The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Where art thou, Juliet' Not in Verona

Rome, Sept. 27 (AP): Verona has inspired generations of romantics, but the original Juliet may not have come from the city where William Shakespeare set his famous tragedy of the “star-crossed lovers”.

The real Juliet lived not in Verona but in the nearby Friuli Venezia Giulia region, claims a descendant of a 15th-century writer said to have inspired the bard.

Luigi da Porto wrote a version of the tale of Romeo and Juliet that is thought to have been reprised by Shakespeare and turned into his drama, Romeo and Juliet.

Antonio da Porto, a doctor and a descendant of the writer, says the original story is autobiographical and the woman the fictional character was based on was not named Juliet.

“When Luigi da Porto fought in Friuli, he fell head over heels for an attractive local girl. Her name was Ginevra,” he told Corriere Della Sera daily. “She was engaged, but this didn’t stop her from reciprocating.”

The two had a brief affair that was ended by the girl when da Porto was wounded in combat, he said.

“Through his short story, which was different from his real-life experience, my ancestor wanted to teach a lesson to Ginevra, who had vanished and had preferred to remain in her land, Friuli Venezia Giulia,” da Porto said.

He pointed to the similarity between Giulia and the name Juliet, which in Italian is Giulietta.

His comments were met with a shrug in Verona.

“The fantasy element is more important. We are talking about literature here, not history,” Giulio Tamassia, the president of Verona’s Juliet club, said yesterday.

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