Tomba di Giulietta – Juliet’s tomb
Historical Notes. Regardless of the ancient site that hosts it (the convent, which previously belonged to the Cappuccini Monks, dates from the XIII century), Juliet’s tomb as we now see it dates only back to 1937. That year, the Director of Veronese Museums Antonio Avena decided to give a new face to the site most identified as the place of burial of the Shakespearean heroine. An ancient red marble sarcophagus had lain in the garden of the former convent for decades, perhaps even centuries. With no cover, the completely empty sarcophagus was indicated as the place of burial of the beautiful Juliet, as early as the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Another important event created the final push to transform the site that hosted Juliet’s tomb: a stay in Verona by the troupe of Metro-Goldwin-Mayer, which was then seeking ideal settings for its new colossal film, Romeo and Juliet. The film (starring Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard), was not recorded in Verona, but the extraordinary success that it enjoyed allowed Avena to imagine an imminent, conspicuous flow of tourists to Verona, in search of the places described in the film. Here, however, the final scene of the double suicide was not set in the cloister of the convent, but in a crypt: it was probably on inspiration of the cinema choice that the museum director decided to give the sarcophagus a more suggestive backgound. Today, Juliet’s tomb is the sight where civil weddings are celebrated: many couples come especially from abroad, to crown their dream of love in the place where Romeo and Juliet saw their hopes shattered. And here, in the den illuminated by the high gothic windows, where the empty tomb awaits the romantic tribute of visitors, a singular tradition was born: the habit of addressing messages of love to “Juliet, Verona”. An entire squad of secretaries gathers these messages and answers them, because the story of Juliet is legend, but the throes of love that afflict men and women from every continent are a reality.