There is mail for Juliet!

Image by Adriano Gadini from Pixabay

Dear Juliet,

I won’t ask you if your history, which has distinguished Verona over time as the city of love, is true or a legend. The magic, strength, and power that your history has in keeping love alive for me are enough. For centuries you have shown to be a good listener, attentive to the sorrows of the heart, the friend who’s always there, and perhaps the last hope for those who no longer have anyone to share their dreams or confide their secrets. Dear friend, surely this year too on Valentine’s Day you will hear “there is mail for Juliet!”

Your city breathes (and sighs) love.

Many seek exactly your warmth to unburden themselves. They tell you about their sadness looking for a word of comfort, they ask for a suggestion on how to express their love (yes, dear Juliet, there are many Romeos who cannot speak of love). There are also those who want your advice on how to find their Romeo or their Juliet or either those who just want to tell you their story or a lived moment of happiness. The truth is that sooner or later that thing happens to everyone, we fall in love, and it doesn’t matter if for Mathew, Antony, Frank or Romeo, the question remains the same as yours “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”

The mail for Juliet became a tradition

As long as there are questions, there will also be “Juliet’s secretaries” to answer them. Certainly, there is no shortage of questions for the team of volunteers in charge of picking up the mail for Juliet and answering every letter, even those addressed simply “Juliet, Verona”. Surely magic exists, considering that the letters for Juliet add up to 50.000 every year and they come from all around the world, written by the most varied senders, I mean, from the teenagers that have their first crush or the businessman in love.

The tradition of these letters goes back to 1937 when “the first Juliet’s secretary” Ettore Solimani, keeper of Juliet’s tomb, touched by the content of the letters left by visitors, started to collect, and answer them. He carried out this task alone for 20 years, solely for the pleasure of doing it. Ettore always had a word of comfort to offer and has signed each letter as “your Juliet” until 1957, when he was forced to retire. After that, the task was left to some volunteers, inhabitants of Verona, until 1972 when Giulio Tamassia, followed by a group of friends, had the idea of creating the Juliet Club, a non-profit cultural association whose sole purpose is to keep alive the story of the Veronese lovers, spreading their love around the world.

The Juliet Club makes every effort to support its daily task and if the story requires more attention, it seeks help from a local psychologist or from the institution capable of making their help concrete and meaningful. In addition to looking after the mail for Juliet, the Club organizes on the week of Valentine’s Day, the “Dear Juliet” prize which reaches its 30th edition and includes the choice of the most beautiful letters written in the previous year. Besides, it sets up the international literary prize “Writing for love” which includes the choice of the best love book published in Italy and “Juliet’s Birthday” party, in September, in the squares of Verona. The slogan this year (2022) is “Verona in Love – If you love someone, take them to Verona”. We join the choir “Love. (All we need is)”.

The identification of the noble Cappello family with the Capulets gave rise to the belief that the house above is Juliet’s house. As soon as we pass the entrance porch, we have in front of us the lovers’ balcony. Within walking distance of Juliet’s house, we find Romeo’s house.

Verona - city of Romeo and Juliet

On Valentine’s Day, love is waiting for us in Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet. Ten years ago,  I found myself by chance involved in this appointment and I must say that the air you breathe in the city on Valentine’s Day is different. It is possible to feel the magic along Cappello road where Juliet’s house is, and especially within its walls with the reenactment of the legendary balcony scene by the actors who revived the two lovers. In Verona, there is a lot to see. After crossing the gates of the medieval walls that surround the city, we find ourselves in front of the Arena, a Roman amphitheater that today hosts many cultural events. Following the romantic itinerary, we arrive in the square called “Piazza delle Erbe”, at Juliet’s house and, after some steps, at Romeo’s house. It’s also possible to go for a visit to the tomb of Juliet located in the “Museo degli Affreschi” [Fresco Museum].

In the city, some people say that Juliet’s house belonged to the Cappelletti family, which probably became Capulet in the Shakespearean legend, as well as that of Romeo Montecchi was the home of the Monticoli (in the Shakespearean works Montague) family. Nobody knows for sure. A mystery remains about the existence of the two Veronese lovers. For some the Montecchi and the Capulet existed; for others instead, Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy, originally published in 1596, is only a fantasy. By now, it’s up to us to keep their story alive and to believe that true love exists. It’s up to us to keep it alive in our heart wherever we go in the world even if the words of Romeo imprinted on a plaque placed next to a small bust of Shakespeare at the entrance to the city says that “there is no world outside the walls of Verona” as if to tell us: love lives here.

arena de verona

To the cinema lovers there are two movies not to be missed or to be seen again: Romeo and Juliet, by Franco Zeffirelli, and Letters to Juliet, by Gary Winick.


