City of Verona – the city of Romeo and Juliet

As the UNESCO comments:

The historic city of Verona was founded in the 1st century B.C. It particularly flourished under the rule of the Scaliger family in the 13th and 14th centuries and as part of the Republic of Venice from the 15th to 18th centuries. Verona has preserved a remarkable number of monuments from antiquity, the medieval and Renaissance periods, and represents an outstanding example of a military stronghold.



What do you think of when it comes to Verona? To be honest, when I first heard about Verona, it’s because of Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet”. However, after reading the synthesis about the city on the UNESCO World Heritage website, I realized that Verona was inscribed in the list not because of Romeo and Juliet. Instead, it’s because of its history and culture. Do you know that Verona is a city of more than 2000 years of history and is the second among the cities in Veneto when it comes to liveliness and economic activities? Of course, thanks for being chosen as the setting of Shakespeare’s tragedy, we all know that it’s without any doubt a super popular international tourist destination. Unfortunately, also because of being the setting of the play, its history and heritage have been overshadowed. In a series of posts about Verona, I’m not only gonna show you why the city has been called the city of love together with Paris, but also gonna reveal to you its history and culture such as an introduction to the four historical churches, it’s Roman remains and Medieval and Renaissance buildings.

Another thing that surprised me when I started exploring this beautiful city was that I came to know Verona was Dante Alighieri’s first refuge and first hostel after his perpetual exile in 1302. He spent almost seven years in Verona, from 1303 to 1304 as the guest of Bartolomeo della Scala, Cangrande’s brother and from 1312 to 1318 as Cangrande’s own guest. It is here in Verona that he wrote his “De Monarchia”, many letter and part of the “Paradise”. It is here that he studied the ancient texts conserved in the cathedral’s Capitular Library, contemplated the Roman ruins and dreamt of a new emperor who would bring peace and justice. If you are interested in Dante I strongly recommend you obtaining a brochure called “Dante Alighieri in Verona” and it’s also available in English. You can follow the footsteps of this great poet and discover Verona on your own pace. The main attractions in this specific itinerary are San Fermo church, Leoni Gate, Juliet’s House, the Montague Quarter, Cangrande’s Palace and the Scaligeran Sarcophaghi, Piazza dei Signori and the Tribunal Courtyard, Pizza Erbe, Church of Saint Anastasia, Saint Helen’s Church next to the cathedral and the Canonical Cloister. I didn’t specifically follow the exact route but I did visit most of the attractions according to my own plan.

Talking about the attractions in Verona, I strongly recommend you buying the Verona card. It costs 18 € for 24 hours and 22 € for 48 hours and gives free access to

  • Arena
  • Lamberti Tower
  • Juliet’s House
  • Juliet’s Tomb and Fresco Museum “G.B. Cavalcaselle”
  • Roman Theatre
  • Lapidary Inscriptions Museum
  • Castelvecchio and Museum
  • Natural History Museum
  • San Zeno Church
  • Sant’Anastasia Church
  • Duomo
  • San Fermo Maggiore Church
  • Old Radios Museum
  • Centro Internazionale di Fotografia Scavi Scaligeri
  • GAM – Modern Art Gallery

I can assure you that all the popular must-see attractions are included and it’s a great deal if you wanna save money because if you buy them separately, only the entrance tickets to the Arena, Lamberti Tower and Juliet’s House already cost 24 €. This card also gives you free access to the public transport (please remember to scan your card every time you board the bus) and to the four historical churches, which I definitely recommend you visiting (San Zeno Church, Sant’Anastasia Church, Duomo, San Fermo Maggiore Church).

Before going to Verona, I read online some people were complaining that it’s quite expensive (6 €) to visit the tomb of Juliet because it’s just a imaginary tomb. In my defense, the whole story is just a play created by Shakespeare and we all know that we love it because we love the passion and the spirit of the two lovers. What’s more, the tomb is not just a tomb. It’s a symbol reminding us of the cause and the ending of the tragedy. I’ll talk more about it later. Anyway, my point is, with Verona Card, you can visit it for free. For more information about the attractions included in Verona Card such as the opening hours and single ticket prices please click here.

In this post, I’m gonna focus on the “Romeo and Juliet” side of the city and I recommend you obtaining a brochure called “Verona, city of love. On the ancient stones… in Juliet’s footsteps”. If you follow this itinerary you will discover the scenes written in the play or shot in the movies. The main attractions include Juliet’s House, Piazza delle Erbe, the courtyard of the old market, the Lamberti Tower, Piazza dei Signori, Arche Scaligere, Romeo’s House and Juliet’s Tomb. In the brochure, you will read about how these places are connected to the tragedy of the two young lovers and I believe you will feel their pure and uncontaminated love. I’m gonna focus on Juliet’s House and her tomb together with the fresco museum here. Now let’s start our journey with the world-known balcony of Juliet.

