Having completed the filming of the scenes in Tuscania at the end of June 1967, Zeffirelli moved the cast and crew to the town of Pienza in the Province of Sienna. Pienza is a perfect example of a renaissance city, albeit small in scale, which has been well preserved and is a world heritage site. The location was principally used for the filming of the interior and exterior scenes relating to the Capulets’ house.
Most of the filming was done in and around the Palazzo Piccolomini, the main entrance to which is on the Piazza Pio II. The production crew rented the entire building from the owners, La Società di Esecutori di Pie Disposizioni, a charity based in Siena to which Count Silvio Piccolomini (a descendant of Pope Pio (Pius) II) had bequeathed it on his death.
The production team were given the run of the property, making significant changes to the furniture used in the principal rooms and hanging up wall coverings as backgrounds. In particular, the dining room of the property was converted into Lady Capulet’s bedroom. The four-poster bed in Pope Pio II’s bedroom was dismantled and re-erected in the dining room. The music room was converted into Lord Capulet’s study. The armoury was transferred to a ground floor room opposite the main entrance to the Piazza, to enable the filming of the Capulets preparing to participate in the civil riot at the start of the movie.
A visitor to the interior of the building today could be easily confused as to where exactly the filming took place, as unfortunately the charity which has benefitted from the association with the movie over the past 50 years, has done little to ascertain and explain to visitors where exactly the filming took place, apart from the obvious location of the central courtyard (or Quadrangle). The guides who take the tourists around the building have no knowledge at all of where the filming took place.
The following is a scale plan that I have created to help develop a greater understanding by all stakeholders in this property of the key rooms used for the filming.
The location of Lady Capulet’s bedroom is established by the fireplace in the present dining room. The location of the Ante Room is established by the unique blemishes on the architrave of the west doorway of the present Entrance Room. Lord Capulet’s study is located by the unique fireplace in the music room. The re-location of the armoury to a large room in the NE corner of the ground floor, just off the Quadrangle, is established by the fireplace and the unusual plaster moulding above it.
Pienza was used for the filming of the following scenes
Scene 5: Members of the family and servants are seen rushing to fetch swords and clubs from the Capulet armoury: The NE corner of the Quadrangle of the Palazzo Piccolomini – cuts to exterior shots of the Piazza Pio II.
Scene 13: Capulet and Paris are walking through the interior of the Capulets’ house, with our brief first shots of Juliet: Interior leading to the first floor of the Palazzo Piccolomini, around the central Quadrangle.
Scene 15: The preparations for the Ball. The first appearance of Juliet, running down the corridor to her mother’s bedroom. Lady Capulet, Juliet and the Nurse discuss the prospect of Juliet marrying Paris.
Scene 16: The young Montague men with torches and a drum are on their way to the Capulets’ house for the Mask Ball: The group enter the Piazza Pio II and proceed to the Corso Rossellino. Across the Piazza are the entrance doors to the Cathedral and the facade of the Palazzo Borgia.
Scene 19: The well at the Capulets’ house around which Romeo and Juliet meet during the Mask Ball: The Quadrangle (or courtyard) of the Palazzo Piccolomini. Note that the dance sequences in the Ball scene were not filmed at Pienza, but on a sound stage at Cinecittà in Rome.
Scene 51: We hear screams from the Nurse, having discovered Juliet “dead” in her bedroom: Exterior shots of the first floor windows filmed from the courtyard of the Palazzo Piccolomini.