Sunday, April 06, 2008

Gentlemen of Verona

Recently, we reported on speculation that Shakespeare might have visited Venice, scene of two of his greatest plays. Another Italian city that features in two plays is Verona, location for The Two Gentlemen and of course Romeo and Juliet. There's even less evidence that Shakespeare ever travelled to this city, but not surprisingly the local tourist board makes as much as possible out of the connection.

Pictured, two gentlemen of our English Department at the plaque and bust marking Shakespeare's influence on the city, beside Piazza Bra, on a recent holiday visit. The main tourist venue is the entirely fraudulent house of Juliet on Via Capelle (thus the dubious connection); the approach to the house (the balcony, below, was added not in 1596 but in 1936) features hideous grattifi-laden walls (bottom). Perhaps more evocative is Romeo's house on Via Arche Scaligere (left), reportedly the ancestral home of the Montagues. It can't be visited and thus maintains some sense of mystery.

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