Monday, March 27, 2006

In the Book 'Letters to Juliet,' Writers Seek Succor From a Veteran of Heartbreak

Published: March 27, 2006

"Dear Juliet," the letters all begin.

"Dear Juliet ... You are my last hope. The woman I love more than anything in the world has left me. ..."

"Dear Juliet, I live on the third floor. My parents don't allow my boyfriend to come to my house. So I have to sneak him in. ..."

"Dear Juliet, my name is Riccardo. I am 10 years old." Riccardo is in love with an older woman, 14. He saw her in Verona the summer before. Does Juliet have news of her?

Every week, hundreds of letters pour into the office of the Club di Giulietta, in Verona, Italy, the city that is the setting for Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." Some are addressed simply "To Juliet, Verona," but the postman always knows to deliver them to the club's Via Galilei headquarters.

Every letter is answered by the club's group of volunteers, no matter what the language, sometimes with the assistance of outside translators. (In the past, the owner of a local Chinese restaurant helped.)

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