25 Feb Verona commissions replica ‘Juliet’ statue after one too many brushes with tourists
It is meant to bring good fortune for those who are unlucky in love, but a tradition of rubbing the right breast of a bronze statue of Juliet has left it looking decidedly the worse for wear.
The caressing touch of tens of thousands of thwarted romantics has done such damage that this week the statue was removed from the courtyard of what is known as Juliet’s House in Verona, the city where Shakespeare set his tale of “star-cross’d lovers”.
A local foundry has been commissioned to make an exact replica of the bronze at a cost of 20,000 euros (£16,500).
The original statue will be consigned to a museum, far from the daily assault of the broken-hearted and incurably romantic.
“The statue is showing signs of wear and tear, not just from being touched by so many tourists but also because of rain and the effects of the weather,” Erika Righetti, from Verona city council, told The Telegraph.
“It will take about a week for the foundry to make a mould so that they can produce a new statue, which will then replace the old one.”
The wear and tear to the statue, which is of modern creation and has stood in the courtyard since 1972, included a crack in Juliet’s right breast, which has been worn shiny by contact with so many hands, and another fracture in her right arm, which people often lean on as they have their photographs taken.
“People climb up onto the base of the statue and hang onto her,” Giulio Tamassia, the president of the Juliet Club, an association linked to the tourist site, said last year when the alarm was first raised.
Flavio Tosi, the mayor of the town in northern Italy, said: “It’s an unusual event for our city, given that that the statue of Juliet represents, along with the Roman arena, the best known symbol of Verona in the world.”
Juliet’s House is a big money-spinner for Verona – it was visited by nearly 250,000 tourists last year – despite the fact that Romeo and Juliet were both fictional characters.
It is not the first time the authorities have had to intervene to save “La Casa di Giulietta”, a former inn, from the crush of visitors.
Heavy fines were introduced in 2012 for tourists who were leaving sentimental notes stuck to the brick walls of the courtyard, often using wads of chewing gum.
The custom of leaving love notes, many of them addressed to the fictional Juliet, was celebrated in a recent film, Letters to Juliet, starring Vanessa Redgrave and the American actress Amanda Seyfried.
The film told the story of a young American tourist who stumbles on one such missive shoved behind a loose brick in the courtyard beneath Juliet’s balcony.
She discovers that it was written by Redgrave’s character more than 50 years before, expressing regret that she left behind a handsome young Italian, Lorenzo, to return home to England.
Each year sack loads of letters addressed simply to “Juliet’s House, Verona” arrive from around the world.
Replies are written by a team of local volunteers from the Juliet Club, who occupy an upstairs office near the courtyard.