These destinations have inspired many great writers - how will they inspire you?
Great literature and travel go hand in hand in more ways than you’d think. Many of us take a book on holiday with us to enjoy by the pool or at the beach. Meanwhile, many great writers have been inspired by the places they’ve visited and have set their novels, plays or poems in locations across Europe.
William Shakespeare – a love affair with Italy
We’ve all heard the famous opening lines of Shakespeare’s epic love story:
“Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene”
But it’s not just Romeo and Juliet that is set in Italy, with many of the bard’s most famous works unfolding under Italian skies. There’s the Merchant of Venice and Two Gentleman of Verona, but these are only the most obvious among many. Titus Andronicus plays out in Rome and Othello is of course known as the Moor of Venice.
While there is some debate as to whether or not Shakespeare actually visited Italy, you certainly can. Romantics will find it hard to resist standing on the balcony at Casa de Giulietta in Verona and crying out for their Romeo. Portia’s estate of Belmont in the Merchant of Venice is believed to be a creation that Shakespeare based on the villas situated along the Brenta River, just south of the Venetian lagoon. Explore for yourself and take in the likes of Villa Michiel, which could easily have been the inspiration for Belmont.
Carlos Ruiz Zafon – in the shadows of Barcelona
Anyone who has read Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s masterpiece Shadow of the Wind will know that Barcelona is one of the main characters. Despite the Cemetery of Forgotten Books not being a real place – sigh – many of the other locations featured in the novel can be visited. In fact, routes have even been created to allow fans to experience Zafon’s famous setting in all its glory.
Incorporating much of the Gothic Quarter and The Ramblas, this walking tour will allow your imagination to run wild. Look out for glimpses of Daniel and Fermin, Julian Carax and Nuria Monfort. One of the stops is a narrow alleyway leading to Calle Arco del Teatro and is said to be where the Cemetery of Forgotten Books is located in the novel.
Victoria Hislop – telling the history of Cyprus
All of Victoria Hislop’s novels, from The Island to The Thread offer a wonderful sense of place, but her most recent book, The Sunrise offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of Cyprus. Anyone holidaying on the island cannot fail to notice that it is divided in two, but not everyone knows the story behind the events of 1974 that led to this state of affairs.
The Sunrise is particularly pertinent for holidaymakers as it looks at the history from the perspective of hotel owners in the resort town of Famagusta. While this location has never recovered its tourism industry and parts of it remain sealed off, the rest of the island welcomes vast numbers annually. To get the most out of your trip, read this novel and learn more about the history and cultures that have led to the Cyprus we know and love today.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery – a destination fit for a prince
When a city names its airport after the most famous writer to have been born there, you know it’s got great literary credentials. That is exactly the case with Lyon-Saint-Exupery Airport, a name that will be very familiar of any fans of The Little Prince. The novella is one of the best-selling books in the world and has been translated into no fewer than 250 languages and dialects.
The city boasts a statue to the great writer himself and as a nod to his most famous work, the figure of The Little Prince also shares the plinth with his creator. The castle which served as the childhood home of Saint-Exupery is a little outside of Lyon itself in Saint Maurice de Remens. Here, the author spent many of his formative years letting his imagination run wild as he played in the grounds with his siblings and a visit will bring you closer to his early influences.