Shakespeare’s Verona: the itinerary on the trail of Romeo and Juliet
“There is no world without Verona walls,
But purgatory, torture, hell itself.
Hence banished is banish’d from the world,
And world’s exile is death.”
Does this sound familiar to you? These are the words that Romeo pronounces when he is exiled from Verona. The quote can be found on the plaque above the door that leads from Piazza Brà to Corso Porta Nuova, right next to the bust of William Shakespeare.
Romeo and Juliet is definitely one of the most famous dramaturgical compositions and it encloses many concepts and models that have been, and still are, of great inspiration for all kinds of works, not only theatrical and literary.
The setting of this masterpiece is our wonderful Verona. That’s why we would like to walk you through the itinerary that retraces the milestones and most iconic places of one of the most famous love stories of all times.
No doubt this is one of Verona’s most visited attractions. Start from via Cappello. Then walk through a short porch, marked by the ancient crest of the Guelph Capulet family. It will lead you to the courtyard, overlooked by the famous balcony, which we mentioned also in The 10 most instagrammable places in Verona. Here you will also recognize the bronze statue of Juliet, whose breast we suggest touching as it’s said to bring good luck!
Inside the house you will find a small museum that preserves ancient pieces of furniture, clothes and depictions of the couple. Moreover, under the porch at the entrance you will notice a wall covered with cards, written by visitors from all over the world to swear eternal love to each other.
The legendary house of the Montagues is located in Via delle Arche Scaligere. Unfortunately, it cannot be visited, as it is a private house, but you can still appreciate its grandeur from the outside: similar to a castle, the house is enriched by typical Ghibelline battlements and the remains of a tower.
You will also notice how close the houses of the two rival families are and, on the facade, you will find an inscription in memory of Romeo and Juliet’s love story:
“Oh, where is Romeo?
Tut! I have lost myself; I am not here, this is not Romeo, he’s some other where.”
The Town Hall and the Arche Scaligere
In Piazza dei Signori you’ll find the Town Hall, where – according to the legend – Romeo was banished from the city and sentenced to his exile in Mantua, at Bartolomeo della Scala’s behest.
Just a few steps away from the Town Hall, you’ll find the Arche Scaligere, a funerary complex in Gothic style also known for being the tragic theater of Juliet’s staged death. A fiction that, shortly after, cost the lives of both young lovers.
The Volto Barbaro
Let’s move to Piazza delle Erbe to reach the next stop of our itinerary dedicated to Romeo and Juliet. On the north side of the square, more precisely at the back of the Mazzanti Houses, you will find another key-place of the tragedy: the Volto Barbaro.
The name barbaro (lit. “barbarian”) originates from the frequent and bloody clashes between the Montagues and the Capulets that used to take place in this narrow and dark passage. It is indeed right here that Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, killed Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend. You will find a plaque in memory of the event.
Our itinerary could not end but with a visit to Juliet’s tomb (allegedly), that is located just outside the city walls, in a crypt of the monastery of San Francesco al Corso.
We will never know to what extent the story of Romeo and Juliet sticks to reality. Nevertheless, for the time this itinerary takes, we invite you to forget about the line that separates legend and history, to enjoy Verona through the eyes and words – but above all the heart – of one of Shakespeare’s most famous literary masterpieces.