For the first time ever, Casa di Giulietta in Verona, Italy, will welcome a pair of modern star-crossed lovers to spend Valentine’s Day in the footsteps of one of the world’s most recognizable romances. The 13th century townhouse has not been lived in since the 1930s, and has long been associated with Shakespearean tragedy Romeo and Juliet and its iconic scenes of courtship.
So, for couples wishing to sample the finery of a medieval court and serenade one another from a Veronese balcony, this is your moment. It comes with a sumptuous, candlelit dinner for two in Juliet’s pillared dining room – prepared by two Michelin-starred chef Giancarlo Perbellini, no less – as well as a private tour of the house and its accompanying museum, and a night in Juliet’s boudoir, featuring the same bed used in Franco Zeffirelli’s classic film adaptation.
Airbnb is offering the stay up for February 14 for free and, to throw your hat in the ring, applicants must pen their very own love letter, sharing a love story of their own and explaining why they and their partner would be the perfect people to pick up Juliet’s mantle.
It’s easy to assume that the house is tourist fluff, but the site has at least a little more history than its fictional former occupant might imply. Romeo and Juliet was based on old Italian tales of a deadly feud between the Montecchi and Cappelletti bloodlines, which some speculate is a reference to the Capello family that once lived within these walls.
Easier to debunk is the famous balcony – Shakespeare’s Juliet only ever appeared ‘at the window’ – and the current structure was added sometime in the 20th century. Literary license aside, today, the house is a major tourist attraction and a year-round place of pilgrimage for couples seeking high romance. A host of traditions reputedly leave you lucky in love: stroking Juliet’s statue, scrawling your name on ‘Juliet’s Wall’, and stowing little love letters in the brickwork.
The house featured prominently in 2010 Amanda Seyfried flick Letters To Juliet, and roughly 50,000 letters addressed to Juliet arrive in Verona every year. These are opened and replied to by a team of volunteers posing as the character – although one can only hope they don’t follow her example too literally.
Submit your entries here by midnight on February 2, 2020.