Desperately Seeking Romeo and Juliet in Verona

Two households, both alike in dignity 
(In fair Verona, where we lay our scene), 
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, 
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

William Shakespeare based or part-based 13 of his plays in Italy. Romeo and Juliet is the most famous of his two plays set in the northern city of Verona.

But where can you find Romeo and Juliet in Verona, Italy? Join me on a literary trail in Shakespeare’s Verona.

red and pink love locks

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Romeo and Juliet is not a true story

I’m sorry to burst a bubble from the get-go.

Shakespeare’s inspiration for the play was rooted in a passage in Dante’s Divine Comedy that refers to the Montecchi (Monatgues) grieving. In the 16th Century, this was spun into a play by Luigi da Porta, a writer from nearby Vicenza, with the snappy title A Recently Re-Discovered Story of Two Noble Lovers with Their Pitiful Death Occurred at the Time of Bartolomeo Della Scala.

Da Porta’s play about two love-struck nobles from warring families was set in 14th-century Verona. Shakespeare stuck to the story and the setting. There is no evidence to suggest that he visited Verona.

Two Gentlemen of Verona, written between 1589 and 1593, was also set here. Considered to be Shakespeare’s earliest – and weakest – play, the action in this comedy moves between Verona and Milan.

Romeo and Juliet in Verona: Map and Walking Trail

Hit the ground running with my map showing you the location of the Romeo & Juliet sights in Verona. For an interactive map with walking directions, click here or on the image.

map of places associated with romeo and juliet in verona italy
Places associated with Romeo and Juliet in Verona, Italy. Map data @ Google 2023

You can use this as a self-guided Shakespeare Verona walking trail. Simply follow the directions included in the map. Without deviations, the total distance is just under 2 miles (3 km).

However, if you want to get to know Verona in more depth take a look at these two guided walking tours that include Juliet’s House.

City Highlights Guided Walking Tour

This is for you if you want a quick and inexpensive guided tour that also visits Romeo’s House.

History and Hidden Gems Walking Tour

This slightly longer but affordable walking tour is for you if you want something more in-depth. Over two hours, a local guide will introduce you to the city’s key sights.

Juliet’s House (Casa di Giulietta)

With love’s light wings did I o’erperch these walls,
For stony limits cannot hold love out.

Casa di Giulietta is where Romeo Montague is said to have declared his love to Juliet Capulet. This 13th-century house belonged to a family called Cappello, which is Italian for hat. If you look above the entrance arch, you’ll spot a small stone carving of a hat.

Cappelletti, meaning “small hats”, is translated as Capulets in English. This association wasn’t lost on a few enterprising locals, who designated it Juliet’s House.  

Admittedly, this is a bit of a stretch, but it draws the crowds, who descend on this attraction in their droves. The amorous graffiti and notes that once papered the walls of its small courtyard are no longer there, but the heart-lock padlocks remain.

 Statue of Juliet

bronze statue of juliet outside an old building with stone balcony

For I will raise her statue in pure gold;
That while Verona by that name is known.
There shall no figure at such rate be set
As that of true and faithful Juliet.

Hopeful romantics from across the globe wait in line to grope Juliet’s bronze breast, said to bring good fortune in love. For this reason alone, it’s one of my favourite statues in Italy.

Juliet’s Balcony

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?

Juliet’s Balcony was only added in the 1930s and is formed from a 17th-century sarcophagus sawn in half.

Experts agree that the famous balcony scene does not appear in Shakespeare’s tragedy. The bard’s stage directions called for a window scene, not a balcony scene.

Inside Juliet’s House

old wooden bed with white linen

Juliet’s House has been restored in the style of a rich 14th-century merchant’s dwelling. It is home to a small museum with props and costumes from Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 movie, including a magnificent bed.

I was underwhelmed but stepping inside the house is your only opportunity to recreate the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene.

My top tips for visiting Juliet’s House

Juliet’s House is open from 9 am until 7 pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Check current opening hours here.

Although it’s free to visit the courtyard, you need a ticket to enter Juliet’s House and Balcony. This is included in the Verona City Pass.

You need to book your timed entry slot here. This applies even if you have purchased the Verona Card.

This is one of Verona’s most popular attractions and is beloved by tour groups. To avoid the worst of the crowds, visit close to opening time or from 2 pm onwards.  

Romeo’s House (Casa di Romeo)

Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?’
‘Tut! I have lost myself; I am not here.

Traditionally held to be the house of Romeo Montague, this 13th-century mansion belonged to the wealthy Nogarola family.

As this is a private residence, you can only view it from the outside. However, you can eat traditional Veronese dishes in the osteria on the ground floor.

Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore

cloister of cathedral of verona with bell tower in view

Then plainly know my heart’s dear love is set
On the fair daughter of rich Capulet.
As mine on hers, so hers is set on mine,
And all combined, save what thou must combine.

The crypt of the so-called Romeo and Juliet church is the setting for the marriage of the star-crossed lovers.  

Dedicated to the patron saint of Verona, this is one of Italy’s most beautiful Romanesque churches. It has a wonderful rose window by the 13th Century master Brioloto, glorious frescoes and a serene cloister.

Juliet’s Tomb (Tomba di Giulietta)

stone sarcophagus in a church crypt

Eyes, look your last! 
Arms, take your last embrace! 
And, lips, oh you the doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss a dateless bargain to engrossing death!

Tradition holds that the tragic finale of this famous love story took place at San Francesco al Corso. Within a small chamber in this former convent is a marble sarcophagus, claimed to be Juliet’s tomb.

As Juliet committed suicide, she could not be buried within the city walls. In the 13th Century, San Francesco al Corso was the only Franciscan monastery outside Verona.

The supporting evidence for this claim may be flimsy but that hasn’t prevented it from becoming a pilgrimage site. It has attracted the likes of Charles Dickens and Lord Byron.

Today, the site is home to Verona’s Museum of Frescoes. Entry is included in the Verona Card and you can check opening hours here.

The Verona Card

person holding a verona CITY PASS In front of roman arena

This can be an excellent deal, even if you are only spending a day in Verona. I ordered mine online before I left London, and picked it up at the city’s friendly Tourist Information Office.

The Verona Card comes in two flavours: 24-hour and 48-hour pass. You get free entrance to the city’s major sights, including a skip-the-line ticket for Verona Arena, and free public transport.

Final Thoughts

As the setting for Romeo and Juliet, Verona has become a beacon for romantics across the globe. So, does it matter that the star-crossed lovers never existed and the Shakespeare sites in Verona are fictional?

Not really. The popularity of these Romeo and Juliet sights in Verona demonstrates the timeless nature of the play. You can’t help but be swept along by a tide of romantic optimism.

And it helps that Verona is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy.

Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.