Before I started writing this post I wondered whether it was going to be relevant enough to feature on my blog. Though as you can see, I ultimately decided to write and post it. I feel like you can’t separate creators from their work (and I don’t try to) so my opinions and views are ultimately tied to my work and this blog. I am my brand after all so here I am, and I will forever be that ‘annoying feminist hating all over everything’; or really I just try to question the status quo when necessary. Well on my recent visit to Verona, Italy I came across a long held tradition practiced by Italians and foreigners alike that just didn’t sit right with me.
Verona has a wide, rich history dating back to the Ancient Romans but perhaps it is most internationally famous for being the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. While the historical existence of ‘Romeo and Giulietta’ is largely doubted and the historical evidence for the Montecchi and Capuleti families seems to not even place them in Verona, the city features Casa di Giulietta and Casa di Romeo; or Juliet’s House and Romeo’s House. Juliet’s House especially, is the source of heavy tourism for the city. Her supposed house has been turned into a Museum and the courtyard where you can see ‘her balcony’ has been restored, with added gift shop.
Through the walkway to the courtyard there are, what looks like, thousands of love notes attached to the walls. Something a little sweet and romantic you think, until you look closer and realise these notes are attached by any means possible: sticky notes, tape, chewing gum… plasters… not the things you want to see anywhere let alone in a place seemingly dedicated to love. In the courtyard you can see ‘Juliet’s balcony’ which, even when you find out was probably added in the 1930’s, is a cute sight.
The main event however, comes in the form of the lovely bronze statue of Juliet at the end of the courtyard. Unfortunately, this is also where the questionable tradition previously mentioned comes into play. If you look at the above photograph you may see that Juliet’s right breast looks smoother and lighter than the rest of her. This is because of a lovely little belief that if you grope her right breast she will bring you luck in love. Nonsense of course, it brings nothing but wear to the statue (she has had to be restored in the past) and an unbelieving but not at all surprised expression to my and, hopefully, other social conscious peoples faces.
If you’re wondering what could at all be wrong with what many will call ‘a little bit of fun’, can I point your attention to the fact that while you can argue the statue looks older, Juliet is just 13 years old in the play. Even if that were not the case, why her breast? Why not cup her face or hold onto her hand which I would argue is infinitely more romantic and deserving of luck in love. No, it had to be her breast because what other part of a woman would you touch? It was sort of mortifying seeing a huddle of young school kids eagerly awaiting their turn to grope the statue and I had to ask myself exactly what is this teaching them? I am certain that if it were a statue of Romeo, no such tradition would have come about. Safe to say that of course, I got a selfie with the lovely Juliet but I decided for a much more friendly arm hold.
With all this said, Verona is an absolutely gorgeous city that I fully recommend visiting if you can. There are so many things to find from the millennia old city and the obvious problems aside, Juliet’s courtyard is worth a visit. I also definitely advise anyone that’s interested, to research Romeo and Juliet; from Shakespeare’s play actually being based on several literary works dating back from the 14th Century to the play not even having a single reference to a balcony!
So the house may not truly be a Capuleti house, the balcony may have been added in the 20th Century and everyone you see may be groping the 13 year old Juliet statue, but at least you can go and proudly take a selfie with her, grope free.