Florence’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’ Celebrations

Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey in Zeffirelli’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (1968)

This week provides a chance to take a break from holiday preparations and parties to dive into sheer romanticism thanks to events marking the 50th anniversary of the 1968 release of Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet.

What does that particular screen adaptation of Romeo and Juliet have to do with Florence & Tuscany?  Plenty, as it turns out.  The director and co-writer of the screenplay, Franco Zeffirelli, is a native of Florence; many scenes were filmed on location in Pienza, currently hosting a Romeo & Juliet exhibition through January 6, which features the original, opulent Oscar-winning costumes currently on loan from Pisa’s Cerratelli Foundation.  The show’s name, “What is a Youth,” is also the title of the movie’s opening music, composed by Nino Rota.

In Florence, the Zeffirelli foundation in piazza San Firenze is hosting a special screening of Romeo and Juliet starring Leonard Whiting and the unforgettable Olivia Hussey with the original English soundtrack on Friday, December 21 at 7:30 pm (€10, reservations required at 055.265.843.5 or by sending an email to  ticket@fondazionefrancozeffirelli.com).  Guests will also receive a voucher granting free admission to the Zeffirelli museum valid for next two months.

The showing will be preceded by the chance to participate in a guided visit to see Romeo and Juliet movie artifacts — including documents, sketches and books — conserved in the Zeffirelli foundation archives.  Caterina d’Amico, who was present during some of the filming, will personally lead the tour.  The opportunity will be provided for €10 (reservations required, see instructions above), but those who sign up can attend the movie following, for free.  (rosanna cirigliano)