Shakespeare: one of history’s greatest writers. His name has been around for a while – in fact, he’s celebrating his 450th birthday on 23rd April – but his masterpieces have transcended the ages.
Shakespeare explored all of Europe in his plays, introducing the British public to exotic lands they’d never seen or even heard of before. From Venice to Cyprus, Shakespeare captured the timeless romance, vibrant atmosphere, unsettling darkness, and unadulterated beauty of these historic cities. With the first annual Shakespeare Week kicking off on 17th March, it’s the perfect time to pick up one of his plays, and hit the high skies to recreate the adventure, romance and emotion of his most famous works!
Here’s the lowdown on some of Shakespeare’s most famous settings that are still worth the trip today:
Find your fortune in Venice
One of the wilder rumours about Shakespeare is that he was in fact Italian, which isn’t totally crazy since he set ten plays in the country! Venice remains one of his best known settings, as the stunning backdrop to the infamous Merchant of Venice. Today, it remains a place where lovers flock whether they want to marvel at the art and architecture, take a gondola ride along the canals, or people-watch over coffee in St Mark’s Square.
Fall in love in Verona
If you’re crazy for Shakespeare, then a trip to Verona is a must – it’s like taking a walk through Shakespeare’s stories. As well as the backdrop for Two Gentlemen of Verona, it’s the location of his most famous work, Romeo and Juliet, and you can still wonder at Juliet’s balcony or touch the bronze statue of the star-crossed lover for good luck in your own romances. There’s more to Verona than this though, including castles, an amphitheatre, a cathedral, and some incredible local fare!March on
March on Rome
As you might expect, Rome was home to several of Shakespeare’s political masterpieces: Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus. There’s no other city in the world better suited to scenes of power struggles and backstabbing than the birthplace of politics. Step back into history with a trip to the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum. Add these amazing attractions to the more ‘modern’ attractions of the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and the Vatican, as well as some wonderful shops, restaurants and bars, and you’ll have all the reasons why Rome is still the place to go.
Succumb to passion in Cyprus
Cyprus is at the heart of the plot in Othello as Othello leads the Venetian defence of the island against Ottoman invasion. The play is all about passion and fiery tempers, and Cyprus is the perfect backdrop. Cypriots are all about passion – passion for their culture, their history, fine food, fine wine, sunshine. With a blend of beautiful beaches, scattered tombs and ruins, and a vibrant local culture, this island paradise remains popular today – with the added bonus of now being at peace!
Chase the charms of Nice
All’s Well that Ends Well takes place around France and Italy but primarily in Paris, Roussillon and Marseille as Helena pursues Bertram and tricks him into marriage. While their love story isn’t quite the romance you’d want, Southern France does offer an undeniable allure. Wander the rambling streets of Collioure, Carcassonne, and Montpellier for historic castles, hidden cafes, colourful gardens, and other picturesque architecture or head to the waterfront for beautiful beaches and views for miles.
You can fly to all of these Shakespearean destinations with Monarch, so in honour of his big 450 and the first annual Shakespeare Week, pick up a volume of his plays, book a flight, and recreate the romance, history, and adventure (we’ll skip the tragedy) of England’s most famous writer.