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Rub the bronze breast of the Juliet statue in the fair city of Verona, Italy, and your luck with love will turn around, the legend goes. But tourists hoping to claim their share of the star-crossed lovers’ romance have rubbed off a lot more than just a little luck.
The famed statue has been pulled from its Verona home due to cracks and wear from the touch of thousands of love-seeking tourists. A crack in the fair Capulet’s right breast and right arm alarmed locals, who petitioned for the statue to be saved.
The statue was moved to Museum Castelvecchio where it will be restored and displayed. An exact replica, commissioned by the city of Verona, will replace it at a cost of more than $27,000.
The bronze Juliet has stood in the courtyard of Verona’s “Juliet House” since 1972, underneath a balcony like the one she stood upon in Shakespeare’s great tragedy as she vowed to marry her sweetheart Romeo despite it all. The 14th century home was bought by the city of Verona from the Dal Capello family in 1905. With a similar-sounding name to the “Capulet” residence, the legend was born, and the “Juliet House” is now a popular museum.
"For a while now we have been witnessing the gradual attrition of the statue, but now we can wait no longer," Giulio Tamassia, president of the “Juliet Club,” told Verona’s newspaper L'Arena.
According to Italy’s “The Local,” Giuseppe Franco Viviani of the Agriculture, Science and Literature Academy in northern Italy says the well-worn statue may even be unstable and dangerous to visitors who have rubbed it and leaned against it to pose for photos over the years.
Whether tourists carry on the tradition with the new statue remains to be determined. As in the play, has Juliet’s luck run out? Or will legend live on through the new Juliet?
Valentina Castegnaro, who sells tickets at the Juliet House and watches tourists come and go to see the statue, thinks it's the latter.
“Probably it will happen again,” she laughed.
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