I guess everybody read at least once in his/her life the classic tragedy “Romeo and Juliet” by Shakespeare. This romance became a blockbuster movie back in 1996, rated 6.8 out of 10 stars on the IMDB website. How could one forget the loving angel played by Claire Danes or the best Romeo in the movie history, who was a young, sweet but sexy Leonardo di Caprio?
The wonderful and tragic tale is set in Verona, the very beautiful and historic Italian city. Many tourists, especially couples, come to the city to visit both Juliet’s house and tomb. They take pictures with her statue, which is located in the garden, under the balcony that became the symbol of love. They also leave notes and letters on the wall, as a sort of good luck charm for their relationship. Next to these, there are also the thousands of letters that lovers from all over the world keep on sending by mail to the heroine hoping for her blessing.
All the letters, both the one left in Verona and the one mailed, are taken care of by a club born in 1980 named The Juliet Club. The object of the club is to read and answer all the letters that start with the classical formula “Cara Giulietta” (Dear Juliet), which are not sent to a specific address, but simply to “Juliet, Verona”. It is not clear how these letters reach the right place: it looks like they find their way, that’s it.
As not all of the letters are in Italian, the volunteers sometimes need the help of translators. The government of Verona supports the organization, since it’s recognized, paying for stationery and postage. Unfortunately the stamps are not always enough, due to the huge number of mail received. It looks like the Giuliette (that’s how the volunteers are called, Juliet’s secretaries) get more than 5,000 letters each year, plus there are thousands of notes left behind at Juliet’s house and near her tomb.
The letters’ topic, of course, always deal with love: lost, gained, sought, past, new. People feel like they need someone to talk to, someone who lived a true and very deep love. They think she is the only one who can understand them, as most of them write in their letters.
All of the letters are handwritten, and no one is printed from a computer. There is also the chance to send an e-mail, but only 10% of the messages are sent from an e-mail account instead of a mailbox.
The Juliet Club became even more famous when the movie Letters to Juliet starring Amanda Seyfried was released two years ago. Ironically, the audience thought that the whole story was a set up, so people went to check on the Internet. By Googling “The Juliet Club”, they found out to their surprise that the club does really exists! The only difference is that in the movie the secretaries have a proper office, while in the reality they have a little red-brick office next to the railway tracks.
This work actually comes with great responsibilities, since it is not always easy to give suggestions to people the volunteers have no idea who they are. Moreover, most of the time the stories are complicated, strange, and even paranormal.
In the end, nothing seems strange to the Giuliette anymore, they are all open-minded and know how to deal with lovers from all over the word.
And you, what are you waiting for to write your letter? You definitely won’t regret it.
By Krizia Ribotta