The Brancatelli File By Joe Brancatelli
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Armani and Juliet
March 5, 1996 -- All of the Italys--the fabulously ornate past, the effortlessly sleek present, and the hopelessly romantic--come together in Verona, the sophisticated little city that's an hour by train from Venice. And everything you need to know about all the Italys can be found at a particular house on the Via Cappello, a few steps from the elegant Due Torre Hotel Baglioni.

At Number 23 Via Cappello is the Casa Di Giulietta, the purported home of Juliet. You know: Juliet. That Juliet. The star-crossed teenager of "Romeo and Juliet." Whether you embrace Shakespeare's account or accept this 13th Century mansion as Juliet's home is of little import. What matters is that Number 23 has a romantic balcony and lovely windows. It's impossible not to be swept away, to somehow believe that this is Juliet's home, Juliet's balcony, and that yonder lies the window through which the soft light broke.

The tourists certainly believe. They stand in the courtyard of Number 23, peer up longingly at the balcony, and conjure up intensely personal visions of love. They giddily approach a bronze statue of Juliet and, for good luck, rub their hands over her much-fingered right breast. Then they file out of the ancient courtyard and walk directly into the Emporio Armani boutique that occupies the storefront of the Casa Di Giulietta.

Back at the Due Torre Baglioni, past, present, and romantic meet again. Built in 1958, on the site of a 14th Century guest house owned by the ruling family of Verona, the Due Torre is a heady mix of eclectic, exquisite antiques and impeccable, world-class service. There's also a suave little bar in the lobby. You can't help but sink back in a plush velvet chair, order up a Negroni, and muse on the meaning of love and ventless Armani suits.

The Due Torre Hotel is located at Piazza S. Anastasia, 4. It can be booked through the Leading Hotels of the World (800-223-6800). The property has 100 rooms and prices start at US$180 a night, including breakfast, service charges and taxes.

This column originally appeared in Travel Holiday magazine.

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