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Venice carnival, a unique experience

carnevale venezia
carnevale venezia
carnevale venezia

Experiencing Venice’s carnival is something to do at least once in your life. There is nothing quite like it. It’s like waking up in a dream and realizing you are at St. Mark’s square in the eighteenth century. The world has changed outside and change you inside. The colors, laces, appliques, smooth velvet, the beauty of the costumes and the mystery, hidden in the eyes, behind the masks. There is nothing more fascinating than mystery and the wonder in the eyes. Well, It’s carnival! How can we not tell the beauty and the magic within Venice these days?

The origin of Venice’s carnival dates back to 1094 when, for the first time, this term was used to describe public entertainment. But it was in the seventeenth century that the carnival had acquired prestige. Even the nobles wanted to have fun and through the anonymity given by the masks they mixed themselves among the people on the streets. Wearing a mask, they could hide not only their identity but also the sex and social class. So, it was like an opening to an illusory world where everything was possible and allowed. Removing the mask often signaled availability to the approaches of suitors. Each story’s outcome stems from magic.

Masks, symbol of freedom.

carnevale venezia pierrot

The masks became a symbol of freedom. The bauta, worn by women and men, are among the oldest and more traditional ones that never miss a carnival in Venice. It consists of a white mask under a black tricorn hat and a large black coat, named tabard. But that’s not all. There’s no carnival in Venice without Harlequin, Columbina, Cat, Moretta and, of course, my favorite one, the beautiful Pierrot… Ok, I’ll allow myself a teardrop to daydream about that so romantic but unhappy sweetheart!

But the world sometimes proves to be really weird. In 1797 the beauty of Venice’s carnival was banned by Napoleon Bonaparte, after the invasion of Northern Italy. By fearing disorders and rebellions the masks were forbidden. Only almost two centuries later, the party was officially restored, and the tradition of the masks was resumed. Thus, a real trade in masks was set up in Venice.

With the resurgence of the party and the traditions restored, the artisans recovered what seemed forgotten and put forward the business. Nowadays, they work with different techniques and materials and promote courses to teach the art of making masks. They work clay, gypsum, gauze, but the most authentic ones are those made following the ancient tradition, I mean, the handmade ones produced with papier-mâché obtained from scraps of absorbent paper and glue.

To produce the most coveted masks of Venice, the first step is to create a model, and then a mold where the papier-mâché is worked and let dry. Once the mold has been removed it is time to finish the work and enhance it with feathers, beads, drawings, and anything within the realm of imagination. In this case, words don’t do them justice. I’m sure that images have a lot more to tell.

carnevale venezia

With so many people around there are also those who managed to take a nap.🙂


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Italy is like a book – Come read!


Strolling along the streets in Italy is to travel through history. We go back in time and recognize ourselves as protagonists in this huge book. A beautiful full-color edition. Every corner tells us something, you just have to listen. Saint-Exupéry, the author of The Little Prince, wrote: “It is only with the heart that one can see correctly”. Although Italy can be perceived with all senses, it is the heart that reaches the unseen… the essence. The art, literature, cinema, architecture, the aroma of a cappuccino, the smell of pizza, the taste of wine, the flowered windows, the accordion that plays O Sole Mio on the streetsItaly is all of that!

For me, Italy has something magical. Finding my own story, my roots, on the pages of this hypothetical book has an indescribable value. And it so happened to be in Torreglia, a welcoming town in the province of Padua, north-east Italy, that I found a very special chapter. In this summary, I’ll introduce you to all those things that Italy has to tell. I’m taking you on this journey!


Italy in chapters – from prehistory to Middle Ages…

Correzzola is magically set to revive the Middle Ages
Correzzola, magically set to revive the Middle Ages.

The first chapter leads us to Prehistory. Italy has been inhabited since the Paleolithic, and according to an article published by the magazine National Geographic, the site Monte Poggiolo, in Emilia Romagna, is the oldest evidence of the human presence in the country. “The first hominids arrived at the Po Valley about 850 years ago, following a drastic changing in climate”, says the magazine.

The second chapter takes us for a walk in Ancient History and makes us discover the Etruscan, Phoenician, Greek, and Roman civilizations. Palermo, founded by the Phoenicians, Naples, and Rome were among the most important cities of this period. Flipping through the pages, we find that roman sociopolitical organization left everlasting marks in human history. The Roman built cities, harbors, roads, aqueducts, fortifications, and it is not uncommon to find ourselves before a Roman archaeological site. History comes alive before our eyes.

