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Alas, Juliet’s Balcony Is Crumbling

August 12, 1989

VERONA, Italy (AP) _ In what could be a sad epilogue to a tragic love story, the balcony from which Juliet pledged her love to Romeo appears to be falling apart.

Newspapers reported Saturday that city authorities declared the balcony dangerous and closed off an area underneath it after some tourists were hit by falling pieces of wood and rock, apparently broken loose by recent heavy rainfalls.

Lanfranco Franzoni, director of Verona’s museums, has said ″only a radical intervention can prevent the total collapse″ of the balcony.

City officials canceled a performance of ″Romeo and Juliet″ at the site Friday night because of the precarious condition of the balcony. After another examination of the balcony on Saturday, they decided the production could continue. It closes for the season on Tuesday night.

Alessandro Borsatti, a member of the acting company, said some changes had been made in the performance because of the damage but the balcony was still considered safe for the actress who plays Juliet.

However, he said, instead of escaping from the balcony, Romeo now will flee from an adjacent window.

The balcony in Verona is a place of pilgrimage for Shakespeare fans and for romantic souls.

″Juliet’s house,″ a 13th-century building in the center of town, used to be an inn called ″Il Cappello,″ or ″The Hat″ in Italian. Its name sounded close enough to Juliet’s family name, Capulet, to identify it as the setting of Shakespeare’s play.

Stefania Corliano, a guide at the house, said the city’s architect supervised a group of masons Saturday who made minor repairs to the balcony. She said the architect decided major repairs could wait until the fall.

Newspapers reported that time and weather were not alone in causing decay of the balcony. Many of the 200,000 visitors who come yearly to Verona to remember Romeo and Juliet try to break off a piece as a souvenir for their beloved.

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