Shakespeare’s Cities (1)

Looking through my photographs one evening last week and re-assigning some to other folders, I realised that many of them have attachments to Shakespearean locations, so I thought I’d put a few up on Travels with my Camera today.

ROMEO and JULIET – Verona

Juliet;s Balcony

Juliet’s Balcony – Mari Nicholson

First up, one of my favourite Italian cities, Verona, a favourite because of the operas that are performed in the vast Roman amphitheatre, it’s proximity to Lake Garda and the Dolomites, and the wonderful herb market I remember from my last visit.  Verona is actually the setting of three of the Bard’s plays but it is the Casa de Giulietta that is now a place of pilgrimage for young lovers because of Romeo and Juliet.  The walls are covered with love notes which all get a reply from a volunteer in the Juliet Club which operates from the premises.

Verona is a town worth seeing even if you are not interested in visiting Juliet’s house (and let’s face it, it is fiction after all!) and the Renaissance houses and beautiful squares make one want to linger at the sidewalk cafes.  The evening passagitta is still a big occasion in Verona, and young and old can be seen dressed in their finest clothes, partaking of ice cream and cafes as the sun goes down on the golden stones of this lovely place.

LOVE’S LABOUR LOST – Navarre

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Wild Ponies on the Mountains in Navarre – Mari Nicholson

Navarre in Norther Spain is the setting for the fantastical Love’s Labour Lost, and although Shakespeare probably had no knowledge of this area during the writing of the play, its rolling pastures and fertile valleys seem a perfect setting for the work.  Navarre is home to the famous bull run in Pamplona during the San Fermin fiesta in July, but it has a quieter side also and is famous for its Gregorian chant in its monasteries, its beautiful Pyrennean cows and wild horses, its National Parks, Botanic gardens, and its old traditions which are still kept.  One of these is the fast game of Pelote which you should see if you get a chance.

The autumn colours are eye-wateringly beautiful and a perfect contrast to the coastal houses which are painted either green and red or green and white.   The wines are exceptional and less well known than most other Spanish wines (and they have a wide range of organic wines as well).   The population speaks Basque and the language is not easy to read – especially if you are driving – but Spanish is widely spoken everywhere.

OTHELLO -Cyprus

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Othello’s Castle, Famagusta, Cyprus – Photo Pixabay

I first visited Famagusta when it was in the Greek-controlled part of the island of Cyprus and if I remember correctly, the Turks lived in the area where the castle (now named Othello’s Tower) stood.  Since the war there and the division of the island, Famagusta is under Turkish control in Northern Cyprus, but can still be visited from all parts of the island.

The land of Aphrodite and the tourist towns of Limassol, Paphos and Larnaca are hard to reconcile with the turbulence and the tragedy of Othello. yet drive into the mountain villages, or sit awhile and look at the seas around the island, and the story seems all too plausible – especially if you have visited Venice beforehand.

Cyprus is an island that can be visited at any season, although if you want heat, summer is best: it is also the time to experience the Greek Drama festival and the many flower festivals in the villages.  It has a thriving winter season, however, a time when walking and hiking take precedence and enjoy winter sports in the Troodos Mountains.  Food is always something to look forward to in Cyprus, as are the local wines and the many different honeys.

I feel if Othello had indulged more in the sensual delights of the island and listened less to Iago, Desdemona’s life may have been spared.

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS – Ephesus, Turkey

epheus

Ephesus – Mari Nicholson

Ancient Ephesus is the setting of the Bard’s shortest play, about twin brothers separated at birth.  It is also considered the apex of the Roman-Greco Empire and it is still open to visitors to wander among the ruins of the fallen empire, from the Corinthian-style Temple of Hadrian to the glorious Library of Celsus, to the brothel, which it is said had connecting underground tunnels to the rooms  Much of the city is still to be excavated, but the solitary structures that remain showcase its former capital splendour.

There is little in the nearby town but there are a lot of ruins and excavations to see, including the house where it is thought that the Virgin Mary lived.  Izmir is about 30 km. away (about an hour’s drive) and for those who wish to combine a relaxing resort holiday, the popular Kusadasi is a mere 19 km. away.  Istanbul lies about 650 Km away and trips can be arranged from there, but it needs a good 3 days to do it in comfort.Although flights are advertised they are not recommended.

 

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