays, visitors flock in their thousands to Verona to see Juliet’s tomb and house. Yet there is more to this tale than meets the eye. We recently went on the trail of Romeo and Juliet in Verona and were intrigued by the myths surrounding the iconic lovers. Let’s delve into the mysteries and try to separate fact from fiction…

Romeo and Juliet in Verona

The first thing to bear in mind is that William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is based on a legend, and Shakespeare himself never visited Verona despite setting several of his plays here. His inspiration for Romeo and Juliet was an ancient Italian legend, upon which the writer Masuccio Salernitano based a novella in 1476. The tale was subsequently retold by Luigi da Porto in 1524 with Verona as the setting and the main characters named as Romeo and Juliet. The Capulet and Montague families in Shakespeare’s version were genuine Veronese aristocrats mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy. 

 Juliet’s House – Casa di Giulietta

However from here on, the willing suspension of disbelief is called for, as Juliet’s House belonged to the Cappello family…It’s certainly a similar sounding name to Capulet and this resemblance was seized upon by enterprising locals who proclaimed it to be Juliet’s House. The house on Via Cappello dates from the 13th century, however the iconic balcony was actually added in the 1930s, created from parts of a 17th century sarcophagus. Most surprising of all, there’s not even a balcony scene in Shakespeare’s play! If you head inside, there’s a museum with the costumes and the bed that feature in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1986 classic film, as well as some other interesting exhibits.

costumes from the film Romeo and Juliet
However the real draw is the famous balcony and the statue of Juliet. When visiting, do your best to arrive at opening time (8.30 am from Tuesday to Sunday, from 1.30 pm on Mondays) and you might manage to recreate the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene yourself. Visitors can also pose with the statue of Juliet, and those looking for love might wish to rub her right breast for luck!

The statue of Juliet in Verona, Italy
Love Wall

In the courtyard of Juliet’s House, there’s a whole Love Wall covered with graffiti and notes from visitors. The local authorities had originally tried to impose fines on those defacing the wall but realized they were fighting a losing battle so they cleverly created special removable panels where you are allowed to write or stick a message.

Love notes left by the public at Juliet's House in Verona, Italy
At peak visiting times, it can get extremely crowded in the courtyard. We were lucky to be staying at Palazzo Victoria, a beautiful townhouse which has its own replica Love Wall, so getting a photo was a lot easier. We travelled with Classic Collection Holidays, the luxury tailor-made holiday specialist and had a fantastic time.

The Love Wall at Palazzo Victoria, Verona, Italy
The Juliet Club

One of the most charming Verona attractions,  The Juliet Club is a legacy of the Romeo and Juliet story. Made famous by the film, A Letter to Juliet, starring Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave, it was established to help the thousands of people suffering in love. Volunteers reply to all missives addressed to Juliet, whether delivered by email, letter or by hand.

Letterbox at The Juliet Club in Verona, Italy
Romeo’s House

This is where fiction definitely rears its head, as Romeo’s House actually belonged to the Cagnolo–Nogarola family. However, it is a genuine medieval building and bears a plaque on the wall with this unforgettable quote:

‘Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?’
‘Tut! I have lost myself; I am not here.’

As it belongs to a family, the house on Via Arche Scaligere cannot be visited but is well worth a look from the outside.

Romeo's House in Verona, Italy
Juliet’s Tomb – Tomba di Giulietta

Shakespeare chose the monastery of San Francesco al Corso as the scene of the tragedy where Romeo went to die next to Juliet. Located outside the city’s medieval walls on Via del Pontiere, Juliet’s Tomb also houses a museum of frescoes. A series of wooden plaques feature key scenes from the play…


…whilst you might recognize this statue! Shakespeare is seated next to another famous quotation from his play:

‘Eyes, look your last! 
Arms, take your last embrace! 
And, lips, oh you the doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss a dateless bargain to engrossing death!’

William Shakespeare statue in Verona, Italy
Entering the crypt where Juliet is allegedly buried in a simple grave, you feel a sense of awe and sadness.

Juliet's tomb in Verona, Italy
Medieval Verona

What is impressive about Verona is how they are keeping their medieval legacy intact. There are regular medieval markets held in Piazza delle Erbe, where the stall holders dress up in historical garb, and many other interesting things to do in Verona.

The medieval market in Verona, Italy is well worth a visit
If you’re fortunate, you might also chance on a medieval parade as we did – it felt like we were time travelling back to the age of Romeo and Juliet in Verona. So does it matter that elements of the Romeo and Juliet story in Verona are exaggerated or invented? To me, not at all, as we willingly visit film studios and other attractions that are based entirely on fiction. It just goes to show how timeless the play is, for its continued resonance with people from all over the world. Moreover, the city itself is one of the most beautiful that we have visited in Italy where competition is high!
What are your thoughts on this and have you visited Verona?

A procession in the medieval town of Verona, Italy
I will leave you with these immortal lines from Juliet herself:

Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.

