One of my goals on this trip to Italy is to follow the Shakespeare in Italy trail.
As so many of Shakespeare’s plays were set in Italy there are many who conjecture that Shakespeare, whoever he might have been, must have travelled in Italy. This very idea is flatly denied by the Stratfordians who can show that there is no evidence that William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon ever left England, much less the British Isles. Furthermore, they claim, Shakespeare made so many errors in his plays, it is obvious he never saw the country first hand, but was working from literary sources and second hand knowledge.
In his book, The Shakespeare Guide to Italy, Richard Paul Roe refutes these arguments. For many years he travelled up and down Italy, using Shakespeare’s plays as his guide, and he has found that nor only are the plays accurate in their depiction of Italy, but close reading of them brings up details that prove that their author must have been there to observe them at first hand. Though he at no point openly acknowledges that he is an Oxfordians, Roe goes to great lengths to show that the contemporary references in the plays date back to 1572-1574, the period when Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford was travelling in Italy.
However, there is another writer who goes much further than this in his claims. In his book, Shakespeare era Italiano (Shakespeare was an Italian) Italian scholar Martino Iuvara, sets out in detail his contention that Shakespeare knew Italy so well because he was an Italian himself, in fact a Sicilian from Messina originally called Michelangelo Florio Crollalanza, whose surname can be translated into English as Shakespeare. Iuvara claims that his family fled Italy during the Holy Inquisition and moved to London. On his travels through Europe, young Crollalanza fell in love with a 16-year-old girl named Giulietta, but her family opposed the union and she committed suicide. Iuvara claims that Crollalanza wrote a play in Sicilian dialect, called Tanto traffico per Niente, which can be translated as Much Ado About Nothing, and a book of sayings of which some correspond to lines in Hamlet. Furthermore, his father once owned a house called Casa Otello, built by a retired Venetian who murdered his wife in a jealous rage.
Unfortunately, this book, published in 2002, is now out of print, and much as I would love to, I haven’t been able to get my hands on it.