ArticleAn Abode of Love
Arena di Verona is a unique blend of recent past (operas written 200-300 years ago), distant past (a Roman amphitheatre), and the timeless star-studded sky. A much smaller structure, merely one kilometer away from the Arena, is a blend of a different but equally unique kind. A three-storey medieval house, belonging to a local nobleman, doesn't draw much attention - partly because of its side street entrance - but there are probably entire blocks and even some villages receiving less letters on any given day than that rather inconspicuous house. All those letters are addressed to “Juliet, in Verona”.
Not even a real person but a character in a play, Shakespeare's Juliet had long transcended the boundaries of her own time and place and became a symbol of… In fact of everything most humans cherish and crave for: love, devotion, courage, perseverance. Almost singlehandedly (with Romeo, that is) she put her native town of Verona on the spiritual map of human hopes and aspirations. Hence the letters. Hence creative and even academic speculations as to what might have happened had Juliet refrained from killing herself. Hence the multitudes from all around the globe that crowd the side street entrance to find themselves in front of a little bronze statue. Polished with thousands of lips and fingers, the statue's right hand and breast shine brighter than gold (the legend goes that by paying homage to Juliet, one becomes lucky in love).
People contemplate Juliet in silence for a while, then enter the house to wander aimlessly, stray to the famous balcony to “take a breath of fresh air”, quite literally. Then they leave. The house remains - and it's easy to imagine a slip of a girl in a lilac dress to glide-dance around the empty house as if looking for someone she hadn't seen among the visitors of her museum, a dreamy and somewhat sad smile on her face…