Shakespeare and Venice

ShakespeareShakespeare was undoubtedly one of the major play writers of all times: his works have been translated in all languages and they are set in a variety of different places. Did Shakespeare ever visit Venice and Italy? That's a big question that many experts have been trying to answer. Let's take a step back and consider some facts.

Many of Shakespeare's works were set in Veneto: The Taming of the Shrewd is set in Padua, Romeo and Juliet in Verona, The Merchant of Venice and Othello in Venice. But why did Shakespeare choose Italy and in particular Venice? Italy in general represents a great “alibi” for Shakespeare: on one hand, it is a country that is so geographically and culturally different from Elizabethan England to be almost “exotic”, but on the other it is close and similar enough to be used as a mirror for English society itself. Shakespeare seemed particularly fascinated by the city of Venice.

To him and generally speaking in English people's mind, Venice had become a symbol of social decadence and of of mercenary moral values. Shakespeare and his contemporaries projected in Venice their ambitions for an England that could dominate the seas and commerce, but also their fears.

Italy for Shakespeare was also a source of inspiration: many of his plays (Romeo and Juliet for example) are based on Italian popular stories or legends. Some scholars speculate that Shakespeare could speak and read Italian. Others believe that he may have visited Italy and Venice during his “dark period” and was inspired by the cities he visited. No one really knows for sure, however when visiting Venice it is possible to take a tour of the places described by Shakespeare in his works. To know more about it, please contact Mydas Travel!