Locals in Verona seem astounded by the number of people who come to their town to visit Juliet. Each year, about 1,600 Japanese tour groups break their Venice-Milan ride for an hour-long stop in Verona just to visit this courtyard, with its famous balcony. All day long, a steady stream of visitors line up to polish Juliet's bronze breast in hopes of good fortune in love.
Did Juliet even exist?
"While no documentation has been discovered to prove the truth of the legend, no documentation has disproved it either," reads a local information box.
I enjoy standing in the corner and just observing the spectacle, which was started by a tour guide back in the early 1970s. Sensing cynicism on my part, a local guide challenged me to find the positive in this ritual.
Perhaps there's a hunger for a Juliet in our world. Watching the mobs clamor to polish her breast for a moment or to blow kisses from her balcony, I try to appreciate what she means and to psychoanalyze what she provides as a role model. With Juliet, love will prevail. You can lose and also be a winner. Juliet is brave, tragic, honest, outspoken, timeless and passionate -- a mover and a shaker, a dreamer and a fighter. In a way, this is a pagan temple where the spirit of Juliet gives people something to believe in.
Or...maybe it's just a simpleminded mob excited about a pile of baloney.
What do you think?