Wed Me in Verona: Have your Wedding on Balconey of Romeo and Juliet in Verona Italy
The Italian city of Verona, home to literature's most famous lovers, is trying to woo the world's couples into tying the knot on the scene of Romeo and Juliet's most romantic encounter.
Under the scheme, to be launched in the next few days, spouses-to-be would say their vows on the balcony from which William Shakespeare's heroine is thought to have summoned her Romeo.
Verona Tourism Councillor Daniele Polato said Verona wants to be a ''wedding capital'' to rival the world's other popular wedding spots.
''We'll be offering tourist packages, the whole shebang, just like Las Vegas does,'' he told local dailies.
''It's a way of using the city's artistic heritage to boost tourism''.
The privilege of getting hitched where Juliet was famously wooed by Romeo in Shakespeare's play will not come cheap, however.
The 'Wed Me In Verona' marriage license alone will cost Verona residents 600 euros, people living within the city catchment area 700, European Union citizens 800 and non-EU couples 1,000 euros.
This compares to the 50 euros required for a civil marriage certificate in Italy. Mayor Flavio Tosi, who has courted controversy in the past with moves seen as anti-immigrant, stressed that there was no anti-foreigner bias at play.
''It costs extra because the administrative costs are higher,'' he said.
HOUSE REOPENED AFTER CLEAN-UP.
Juliet's House reopened a year ago after being scrubbed free of messages and bubble gum left by visitors to the star-crossed lover's shrine.
Officials were forced into the clean-up after a failed attempt to bring the site into the modern communications age.
A strict graffiti ban was issued and visitors urged to send their vows by e-mail and SMS to a huge computer display in the house's lobby.
To officials' dismay, the youngsters who flock to the site opted to stick to their felt markers and gum.
Verona makes much of the House - and the revenue it draws - despite historians' claims there is scant evidence it is the locale immortalised by the Bard.
The more poetic messages left here are often cited in foreign newspaper and magazine articles about trips to the home town of Shakespeare's famous couple.
The residence is believed to have once housed Juliet because it was the family home of the Cappello family, who, according to legend, were the Capulets of Shakespeare's play.
In fact the address is Via Cappello, Number 23.
Experts believe the real Juliet Capulet (Cappello) would have lived in the house in the 12th century, if she really existed.
The highlight of any visit to the home is Juliet's balcony, where visitors try to re-enact the famous ''Romeo, Romeo'' scene.
Apart from leaving love messages, there is also a ritual linked to the bronze statue of Juliet which stands in the courtyard.
Visitors to the house often caress the right breast of the statue as it's believed to bring good luck.
For more about travel in Verona and day trips to Venice, Padua, and Vicenza visit WebVisionItaly's Veneto channel.
photo: balcony after last year's clean-up