Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cashing in on fiction

Verona is a small Italian town, about half way between Milan and Venice. It's probably best known as the setting for Romeo & Juliet (which I learned was not originally conceived by Shakespeare, but adapted from a 1562 poem).

Being a work of fiction hasn't stopped the Italians from claiming the house at 23 Via Cappello to be the ancient House of Juliet Capulet - complete with prerequisite balcony.

The marketing is great, and right out of Chris Anderson's Free. The courtyard is a public space, free to enter. But you have to pay to enter the house and have your picture taken on the balcony. In addition, the nearby shops make a killing selling miniature Juliet coins, statuettes, and copies of the book.

The Italians aren't known as the great capitalists of the world. But they've done a pretty good job milking an otherwise obscure building in fair Verona.

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