Graffiti is an ancient Italian tradition that began in Rome with the "scratching" of slogans, notices, curses and comments on the city's columns and walls. To this day graffiti writing is practiced throughout Italy often to the shock and dismay of tourists who don't understand the social, political and romantic implications.
In Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet, thousands of star crossed lovers have written their names on the entrance walls to Juliet's house which at one time were completely covered with graffiti. It is a long standing tradition that is now confined to panels placed at the entrance with sticky notes and torn sheets of notebook paper replacing the graffiti. Although not completely condoned by the Italian establishment graffiti writing is actually encouraged during the Valentine's Fair in Verona.
On the two days of the Valentine festa the front door of Juliet's house is completely covered in love letters which on 14th are taken down and judged. The Cara Giulietta (Dear Juliet) prize is awarded for the most beautiful love letter which is archived together with those from past celebrations.
The Club di Giulietta
The Club di Giulietta (Juliet Club) is a group of volunteers that keep the romance of Juliet alive by answering letters that have been left for her in Verona for over 70 years. The tradition dates from 1937 when the first love letter was left on Juliet's tomb. There are 15 self appointed secretaries to Juliet who answer more than 5,000 letters sent every year. One letter found inspired the movie "Letters to Juliet".