Would you like to go for a walk in the Middle Ages? Well… that’s also possible. The Medieval festivities are always eye-catching. I had the pleasure of living the medieval period in Correzzola, (pictures) in the province of Padua, which has since then housed a small community. Every year, in July, Correzzola is magically set to revive the dark ages, and… oh Gosh, what an adventure! I ended up with my head in a “gogna” (pillory). “Gogna” is the last part of the word “vergogna” (shame) and this is what we feel when finding ourselves in that embarrassing position. Luckily, my tormentor had a good heart and freed me, or I would not be here to tell you about the third chapter of this book.



Renaissance, Modern Age, Risorgimento, the wars…

In the fourth chapter, we leave for a journey towards the Modern Age. The departure gate is the Renaissance, a period of transition and changes in European history. Florence plays an important role in this path where we meet Dante, Giotto, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo… Many are the pages added to this voluminous book. The geographic discoveries, the inventions… Marconi invented the radio and Meucci, despite the late recognition, invented the telephone. It is the beginning of a new era.

And here we are proud to fight for national unity, thus participating in the Italian Risorgimento. The Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed, the capital moved to Rome, and the Tuscan dialect was chosen as the national language. Then the wars happened and left deep marks. We still find scars left by the bullets, small but deep wounds on walls, kept as memories of the conflicts. Researching I found the Fasolato Brigade, one of the many that took part in the Italian Resistance. I’m wondering even if I had some relative partisan, but this is research yet to be explored.

And much more to discover:

This book tells us much more. On its pages, we find out how Venice, the city that seems to float, was built. Venice’s beauty is incomparable and invites us to get lost in its narrow “streets”, to follow the pace of the gondolas… to fall in love in Venice. And then, taking the vaporetto, we get off in the magic colors of Burano. For us, a walk of enchantment. For the fisherman who lives on the island, the varied and bright colors with which they paint their houses, help them to find their home when immersed in the thick fog. History passes in front of our eyes like a masterpiece of Italian cinema and while we hum “Nel blu dipinto di blu we understand that life is beautiful. In the book called Italy, we never stop adding pages.

David by Michelangelo - a masterpiece of Renaissance

David by Michelangelo (Photo by Jörg Bittner Unna – Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported) David-hand details (Photo by Rabe!Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)

Cupid and Psyche by Antonio Canova, 1787. (Photo by gadgetdude Creative Commons –  Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Torreglia, a special chapter.

"The fall of the rebel angels" by Agostino Fasolato (ca. 1750): 60 figures carved in a single piece of Carrara marble. The masterpiece in Intesa Sanpaolo's collection, permanently on display at the Gallerie d'Italia, in Vicenza

Now we have arrived at Torreglialocated at the feet of the Euganean Hills. It’s a special place for me because it was there that I found my roots. Flipping through the ancient books held by the parish and by the registry office, I discovered various Fasolato. Some famous, such as Giacomo Fasolato, writer, linguist, and lexicographer, born in Italy in 1682. He liked the Latin language so much that he latinized the spelling of his name, becoming Jacopo Facciolati. Many are also the registers of Fasolato belonging to the stone cutter and sculptor guild that appear in the documents preserved by the State Archives of Padua. Among them, Agostino Fasolato (ca. 1750) carved 60 figures in a single piece of Carrara marble almost two meters high, which he called “The fall of the rebel angels”.

However, it was in front of a little house, made of stone and brick debris, that I touched history more deeply. There, in Via Vallorto, in front of the small house where my great-grandfather Valentino lived, I made a movie in my mind. I imagined it inhabited, illuminated only by a faint light that barely reached the window… Yep, I entered the time machine and I found myself in the nineteenth century. I looked at the landscape through his farmer’s eyes, I went up the long road to the church of San Sabino that kept history alive by registering all births and marriages. This history that until today tells me that in 1895, Valentino Fasolato married Elvira Pressato.

I imagined Valentino while he was making the decision that would change his family’s whole life: leaving for Brazil on a one-way trip on a steamship called Rosario which, after so many trips, in 1915, had chosen to rest at the bottom of the ocean. As all of this was passing my mind, the church bells rang. Maybe they did it on purpose so I could hear them as Valentino and Elvira had heard before leaving. In my imagination, I turned off the city lights. I saw darkness, winter, loneliness, and hunger which made them leave their land and their bonds behind. I always return to Torreglia. It’s nice to look at the hills. Torreglia told me so much about my history. Italy goes way beyond the five senses.

Above: Torreglia, province of Padua. Below, from the left: Valentino's house, me visiting Torreglia, and a view of the Euganean Hills.
Valentino's house


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