The first step is mandatory: the 14th-century “tower house” in Via Cappello which popular tradition has always identified with the house of the Capulets, Juliet’s family. Actually, only after the purchase of the “stallo” of the Dal Cappello family by the municipality in the early years of the 20th century, Antonio Avena, Director of Verona museums, restored the building in neo-mediaeval style. He added to the façade an ancient sarcophagus that would later become the famous balcony, and a bronze slender statue of teenage Juliet by sculptor Nereo Costantini in the courtyard. That’s how this place became legend, a place where today people’s collective imagination can make the masked ball happen again, the party when love was born.
The meeting between Romeo and Juliet, the young descendants of two rival families, the Montagues and the Capulets, occurs during the carnival of 1303 at the time of Bartolomeo della Scala. Their story is first mentioned in Italy at the beginning of the sixteenth century in a publication by Luigi Da Porto and gets narrated again a few years later by Dominican father Matteo Bandello at a symposium of aristocrats in Verona countryside. The plot is a great success and it quickly becomes popular even beyond the Italian borders. We do not know if Shakespeare had ever been in Veneto, nor how he had come to know these sources, but we know that he was able to interweave historical fiction and imagination, imbuing his poetry with a universal love story. The story moves forward quickly in a span of just five days: meeting, love, struggle, escape, poisoning, death. A parable with a fast-paced rhythm that never slows down for a moment from start to its tragic epilogue, a timeless lyrical masterpiece on human emotions.