Messina: The Forgotten Home of Shakespeare

21 04 2008

Tourist trap

What does Verona have that Messina doesn’t?

A fake balcony and lots of tourists

What does Stratford Upon Avon have that Messina doesn’t?

A fake house and lots of tourists

When Kenneth Branagh filmed his film version of Much Ado About Nothing in a romanticized version of Tuscany, rather than the Messina chosen by Shakespeare, he deprived the Sicilian city of yet another chance for it to cash in on its association with the bard. Verona has long shown that Shakespeare can be a powerful stimulus for tourism – especially when it is associated with starcrossed lovers and the literary pretensions of would be visitors. The northern Italian city is the profitable home of the Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s house), complete with a photo opportunity balcony added in the 1930s. For although it is hard to match the romantic appeal of Romeo and Juliet in the Shakespeare canon, surely the much perkier Messinese story of Beatrice and Benedick must come close – and, to be certain, it is much more popular than The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

There are some balconies and houses in Messina just waiting for historical significance

Indeed, there is a theory that Shakespeare was actually from Messina. The story goes that young Sicilian nobleman Michelangelo Crollalanza (Italian for shake spear) emigrated from Messina, found his way into the emerging Elizabethan theatre, and secured an English outlet for his writing by marrying a brilliant translator by the name of Anne Hathaway. Apart from the Messina connection, it is appealing to think that Mrs Shakespeare may actually be responsible for the language of the plays.

A bit of initiative from the Messina city council and a random old looking building nominated as Shakespeare’s ancestral home could change the Bard tourism biz for ever. Why go to dingy Stratford Upon Avon and eat putrid bangers on mash, when you can bask in the Sicilian sun, enjoy great pizza and pasta, and see an equally authentic Shakespearean residence? The enterprising Veronesi and Stratfordians would have done it years ago.




6 responses

26 04 2008

I’ve never heard about this Crollalanza theory but I agree that it would be a great excuse to stop going to Stratford. What evidence do they offer for Anne Hathaway’s knowledge of Italian?

27 04 2008

Any excuse is good to avoid Stratford.

27 04 2008

Excuse me! What’s the problem with Stratford? I am sicilian and obviously I completly agree with this post, but I like Stratford too. Crollalanza theory was one of the questions in my PhD examination!! 🙂

1 05 2008

Barbaraland: Yes, everyone’s picking on Stratford. Probably because it’s an over priced provincial town with little to attract tourists & scholars but its association with the most renowned English dramatist. Messina could offer so much more. 😉

Shimano Ultegra: There is no specific evidence to support these claims about Anne Hathaway. That said, leaving aside the obvious agenda of the Crollalanza proponents, why shouldn’t we think that Mrs Shakespeare might have helped her husband in some more credible way?

5 05 2008
More Shakespeare Authorship Silliness « Shakespeare Politics and Italy Blog

[…] like Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, Francis Bacon, Lady Mary Sidney, James I, Michelangelo Crollalanza, and – why not – Lord Peter Wimsey or Yvette […]

10 05 2008
elizabethan theatre

[…] A fake house and lots of tourists When Kenneth Branagh filmed his film version of Much Ado A Man Real Change NewsCan a London-born actor break the Hollywood color line? Chiwetel Ejiofor […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: