“O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.”
So proclaims Juliet on her balcony in Verona, Italy in the famous scene from Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet.
And while she wasn’t sure where Romeo was in the 1600s – I can tell you that he was probably waiting in line with everyone else in Verona in 2022.
Today, in Verona, there is a location where people come to (supposedly) see Juliet’s house and to stand on her balcony for pictures and for proclamations of love.
How this house was designated as Juliet’s, I’ll never know, but while we were in Verona a few weeks ago we had the opportunity to visit “Juliet’s house.” As an ex-English teacher, I couldn’t very well show up in Verona and not take the Juliet tour.
Well, gulp, or maybe I could.
It was actually quite inspiring (or crazy?) to see just how many people cared about this location. As we walked down the road towards Juliet’s house, we suddenly saw an enormous line. We couldn’t imagine what the line was for, and became absolutely incredulous when we realized it was for the opportunity to stand in the courtyard of Juliet’s house. Keep in mind – this wasn’t the line to actually get into Juliet’s house or go to the balcony, but just to get into the courtyard and get a picture.
When we realized this insanity, we decided that we were not going anywhere near the crush of people. But I wanted a t-shirt (obviously – it’s Verona after all!), some kind of remembrance that I had been in the city of Romeo and Juliet. We ducked into a nearby store and started shopping.
Suddenly, I looked to the end of the store and realized the back door was open….and that it led directly into Juliet’s courtyard. I looked around for the hidden cameras, for the joke to be on me, but no one was paying attention and no one else noticed this door or courtyard. And indeed, rather than waiting for three hours or more, we suddenly found ourselves in the Juliet courtyard.
After taking pictures and laughing at our good fortune (and the lack of awareness of anyone around us), we went back into the store. I noticed a staircase leading to the second floor and saw that it was blocked off. Again, I looked around for the hidden cameras. That staircase must lead, I thought, to an awesome second-floor view of Juliet’s house and balcony! We asked one of the store employees for permission to go up and he told us we were welcome to do so. No one else noticed what we were doing or paid any attention. And with the nod from the employee, we found ourselves giggling on the second floor of the store and directly across from Juliet’s balcony.
When we finished cracking up over our luck and exited the store, we were met, once again, by the hundreds upon hundreds of people waiting in line to get into Juliet’s courtyard. Any person waiting in that line could have glanced left and noticed that the store offered a clear and obvious way to get to the courtyard. But not one other person was doing so. They were all so myopically determined to get to Juliet’s courtyard that they weren’t looking at their surroundings at all or noticing the brilliant and obvious secret right there before them.
And now, while reflecting on the experience, I think it offers such a great life lesson. How often are we so focused on the goal, so blinded by something going on in our lives, that we are incapable of nuance? If we could just get ourselves to think outside the box, to look at the issue from a slightly different angle, to explore our options – we just might find a new and inventive way through the dilemma, obstacle, issue or question.
Lesson learned with the Capulets in Verona, Italy.