1. Juliet’s House

Juliet’s House is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 to 19:30 and on Mondays from 13:30 to 19:30. The standard entrance price is 6 € and is free of charge if you have the Verona Card. Nevertheless, if you only wanna take a look at the balcony and take a selfie with the statue of Juliet you can enter the inner courtyard of the house for free. The ticket is for actually entering the house. Is it worth visiting the interior of the house? Well, first of all you can actually be on the balcony.

Above is a picture that I took while on the balcony. In fact, the courtyard was crowded with a lot of people and can be divided into two parts. The left half of the people were busy taking pictures of the balcony which I was standing on while the right half were busy taking selfies with the statue of Juliet. It actually felt like a star to be on the balcony when facing so many cameras but the only difference was that the crowd was actually expecting you to be out of the scene lol. I felt a bit nervous when looking down from the balcony because it seemed I could hear the crowd saying “Oh, come on, why is it so hard to take a nice picture of the balcony alone!” Now let’s turn towards the right half of the crowd. Everyone seemed desperate to touch the breast of Juliet… I don’t know who started the rumor that if you touch Juliet’s breast you will have luck in your love life but all I want to say is “Poor Juliet…” Can you imagine how scary she is when seeing so many “evil hands” reaching out towards her…

In the play it is said that the two rival families lived in the center of the city with the Capulets in the elegant via Cappello and the Montagues near Piazza dei Signori. Juliet’s house is located at number 23 of via Capello and it in reality is a 13th century palace with an exposed brickwork façade and a gothic door, which was once the stables of the Dal Cappello family. Inside the house you will see furniture and paintings from different centuries as well as the bed and two costumes from Franco Zeffirelli’s film of the tragedy.

To be honest, Franco Zeffirelli’s version of the story is my favorite mainly because of the theme song “A time for us”. Shortly before and when I was in Verona, this song was the one that I listened to again and again. Written by Edward Snyder, Lawrence Kusik and Nino Rota, it’s one of the most beautiful, emotion and inspiring songs that I’ve listened to.

A time for us, someday there’ll be
When chains are torn by courage born of a love that’s free
A time when dreams, so long denied
Can flourish as we unveil the love we now must hide
A time for us at last to see
A life worthwhile for you and me
And with our love through tears and thorns
We will endure as we pass surely through every storm
A time for us, someday there’ll be
A new world, a world of shining hope for you and me

There are in total nine rooms inside Juliet’s House and you will be able to see artworks and furniture from different periods of time. For example, you will see frescoes dating from the 13th to the 17th centuries and 19th century paintings depicting the love story of Romeo and Juliet. On the top floor you will have a nice view of the San Pietro Castle and the ancient walls surrounding the city of Verona.

I’m sure it won’t be difficult for you to notice that the whole house is spotted with “books” of excerpts from Shakespeare’s play and historic images from George Cukor’s 1936 film (as the two pictures shown above). If you are a true fan of Shakespeare, isn’t it magical to wander around in the house of Juliet and read Shakespeare’s beautiful dialogues?

2. Romeo’s House

Before arriving in front of Romeo’s house, you will pass the old market yard, where Bartolomeo della Scala banished young Romeo from Verona and condemned him to live in Mantua. Compared to Juliet’s house, Romeo’s house is rather less touristy. It is in reality a crenelated palace with an inner porticoed yard. Unfortunately, tourists can only take a glance at it from the outside. On your way back from here to the Piazza Erbe, you will see the Volto Barbaro, located behind Case Mazzanti, renowned for being the murder site of Mastino I della Scala, who was stabbed to death in 1277 by political enemies belonging to the rival families. Probably inspired by this historical incident, Shakespeare chose this site to be the setting of the first street fight between Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin and Mercutio, Romeo’s friend, followed by Mercutio’s death. This accident also became the trigger of the tragic destiny of the two young lovers. I’ll talk more about these historical streets, houses, palaces and squares in the following posts, emphasizing on their cultural values, but if you wanna focus on the meaning of them connected to the play, as I said before, the brochure called “Verona, city of love. On the ancient stones… in Juliet’s footsteps” will give you a lot of information, for example it will guide you to see many plaques commemorating the scenes about “Romeo and Juliet” and you can find them on Corso Porta Borsari, Portoni della Bra etc..

I believe you are already familiar with the story so I’ll jump directly to the next attraction, Juliet’s tomb.

3. Juliet’s Tomb and the Fresco Museum

Juliet’s Tomb and the Fresco Museum are open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 to 19:30 and on Mondays from 13:45 to 19:30. The standard entrance price is 6 € and is free of charge if you have the Verona Card.

If this is just a random sarcophagus then I would agree with you that it’s nothing special. However, as Shakespeare wrote in his play,

A grave? O, no; A Lantern… For here lies Juliet, and her beauty makes this vault a feasting presence full of light.

