- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

ROME (AP) - There may be no better setting for the words “Til Death Do Us Part.”

The House of Juliet _ where, legend has it, Romeo wooed the young maiden under her balcony _ will soon be used as a venue for weddings, city officials in Verona said Friday.

The idea is part of a campaign by Verona, where William Shakespeare set his tale of star-crossed lovers, to foster its image as a romantic city.

“Verona is known worldwide as the city of love,” said Daniele Polato, the city official who made the proposal. “We have inherited this splendid reputation and we want to promote it.”

But even romanticism comes at a price: The tab for getting married at the House of Juliet ranges from euro600 (about $770) for Verona residents to euro1,000 ($1,280) for non-EU-citizens not living in the northeastern Italian city. The cost difference is due to the larger amount of documentation needed for nonresidents, officials said.

Polato says the money will be used to fund the initiative, including paying for city hall staff, extending hours, and processing documents. Eventually the city wants to expand the campaign into a full tourist “wedding package” that will include everything from hotel accommodation to flower arrangements.

Nonreligious weddings at the House of Juliet, as well as in another historical building in the city center that was previously unavailable, will be possible starting next month, when the last bureaucratic hurdle is cleared, Polato said. The weddings can either take place inside the house or in the courtyard right below the famous balcony.

The 14th-century Casa di Giulietta, or House of Juliet, is one of the top tourist spots in a city that draws about 1.2 million people annually. The building belonged to the Cappello family, traditionally identified with the Capulets, leading to the folklore that Shakespeare’s fictional character may have lived there.

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