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Love Goddess 4#: Juliet, Verona and the Invention of Love December 23, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern , trackback

***One more chapter to go… Sorry again for answered emails. Also the internet connection is playing up so this may be the last chance I have to write before Christmas. If so happy Noel***

Traditions are invented constantly and love is a major human interest: hence the custom in Verona Italy of leaving love letters at the ‘shrine’ of Romeo and Juliet. We say ‘shrine’ actually this is the wall beneath the house of Juliet in Verona, Italy with the balcony. Only the balcony is not original, it was added by some cunning Fascist official in 1936. And the house… Well, the house was probably never owned by the Capuleti (Capulet) family. But why let these footling little details get in the way, particularly in Italy? After all, Dante’s house in Florence has nothing to do with Dante. Christopher Columbus’ home in Genoa has zero connection with the great Colon. And as to St Peter’s tomb in the Vatican…

But ‘shrine’ is a pretty good word given what goes in the precincts here for lovers from around the world turn up to leave love letters on the wall, in a charming custom that the Italian authorities have sensibly left in place: not least because a recent American romantic comedy made full use of the tradition. (Actually as with so many things in Italy it is illegal to put up the letters but the rule of law proves pliable when large numbers of tourists are involved). And don’t worry if you can’t go there is now a virtual wall, so you don’t have to pay a thousand dollars and have recourse to chewing gum to stick up the letter to your own true love. Not only this, the wardens of the Juiliet Club spend their time replying to the love forlorn who stick up letters or send them in.  Warning though: it makes for pretty depressing reading.

Beach was put on to this by a student who pointed out that the custom of leaving letters in Verona might be the ‘seed’ behind the custom of leaving letters on Beatrice’s tomb. This would all depend on how old the custom was. A quick look through Veronese sites (which we hope are reliable) tell us that the custom is decades old (1960s?, 1930s?) but that the locals draw graffiti instead of leaving letters. Any other invented love customs from around the world? Drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Beach is really into love goddesses at the moment.

PS Beach wrote this post thinking of his old aupair N whose visit to Verona was particularly memorable. She argued with her boyfriend on the train and they spent their time there shouting at each other at the station. Juliet’s balcony was not even glimpsed. ‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds/ Admit impediments’.

They are no longer together…