Who was Juliet?

Who really was Juliet?

We now know that Shakespeare wrote the famous tragedy inspired by a novel by Luigi Da Porto (downloadable www.mori.bz.it/Rinascimento/Da Porto.pdf ). The novel, dedicated to the love of Romeo and Juliet, written about 1594–96 and first published unauthorized in 1597.

The Lack of Copyrights

The very first version of Romeo and Juliet was the one written by the Italian Luigi Da Porto. There were no copyrights laws protecteding the rights of authors back then, therefore a couple of other writers copies the story; the Italian Matteo Bandello first, and the French Pierre Boaistuau then. Boaistuau was also a translator and apparently translated Bandello’s story into French and called it:  ‘Histoire troisieme de deux Amants, don’t l’un mourut de venin, l’autre de tristesse’, or “The third story of the two lovers, where one dies of venom, and the other of sadness!” That’s quite a title all right!

And then it is up to Mr. Shakespeare.

The Franciscan Church adjacent to the Palazzo Savorgnan

Luigi Da Porto

Luigi Da Porto, was born in Vicenza in the year 1485, by Bernardino Da Porto and Elisabetta Savorgnan, sister of Antonio Savorgnan, a leading figure of the Friulian nobility.

Luigi joined the army of the Serenissima (Venice government) with the rank of commander and soon found himself stationed in Friuli. While in Udine Luigi was invited to a costume party at the Savorgnan residence, there he met Lucina Savorgnan Del Monte, his distant cousin. It was February 26, 1511 and Lucina, now fifteen was a debutante.

The black marble lines mark where the Savorgnan Palance once stood

Da Porto fell madly in love with Lucina

Love was never easy those days, but Lucina and Luigi made marriage promises. Promises that never came to fruition, because in the night between 18 and 19 June 1511, Da Porto, during a clash with the Austrian militia, was wounded in the neck by a spear that left him paralyzed on the left side.

Story of Two Noble Lovers

“Historia novellamente ritrovata di due nobili amanti”

Hartbroken he retired to his villa in Montorso Vicentino, where he learned the news of the marriage between his beloved Lucina and his cousin Francesco Savorgnan Della Torre. it was a marriage of convenience for political reasons.

Villa Da Porto in Montorso (above), Palazzo Da Porto in Vicenza (below)

Da Porto Wrote his “novella

From his villa in Montorso (near Vicenza), Da Porto could see the Castle once of the Milanese Family Visconti in Montecchio in the distance, and wrote the novel “Historia novellamente ritrovata di due nobili amanti,” dedicating it to his beloved Lucina (To the Beautiful and Graceful Madonna LUCINA SAVORGNANA). A short story autobiographical but set in the fourteenth century Verona. The story is thus transported to the times of Bartolomeo della Scala, in 1301-1304.

Villa Ottelio (above), Palazzo Savorgnan in Venice (left), Corte Savorgnan in Udine (right)

Udine not Verona

Studies have shown the historical inconsistency of the protagonists in the Verona of the fourteenth century, while highlighting different geographical correspondences of the story with the area of the ancient Contrada Savorgnan in Udine.

The Savorgnan Palace was then destroyed by the Venetian Government, only the Franciscan Church dated 1260, remains today, which at the time was adjacent to the Savorgan Palace.

The Savorgnan Palace stood in this Piazza. The black marble lines on the pavement mark exactly where the palace once stood. Today there is a parking lot under the piazza.

In any case, about seventy years later, William Shakespeare read the novel in English translation and resuming the plot brought to the fore the drama “Romeo and Juliet“.

Locations worth seeing

Villa Ottelio Savorgnan, now undergoing more restoration, it is s beautiful location for weddings and receptions. Located in Ariis, Province of Udine

Palazzo Da Porto, just a short walk from the Main Street in Vicenza. An impressive palazzo, with an inside court. The street is called after Da Porto family snd is worth a visit. Contrà Porti, 21, 36100 Vicenza

Palazzo Savorgnan in Sestiere Cannaregio in Venice. It is now a high school and it is possible to visit. Very interesting the gardens behind the palace. Fondamenta Venier, 351, 30121 Venezia VE

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3 Comments

  1. Very interesting! Like millions, I have visited the famous balcony in Verona and the less famous tower in Lazise. It is funny how literature often twists history and the other way around.

    Like

    1. The “famous” balcony is not a balcony at all! It is actually a sarcophagus (a coffin!). Isn’t it disappointing? But if you observe it carefully you’ll se that it has nothing to do with the way the use to build balconies and a lot to do with a stone coffin.
      That house used to be just an ordinary house that happened to be in the right position. It is all made up.

      Liked by 1 person

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