Once upon a time, there was a man called Shakespeare who penned a story set in Verona, Italy called Romeo and Juliet. And though the story was fictional, the Casa di Giulietta, a lovely courtyard with a house and balcony at 23 Via Cappello in Verona, as well as a bronze statue of the 13-year-old, still exists.
Fast foward just a few years to me watching the trailer for a new movie called Letters to Juliet. My eyes are fixated on the beautiful Italian scenery, like a family clinking glasses at a huge table set among lush, green Tuscan vineyards, aerial shots of Verona and Siena, wrought iron balconies suspended in mid-air set against the background of stone and terracotta walls and characters dining on a Veronise piazza, that makes my pulse race. But my brain is saying “Oh, no, not another overdone, cheesy, predictable, Hollywood love story.” [Insert eyeroll here.]
Generally, when I see these type of trailers, I’m not one to run out to the theater and if I choose to watch it at all, for the setting and glimpses of the Bel Paese, it’s a quick add to the bottom of my Netflix queue.
But, as I found myself playing the trailer every few days, I also happened upon this article from USA Today, which may have just shifted my opinion, ever so slightly. As it turns out, the movie, though based on a fictional story, showcases a glimmer of truth.
Apparently, for the last 70 years, ladies volunteer in Verona to answer letters that romantics searching for relationship advice, have placed on the wall under Juliet’s balcony or have sent in by mail. And these secretaries answer every letter that has a return address.
Combine this charming detail with the fact that 90% of the movie is shot in Italy and of course, I am hooked. Knowing full well that the rest of the movie will be schmaltzy lines, a predictable plot and most likely bad acting (save the wonderful Vanessa Redgrave who will undoubtedly own every scene), I decide to see it anyway.
My assumptions about the movie in general were correct, and as expected, the star of the show for me, was of course Italy. The people, the language, the food, the wine – and the scenery. Though there are portions of the film that were shot in Verona (and those scenes are so lovely, that I have vowed to add Verona to my ‘must-visit’ list), the majority was filmed in Tuscany. Which if you know anything about me, is just fine with me!
The city of Siena makes a guest appearance, as well as Montalcino. The Caparzo name is present throughout the movie, which makes one wonder if they were a sponsor. Bottles of their wine are placed on dining tables, their sign appears prominently at a vineyard entrance and many of the scenes are shot on location on their vineyards and properties.
One of those properties is the Borgo Scopeto Relais, which in the movie is the hotel where characters stayed while looking for ‘Lorenzo’. It’s a stunning, secluded property, complete with swimming pools, gorgeous views and typical Tuscan architecture. And the good news – you too can rent it.
Another star? The adorable, modern, candy-apple-red, Fiat 500 convertible, also known as the Cinquecento (a fav Italian word of mine) that looks as stylish squeezing through the small cobbled streets of Verona as it does winding along the dusty roads of vineyards in Tuscany. I need to get me one of those cuties!
One result of the movie is for certain – Verona will now be covered with throngs of tourists, anxiously lined up three-deep, stuffing their letters into the wall, praying that they, too, get a written reply. Undoubtedly, that reply will take much longer to arrive, as the secretaries will be inundated and campaigns may need to be launched for more volunteers to keep up with the sheer influx of post-movie love notes.
Who knows, perhaps I’ll volunteer. It happened in the movie, after all.
Photo Credit: vavva92