What light through yonder window breaks? I can't tell, it's posted over

The city of Verona has a fabulous Roman arena, a Romanesque cathedral and the rather recently fabricated house of an imaginary romantic heroine. No prizes for guessing which is the biggest tourist draw.

But now the city is faced with a delicate problem. Hundreds of tourists, domestic and foreign, pour every day through the Casa di Giulietta, "Juliet's House", at number 27 Via Capello. They come to gaze on the legendary balcony where Juliet may have sighed and Romeo clambered (had either of them existed), to admire the bronze statue of the unlucky lady and to place a hand on its left breast, to give themselves better fortune than hers.

But most of all they come, couples from all over the world, to think happy thoughts about the condition of being in love. And, these days at least, they write their fond thoughts on little yellow sticky slips and attach them to the exterior walls of the house, wherever they can find a space, with chewing gum.

The walls are now plastered with the things, there is barely an inch of free space, and they reach such a height - practically to the balcony - that the lovers must be bringing their own ladders. And the city government has had enough. These walls are medieval, they point out. They won't take much more of this chewing gum. The little slips, adorned with hearts and X loves Y messages, must go. "The damage is evident and intolerable," says Francesca Tamellini, the city's tourism councillor, "we must do something". The stuck-up messages are to be banned. Instead, lovers visiting the house will be invited to send their ardent emotions in the form of SMS messages (phone number yet to be published) which will be displayed on a giant video screen to be set up inside the house, as well as on a special website.

It might work - though citizens of Verona point out that earlier attempts at shutting down the problem survived only a matter of weeks before the little yellow things started creeping back. The "technologically correct" solution (as Corriere della Sera newspaper terms it) is open to criticism on two counts. For one thing the messages will enjoy only a brief life, being rapidly killed off by incoming new ones. For another, the semiology is all wrong. Given the number of Japanese tourists piling through Casa Giulietta, it's no surprise to learn Verona's lovenote fad - dating back only 18 months - has a Japanese provenance.

Visit a Shinto shrine in Japan and you see thousands of prayers written on slips of white paper, folded and tied to the branches of trees. They are intended to stop people carving their thoughts on the sacred walls.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border