The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0442 Tuesday, 17 February 2004
From: Al Magary <
Date: Saturday, 14 Feb 2004 02:01:06 -0800
Subject: Juliet Writes Advice to the Lovelorn, But Romeo Is a Cat
Shakespeare's Juliet is an agony uncle in Verona
Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), at Khaleej Times Online, UAE,
February 13, 2004
VERONA, Italy - Die-hard romantics and broken-hearted of the world, take
note: William Shakespeare's Juliet is alive and well in Verona and ready
to answer your passionate love letters.
"Juliet" is in fact a 71-year-old businessman called Giulio Tamassia.
And "Romeo" is only his cat.
But such minor details do not stop thousands of people each year from
opening their hearts in letters addressed simply to:
"Juliet, Verona, Italy".
"We receive letters from everywhere. Many come from the United States,
most are written by women. But French men are the most romantic,"
Tamassia told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
Tamassia heads the local Juliet Club, a voluntary association he founded
in 1975 which seeks to promote the legend of Romeo and Juliet and the
image of their hometown. A dozen secretaries reply to letters in any
language, including Russian and Japanese, and offer advice or support to
It all started in 1937, when the first letter addressed to Juliet was
sent to Verona and was delivered to Ettore Solimani, the then custodian
of Juliet's supposed tomb, in the crypt of the Church of San Francesco.
Solimani decided to reply, and the tradition has been kept up ever since.
Tamassia's office is just a stone-throw away from the church where the
14-year-old Giulietta secretly married Romeo and where she is now said
to be buried.
This mild-mannered gentleman believes that in a world dominated by
e-mails, penning a letter in ink can still be useful.
"Writing with a pen is a more intimate process, it requires more
concentration and makes it easier to express one's feelings," he said.
Though many senders simply wish to let their feelings be known to a
sympathetic ear, Juliet is often forced to act like an Agony Aunt,
especially for lovelorn adolescents.
"Some simply want Juliet to bless their love affairs, but many write
seeking advice," he said. "Juliet tries to do her best, but she is never
And just like in the original Shakespearean tale, not all modern-day
Romeo and Juliet-style affairs have a happy ending.
"I remember a Turkish steward who had fallen madly in love with a
Chinese woman. He was desperate to marry her, but the Chinese
authorities wouldn't allow her out of the country," Tamassia recalls.
"We tried our best, we contacted consulates and embassies, but in the
end she ran away with somebody else."
Each year, on St. Valentine's Day, the Juliet Club awards a prize to the
best love letter it receives. An international literary prize, Writing
for Love, was introduced in 1996. Past winners include French actress
Catherine Spaak and British author Simon Mawer.
The St. Valentine Day award is presented by a celebrity with some
connection to the Juliet myth. This year's celebrity, Tamassia said,
will be Leonard Whiting, the co-star of Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 movie
"Romeo and Juliet".
What follows is an entry from 1998 winner Massimo Brioschi of Italy:
"Dear Juliet, Last night too I dreamt of love, and in my dream I didn't
realize it was love. The lightness of the situations and the words, the
spirit and the smiles left me no time to understand. It was only when
the dream had vanished that I understood. Love is in our memories; it is
an emotional adventure in the past. I've had enough of loves that the
present doesn't recognize, that I'm trying to escape from, in search of
the perfect feeling which appears, too late, in the memory of dreams.
How sweet to bathe in the feelings of the past. How sad to yearn for
intimacy that no longer exists. How stupid not to plunge into one's
emotions. How beautiful to hope for a single everlasting love!"
Visitors can access the Juliet Club at the following Internet
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook,
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>
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opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.