Romeo & Juliet - Top Attractions in Verona, Italy including Juliet's House, Romeo's House, Juliet's Tomb and the Juliet Club
In association with Classic Collection Holidays

  • Untold Morsels

    Thanks for taking me back to Verona! I was there 20 years ago and fell in love with this beautiful city. Did you see the imposing statue of Dante in the main piazza? I love the amphitheatre too. Ahh fair Verona

    • Suze

      You must have been when you were a child then ;-). We actually didn’t spot the statue, definitely a reason to return!

  • I love Verona and just came back from taking my goddaughter there. I have to admit, the whole Romeo and Juliet thing is just a bit too frenetic for me. But, it’s a stunning city. I want to go when the opera is running!

    • Suze

      We were lucky to visit right when Juliet’s House opened but within an hour it was swarming with people so I can imagine it’s even busier at the height of Summer! I also want to go when the opera is on

  • Oh wow I loved Verona so much, this brings back happy memories! Stunning photos as usual!

    • Suze

      Thank you Becky, Verona is very photogenic!

  • Maram

    This is a lovely post. I am glad that there is someone who was interested enough to share this. I never knew that it was based on a Veronese legend. This was informative, thank you!

  • Maram

    This was a lovely post! I had no idea that the story of Romeo and Juliet was based on a Veronese legend. I’m glad there was someone who was interested enough to share this. Thank you!

    • Suze

      So pleased that you found it interesting, it really is a timeless story!

  • Punita Malhotra

    This is the first detailed post I have read on Verona with the Romeo Juliet theme. Really interesting to know all the little facts and details. The balcony is not everything 🙂

    • Suze

      I’m glad you enjoyed it – I hesitated to write it as sometimes it’s better to leave legends entirely intact but I find the mix of fact and fiction there fascinating!

  • Really interesting getting to know more about the story of the famous Romeo and Juliet – made me want to visit Verona!

    • Suze

      Verona itself is a gorgeous city, everything is pristine and the food is amazing too

  • Wow – great post!!! I had no idea all the connections between the city and Romeo & Juliet – I would absolutely love to visit!

  • Wow – great post!!! I had no idea all the connections between the city and Romeo & Juliet – I would absolutely love to visit!!

    • Suze

      I hope that you get the opportunity, Elizabeth!

  • What a lovely trip for anyone who has read Romeo and Juliet or heard about them at some point in their lives. Verona as a city looks promising and indeed beautiful.

    • Suze

      The city is as romantic as the play! Have a great week ahead

  • Violette

    It’s such a beautiful city and so interesting! Thanks for sharing!

    http://violettedaily.com

    • Suze

      It’s my pleasure, Violette – I’m glad that you enjoyed reading

  • The Juliet Club! I saw that in a movie. Love that place for keeping the romance alive. I’d love to stand in that veranda and call out for my Romeo. 😀

    • Suze

      Ha ha, you might well spot a handsome Romeo in the courtyard below!

  • In fair Verona, where we lay our scene… I haven’t visited but would love to. It looks incredibly photogenic and would be fascinating to walk the piazzas and lanes imagining scenes from the play taking place here (whether they did or not!) Reading this has made me want to see the play again 🙂

    • Suze

      I actually live opposite the Globe theatre and I’m long overdue a revisit! Hope you get to see Verona one day

  • This is such a beautiful, intriguing place!

    • Suze

      I’m sure you would love it, Emma!

  • Jen Ryder

    This was such a great read! So interesting to learn how the story/legend is being kept alive in Verona. I would love to visit Juliet’s house and tomb, and Romeo’s house too, even if they aren’t “real” 😀

    • Suze

      Sadly you can only see Romeo’s house from the outside but it’s certainly a charming medieval residence

  • The Romeo and Juliet connection would be one of my main reasons for wanting to visit!

    • Suze

      The town certainly lived up to its romantic reputation!

  • Lucy

    I definitely want to visit it looks beautiful but definetly not keen on the graffiti which is ironic as I love modern art Lucy x

    • Suze

      I can see what you mean about the graffiti, luckily they have kept it just on some removable panels so it doesn’t deface the old walls

  • How interesting that Shakespeare never visited Verona! I haven’t heard of the Juliet Club either – what an innovative idea! Verona is most definitely high up there on the bucket list!

    • Suze

      I’d be tempted to write a letter to the Juliet Club just to see the response!

  • I have heard so much about Veronia, but still haven’t been there yet. Your post makes me want to explore this city right away! So charming and romantic. Love your photos!

    • Suze

      I’m very glad that you enjoyed reading it, and you won’t be disappointed if you visit as it really is charming

  • Verona looks gorgeous! I would love to visit one day. The architecture looks beautiful.

    • Suze

      Fingers crossed that you get to visit!

  • Archana Singh

    I loved Verona when i visited few years back. The place was so beautiful with so much history and great architecture.

    • Suze

      I can see why you liked it so much, Archana!

  • I visited Verona a few years ago on a day trip and fell in love with how cut the city was! We visited Juliet’s House, as well as the monastery where Shakespeare wrote that she was buried, and although a lot of it is fiction, I still loved walking around the city!

    http://thecourtneydiaries.com

    • Suze

      I agree that it doesn’t matter that its fiction, in fact that sort of adds to its charm!

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  • Verona is such a beautiful city – so nice to read more about the history and background story of Romeo & Juliet!

    Miriam xx