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

Once entering the garden, you will see this excerpt from the play and a statue of William Shakespeare next to it. I guess this is the saddest attraction of all the places related to the story of “Romeo and Juliet”. If you ask me why an imaginary sarcophagus can be so famous, well first of all I think it’s because of the huge influence of the story. Secondly, Juliet’s tomb was also visited and mentioned by many famous poets, writers and scholars such as George Byron, Heinrich Heine and even Charles Dickens. It is here that you will learn about why this cloister has been chosen to place the grave of Juliet and have a quiet moment to contemplate the implications of the tragedy. After visiting the tomb of Juliet, on your way to the Fresco Museum you will come across ten bronze panels made by the artist Sergio Pasetto, depicting ten scenes from the play such as “The meeting”, “The kiss of the balcony”, “Night of love”, “Juliet’s burial”, “Romeo and Juliet joined forever” and so on.

In general, this attraction is composed of three major parts, that is to say the sarcophagus of Juliet, the Fresco Museum and the Lapidary Garden (all of them are included in one entrance ticket).

In the garden, you can see the “fountain with circular basin” from the mid-19th century, the semicircular basin from the 17th century, a sarcophagus reused as a fountain from the 18th century and most impressively, a painted steel sculpture called “With an open heart” made by Piera Legnaghi. this sculpture is inspired by the love story between Romeo and Juliet and tries to convey a message of universal love. The heart, a symbol of love, peace, solidarity and tolerance. As written on the info board, it shows that “only if every individual is willing can humanity be healed“.

Now let’s start exploring the Fresco Museum and learn about why Verona was once called the painted city.

The full name of the museum is called “Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle” Museum of frescoes and it was opened in 1973 in the area of the former convent of San Francesco al Corso to exhibit many mural paintings in the municipal collections which were detached from mansions, churches and convents in the 19th and 20th centuries. Why adding Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle in the front? Because this museum is dedicated to him, a pioneer in art history and modern theories in restoration. The purpose of establishing this museum is not only to show the public the glory in the past of Verona and why is was called the painted city but also to save the paintings from the buildings which were meant to be modified or demolished.

As shown from the gallery above, you will see mural paintings in the early 14th century in Verona, paintings in the church of Santa Felicita, mural paintings by Francesco Morone in the convent of St. Nazarius and St. Celsus, the painting from Palazzo Torelli in Mantua, paintings from Palazzo Fiorio della Seta, the cycle with the stories of Moses from Palazzo Ridolfi, the room of Muses from Palazzo Guarienti and learn about the fresco technique as well as the techniques of removing mural frescoes. Don’t worry, all the descriptions and explanations are in Italian and in English. If you are interested in mural paintings, I can assure you this is a wonderful place to learn and to appreciate.

In the last section of the museum you will see works by the most important Veronese painters from the early 16th century to the 18th century. For example, the “Three archangels” (as shown above) by Giovan Francesco Caroto, who painted it in around 1520 after a long period spent in Lombardy. The misty landscape in the background is the first example of Leonardo da Vinci’s sfumato.

Another highlight of the last section of the museum is the chapel of the Virgin (as shown above) and the workshop of Davide Reti. This chapel dedicated to Virgin Mary was decorated in stucco in 1617. The sculptures and the stucco ornamentation, with the statues of the two Virtues standing out, can be attributed to the workshop of Davide and Giovanni Battista Reti. I know that the fresco museum is probably irrelevant to the story of Romeo and Juliet but considering it’s included in the same ticket for visiting Juliet’s tomb so I decided to introduce it in this post. If you wanna know more about the historical or cultural side of Verona please don’t forget to check out my next three posts about this wonderful city.

It’s almost the end of my post about the Romeo and Juliet side of Verona and I’d like to finish it by quoting the famous words of Shakespeare:

“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.”

I’ve always wondered why did all the actions happen so fast, in only 5 days? Why did the young couple choose death over other solutions? Was it because their love was so strong that they couldn’t bear living alone in the world for even a minute? Or was it because as Friar Lawrence said, “there is power mightier than us that decided the fate of the two young lovers”? Anyway, the tragic play, attracted and keeps attracting attention of people of all the generations from all the world does leave us thinking about our own lives. An ordinary but extremely sophisticated theme, love, which happens and appears among us everyday and yet no one truly understands how to control it. Love is a potion and some say its magic while others say it’s poisonous. Love is an angel, always passing by unnoticed and some say he leaves his blessing while others say he leaves his curse. All in all, I believe that, as the song sings, “a time for us, someday there’ll be,
when chains are torn by courage born of a love that’s free”.

City of Verona – the city of Romeo and Juliet was last modified: March 5th, 2019 by Dong

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.