But what could be more romantic than tracing the steps of Romeo and Juliet in Verona, thinking about the Merchant while crossing the Rialto in Venice, or reviewing Katerina’s comebacks while kicking around Padua?
The interesting thing is that Shakespeare got a lot of the details about his Italian settings right. One of my own favorite books on the topic is The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing the Bard's Unknown Travels by Richard Paul Roe. He actually did retrace the Bard’s literary steps. He makes a careful argument that if Shakespeare didn’t set foot in Italy himself, he sure had good sources. I became interested in this topic a few years ago when I started teaching for a study abroad program held in Orvieto, Italy. Shakespeare didn’t manage to set any of his plays there, but my “Shakespeare in Italy” course has been popular among the University of Arizona students.
After all, listening to boisterous summer conversations is a great way to get a better sense of Petruchio. Enjoying romantic balconies dotted with the fragrance of fresh flowers is a fine way to consider As You Like It. Visiting the Palazzo Ducale is a perfect way to understand the gravitas of Othello. Some may argue that modern Italy obscures any traces of a setting from the late 1500s, but I say all it takes is a little extra imagination. (Wine might help too.)
Are you an undergraduate interested in taking English courses in Orvieto this summer? Check out details: www.arizonainitaly.org
I love to travel! My recent book,Island Casualty, takes place in Greece instead of Italy, but Shakespeare set a play there too!