Fair Verona to stage weddings on Juliet's balcony

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The Independent Online

Those of a romantic disposition will soon have the chance to tie the knot on Juliet's balcony in Verona, where Shakespeare's "star-cross'd lovers" are reputed to have wooed one another. The modern administrators of what Shakespeare called "fair Verona" – the fourth most popular tourist destination in Italy – have decided to exploit the city's association with the Romeo and Juliet story to attract wedding tourism.

Under the city council's "Marry me in Verona" project, the famous location at No 23 Via Cappello will be available to citizens of the European Union at a cost of €800 (£736). People from outside the EU will have to stump up an extra €200, while local residents will be charged a mere €600, though that is still a steep increase on the usual €50 charge for a marriage certificate in Italy.

"We are 'exploiting', in the best sense, Verona's reputation as 'the city of love'," said Daniele Polato, the city councillor who proposed the new campaign.

Mary Handley, an English businesswoman who has been organising weddings for foreigners in central Italy for the past six years, said she was sure the Juliet weddings would be a hit. "It's extremely romantic, the weather is usually co-operative and your photos are going to be wonderful," she said. But she warned the bureaucracy could sometimes be complex and an interpreter is required by law if the couple doesn't speak Italian.

Mr Polato said Verona's romantic reputation was already a strong draw for couples from Britain, the United States and Asia, where Shakespeare's promotional work reached a particularly receptive audience.

"We already had hundreds of requests from Britain for weddings in Verona. We're just as popular a wedding destination as Las Vegas," he declared. "We naturally hope that people getting married here will enjoy eternal love."