First Wedding Celebrated in Juliet's House in Verona

Anyone can request to marry at one of the four sites in Verona set aside by the city for civil weddings for the cost of 600 euros (about $770) for Verona residents up to 1,000 euros ($1,280) for non-EU couples. City officials say the cost is due to the large amount of administrative work needed for the ceremony.

A normal wedding certificate costs about 50 euros in Italy but the all-inclusive price includes the flower and room dressings inside the rooms, security and a special certificate to commemorate the occasion. Local town officials hope that this new idea will help to make Verona a "wedding capital" and bring tourism back, which has decreased greatly due to the world economic crisis.

"We'll be offering tourist packages, the whole shebang, just like Las Vegas does," said Daniele Polato, the city's tourism councillor. "It's a way of using the city's artistic heritage to help the local economy in these tough times."

Juliet's house is one of the top tourist spots in Verona with about 1.2 million people flocking to the site annually. It was reopened a year ago after a thorough clean-up; thousands of love messages and graffiti left by visiting lovers were scrubbed out. A strict graffiti ban has been issued and visitors are now urged to send their vows by e-mail and mobile phone text messages to a huge computer display in the house's lobby; this hasn't seemed to have stopped the scribbling of love messages on the walls though.

For more information see the town's Web site, but bookings should be made well in advance as getting the right paperwork processed for a wedding in Italy can often involve lengthy bureaucracy, especially if the couple are not Italian citizens.

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