Why Did Shakespeare Set So Many Of His Plays in Italy ( or Italian area )

Jul 2016
885
Europe/Switzerland/Ticino
#1
Romeo and Juliet
Setting: Verona and Mantua
Othello
Setting: Venice
Much Ado about Nothing
Setting: Messina
The Merchant of Venice
Setting: Partly in Venice
Julius Caesar
Setting: Rome;
Cymbeline
Setting: Italy
Coriolanus
Setting: Rome
Antony and Cleopatra
Setting: Roman Empire
All’s Well that Ends Well
Setting: Florence
The Taming of the Shrew
Setting: Padua
The Tempest
Setting: The Sea - Prospero, Duke of Milan-
Titus Andronicus
Setting: Rome
The Winter’s Tale
Setting: Sicilia
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Setting: Verona, Milan,
Twelfth Night
Setting: A city in Illyria under Venetians
 

macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,928
Slovenia, EU
#2
Because he was knowing enough about Italy which sparks Francis Bacon theory. Good old Will could not know much about Italy because he never visited it.
 
Mar 2013
445
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
#3
Romeo and Juliet
Setting: Verona and Mantua
Othello
Setting: Venice
Much Ado about Nothing
Setting: Messina
The Merchant of Venice
Setting: Partly in Venice
Julius Caesar
Setting: Rome;
Cymbeline
Setting: Italy
Coriolanus
Setting: Rome
Antony and Cleopatra
Setting: Roman Empire
All’s Well that Ends Well
Setting: Florence
The Taming of the Shrew
Setting: Padua
The Tempest
Setting: The Sea - Prospero, Duke of Milan-
Titus Andronicus
Setting: Rome
The Winter’s Tale
Setting: Sicilia
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Setting: Verona, Milan,
Twelfth Night
Setting: A city in Illyria under Venetians

Renaissance Italy was exotic and exciting. It was also in the past and far enough from England's sphere of influence to make pointed statements about its leaders without risk of a head-lopping or worse.


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jackydee

Ad Honorem
Jan 2013
4,569
Brigadoon
#5
Renaissance Italy was exotic and exciting. It was also in the past and far enough from England's sphere of influence to make pointed statements about its leaders without risk of a head-lopping or worse.


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This is most likely the correct answer. I say most likely as we can't interview the guy to find out for sure. Italy and Greece were where Renaissance England got most of it's literature from.It's where English writers went to for source material. Shakespeare was not alone in this. All playwrights of the time looked to Italy as their source. Shakespeare just did this more than most. Plus, English politics in contemporary plays were likely to get you in trouble. Far easier to set a problematic play in Venice or Rome rather than London.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,806
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
#7
Romeo and Juliet
Setting: Verona and Mantua
Othello
Setting: Venice
Much Ado about Nothing
Setting: Messina
The Merchant of Venice
Setting: Partly in Venice
Julius Caesar
Setting: Rome;
Cymbeline
Setting: Italy
Coriolanus
Setting: Rome
Antony and Cleopatra
Setting: Roman Empire
All’s Well that Ends Well
Setting: Florence
The Taming of the Shrew
Setting: Padua
The Tempest
Setting: The Sea - Prospero, Duke of Milan-
Titus Andronicus
Setting: Rome
The Winter’s Tale
Setting: Sicilia
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Setting: Verona, Milan,
Twelfth Night
Setting: A city in Illyria under Venetians
IMHO opinion these plays:

Julius Caesar
Setting: Rome;
Cymbeline
Setting: Italy
Coriolanus
Setting: Rome
Antony and Cleopatra
Setting: Roman Empire
Titus Andronicus
Setting: Rome

seem like a different set of plays than these plays:

Romeo and Juliet
Setting: Verona and Mantua
Othello
Setting: Venice
Much Ado about Nothing
Setting: Messina
The Merchant of Venice
Setting: Partly in Venice
All’s Well that Ends Well
Setting: Florence
The Taming of the Shrew
Setting: Padua
The Tempest
Setting: The Sea - Prospero, Duke of Milan-
The Winter’s Tale
Setting: Sicilia
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Setting: Verona, Milan,
Twelfth Night
Setting: A city in Illyria under Venetians

The first set of plays deal with Ancient Rome and the Roman Republic and Empire.

The second set of plays deal with more or less contemporary renaissance Italy.

Remember that when thinking about the classical era, Italy is a part of Rome. When thinking about the renaissance era Rome is a part of Italy.

Thus ancient Rome was not a part of renaissance Italy.

The reasons Shakespeare wrote the ancient Roman plays are likely to be different from the reasons Shakespeare wrote the renaissance Italian plays.
 
Jul 2016
885
Europe/Switzerland/Ticino
#8
Shakespeare was inspired by Dante and Petrarch Ariosto Boccaccio and other's "italian" writers who were very popular in England at that time
Also he was heavily influenced by the Latin-Roman playwrights, Plautus and Terence....and many Others..
 
Last edited:

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
26,175
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#10
I find this viewpoint quite interesting:

Shakespeare's Knowledge of Italy, the Classics, and the Law

In the section "Shakespeare's Knowledge of Italy", the author of the article underlines that

Italian culture and literature permeated all of Elizabethan literature and drama (not just Shakespeare) to a much greater extent than anybody realized a century ago; there were many sources, both written and unwritten, which any intelligent Elizabethan could use to find out all about Italy; and many Elizabethans of Shakespeare's social class, including members of his own acting company, visited Italy.
 

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