“Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight!
For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.
Falling in love with characters in the books or movies is nothing new for many of us . There is also nothing unusual in worshipping a character in story much more than real like heroes (and heroines) . There is something very basic about tragic love stories that attract people across the world. Come to think of it , tragic tales of couples belonging to feuding families is one of the pet themes of romances in all languages of the world . Perhaps that is why they say, It's Love that makes the world go round . You can’t help realizing the depth of this thought when you are in the city of Verona.
|The Famous Balcony of Juliet|
A beautiful, historical city of Italy, Verona, has many claims to fame. But of course, top of the list is the immortal tale of Romeo and Juliet. The city attracts hundreds of tourists every day just to visit the so called balcony of Juliet and the supposed tomb of Juliet . So solid is this association of the tale with this city that the city claims to be la città dell'amore- the city of love, even in its not so touristy affairs. The historical authenticity of these claims ( though largely immaterial for the believers ) is however, not as solid . But then, that is the power of written word. Most of us know about these characters from Shakespeare’s version where the scene is set in the fair city of Verona . Who cares that it was perhaps Siena and not Verona where the original story was set in the Italian version which inspired Shakespeare’s tale .
Verona is a beautiful town, with abundance of art and natural beauty . The city , remembers its historical past with a mixed emotion . During World war II , many of its Churches received a bad fate . A lot of art was destroyed. The city fall into the hands of the French and in many places , one finds remembrance of those- not so happy days . With bombing and bans on church, destruction of life and faith in recent past – it seems incredulous that the city today relates more with a legendary ( yet tragic) love tale of star crossed lovers than any other bare fact of life . Its love and music that provide lifeblood to the city . The former comes from the tale of Romeo and Juliet and the latter from a great tradition of Opera and jazz fests of the town. One can almost feel the romantic heart of the city in many not so romantic ways. The way corner of the city lanes celebrate the verse of the Bard and even the road leading to Juliet’s Tomb named after the English poet who made her immortal and famous across the world . No wonder Juliet still lives in her ‘Casa’ at Verona and if you choose to believe she would even talk to you through letters and e-mails .
Come to think of it , where else the famous couple would live when Romeo himself famously proclaimed:
“There is no world without Verona walls
But purgatory, torture, hell itself.
Hence “banishèd” is banished from the world,
And world’s exile is death.”
In the beginning ,it may sound very tourist like propaganda and even silly to many of us but its only when you see old couples holding hands in the lines like teenagers to pose at Juliet’s balcony or to put a lock on the metal door , marking their love that you realize the power of this celebrated emotion . Still not convinced about the universal appeal of this emotion ? Just go to Juliet’s tomb and you will find a statue of Chinese duo Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, a love story much similar to that of Romeo and Juliet .
True or false, historical fact or a poet’s imagination, Verona celebrates its Juliet love every single day . The story lives inside the hearts of hundreds of its fans and after all , as the poet himself said –
“For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”