‘Letters to Juliet‘ is a romantic comedy that follows a fact-finder named Sophie in her adventure to reunite two long-lost lovers. Set in the picturesque Italian countryside, and with references to the famous tourist attraction named Juliet’s House in the town of Verona, the film has many layers of romance that, despite its whimsical story, almost feel true. We decided to dig into the movie and see just how much of it is actually based on real life, and our findings might surprise you!
Is Letters to Juliet Based on a True Story?
No, ‘Letters to Juliet’ is not based on a true story. The film is written by José Rivera and Tim Sullivan and is largely inspired by Lise and Ceil Friedman’s 2006 book of the same name. The book that the film takes inspiration from is, in fact, non-fiction. It informs the film’s central idea of letters addressed to Juliet sent to Verona from all over the world. The letters are sent, of course, to the fictional Shakespearean character from ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ Still, their contents are largely real and come from earnest writers who share their individual stories or queries of love.
Much like the letters to Juliet, which are real, and in the film are essentially responsible for setting Sophie off on her adventure, the Juliet House where she finds the letter from Claire is also real. Known as the Casa di Giulietta, it is a famous tourist destination in Verona, Italy, which receives thousands of letters every year. The wall inside which Sophie finds Claire’s letter, though, is not real and was built for the purposes of the film.
Interestingly, the film’s co-writer José Rivera didn’t know about the “Secretaries of Juliet,” who reply to the letters addressed to the Shakespearean character. He only found out about them when the film’s producers approached him to write the script. Fittingly, Rivera too has a love of long-form writing and revealed that he writes his screenplays and plays with paper and pen. He loves the idea of writing and receiving letters and admitted to having written many himself. Naturally, this aspect makes his film about the magic of love letters all the more meaningful.
Therefore, though not based on a true story, ‘Letters to Juliet’ is a fictional twist on a whimsical but genuine phenomenon that still exists. It is a testament to the power of fiction because people are so enchanted by the Shakesperean character that they are inspired to write letters to her. It is also interesting to note that, though not confirmed, the script of ‘Letters to Juliet’ (or at least the version of it penned by Rivera) was possibly handwritten due to the writer’s preference for long-form writing.
Can You Actually Write Letters to Juliet?
Yes, you can actually write a letter to Juliet, which, when it reaches, will likely be read and replied to if you enclose a return address. The letters, which can be addressed as briefly as “Juliet, Verona, Italy,” are delivered to a non-profit organization called the Juliet Club, which was founded in Verona in 1972 by Giulio Tamassia and a group of scholars passionate about the Shakespearean story. In fact, the history of letters being sent to Juliet seemingly goes back even further, to the 1930s. The guardian of Juliet’s Tomb, Ettore Solimani, was so touched by the numerous letters left at her grave that he began to reply to them.
In essence, Juliet’s Secretaries, as the people that reply to the letters on behalf of the fictional heroine are called, was a tradition started by Solimani and continues to this day. According to sources, the Juliet Club has 45 secretaries from all over the world (since the letters come in multiple languages from many countries) and receives about 50,000 letters every year. In case you too would like to send Juliet a letter, you can post one by mail, hand-deliver it to one of the red mailboxes in the town of Verona, or even send an email. Moreover, The Juliet Club also offers people a chance to volunteer for a day (or longer) as a secretary of Juliet and reply to the letters that lovers from all over the world send.
Read More: Where Was Letters to Juliet Filmed?