The city of Verona celebrates every year, on September 16, the birthday of its famous heroine.
The date is based on the "novella" by Luigi Da Porto (1531), the first writer who told the story of Romeo and Juliet. He was a captain in the service of the Venetian Republic and he claimed that one of his bowmen, named Pellegrino da Verona, told him the true story of two unfortunate young lovers who had lived at the beginning of the 14th century and belonged to two rival families, the Capulets and the Montagues.
His novel inspired a lot of other European writers, until it reached the peak of artistic expression in Shakespeare´s "Romeo and Juliet" (1596).
The "Writing for Love" Literary Prize is an international prize awarded to a book on the theme of love. The winner is chosen by a jury of experts among a selection of novels about love, published during the previous year. The prize-awarding ceremony takes place in June at the Accademia di Agricoltura Scienze e Lettere, Via Leoncino 6, Verona
The Club di Giulietta, our Verona-based organization that answers the thousands of letters addressed each year to Shakespeare´s most romantic heroine, awards the "Cara Giulietta" ("Dear Juliet") prize on Valentine´s Day to the most compelling letters received during the previous year. The "Dear Juliet" prize recognizes the spontaneity of the writers who turn to Juliet to express their feelings, ask for advice or simply feel closer to this universal symbol of eternal love. It has now become a famous event that has brought to Verona artists and stars such as Andrea Bocelli, Franco Zeffirelli, Giulietta Masina, Carla Fracci, Leonard Whiting.
LETTERS TO JULIET: Celebrating Shakespeare´s Greatest Heroine, the Magical City of Verona, and the Power of Love by Lise Friedman and Ceil Friedman Stewart, Tabori & Chang, New York, 2006 Juliet - she´s half of literature´s most famous couple, whose enduring legend draws millions of visitors to Verona every year. But that´s only part of the story. Since the 1930s, Juliet has received countless letters from writers all over the world, and amazingly, they´ve all received an answer. In LETTERS TO JULIET authors Lise Friedman and Ceil Friedman explore the stories behind these letters and the volunteers who have been answering them for more than 70 years. The letters arrive by the thousands, in almost every language, and from writers of all ages. Most talk of love - love found and love lost, love sought and love remembered. They may have been written by teenagers in the throes of a first crush or by adults celebrating a hard-won love. The emotions and desires they express are timeless, and some reflect how a particular issue or social movement shaped the writer´s feelings and perspective. Complete with selected letters, LETTERS TO JULIET explores the legend of Romeo and Juliet, the history of the monuments in Verona, and the story of the various secretaries who have been answering Juliet´s mail for decades. A 21st-century view of the city from an insider´s perspective completes this charming and magical book, which includes an envelope that readers may use to send their own letters to Juliet. In its entirety, LETTERS TO JULIET offers an enchanting look at one of literature´s most romantic figures, and the phenomenon of her legend. LISE FRIEDMAN is the author of "First Lessons in Ballet", "Break a Leg! The Kids Guide to Acting and Stagecraft", and "Alvin Ailey Dance Moves!" A former member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, she lives in New York City, where she writes frequently about performing arts. CEIL FRIEDMAN is an art historian and translator who writes about contemporary art and Italian culture. She lives in Verona, where she collaborates with the Verona City Museums and other institutions in Italy.
The story is set at the beginning of the 14th century, at a time when the rivalry between the two leading families of Verona, the Capulets and Montagues, was causing bloodshed in the city. Romeo Montecchi goes in disguise to a masked ball at Capulet's house, where he falls hopelessly in love with Juliet. After the ball, he hides under Juliet's balcony and overhears her confessing to the night her love for him. He reveals his presence and proposes a secret wedding. The next day they are married by Friar Laurence. Shortly after, Romeo meets Juliet's cousin Tybalt in the street and is attacked by him for having been to the ball in Capulet's house. Romeo, aware that he is now related to Tybalt, refuses to fight, but his friend Mercutio, amazed by his meekness, intervenes against Tybalt, who kills him. Romeo has to avenge the death of his friend, and he kills Tybalt; for this he is banished from the city, and the next day, after spending the night with Juliet, he is obliged to flee to Mantua. Meanwhile, Juliet is compelled by her father to agree to marry Paris. Friar Laurence suggests the stratagem of feigning death: Juliet is to drink a potion which will make her appear to be dead for forty hours, and meanwhile he will inform Romeo, who will retrieve her from the tomb and take her with him to Mantua. Juliet agrees, but the secret message never reaches Romeo, who does however hear of her death. In despair, he buys a deadly poison and hurries to Verona to see Juliet one last time. At the tomb he meets Paris, kills him in a fight and then drinks the poison. When Juliet awakes and sees Romeo dead she realizes what has happened and stabs herself. Friar Laurence arrives too late to prevent the tragedy, and before the bodies of the two young lovers, victims of the rivalry and hatred between their families, the Capulets and the Montagues are reconciled at last.