For years Shakespeare scholars have pointed to such passages as the following from The Tempest and Two Gentleman of Verona:
1) Prospero (formerly Duke of Milan) explaining things to Miranda:
"In few, they hurried us aboard a bark,
Bore us some leagues to the sea"
The Tempest, Act I, scene 2
2) In Verona, Speed (the servant of Valentine) talking to Proteus:
SPEED: Sir Proteus, save you! Saw you my master?
PROTEUS: But now he parted hence, to embark for Milan
SPEED: Twenty to one he is shipp'd already...
These two passages clearly imply that Milan is a port where one can take a ship to "the sea"
or can arrive by ship from Verona.
But, say the scholars, Milan and Verona are inland towns! How can there be ships there?
Oh well, they say, Shakespeare just made a mistake. We can excuse him for that. After all, he lived in England and never went to Italy. He just didn't know such details. And who cares anyway, he wrote good plays!
Of course, readers of this blog probably already know where I'm heading with this. As can be seen in this recent article (link courtesy of John Rollet via Elizaforum): www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article5497075.ece "Shakespeare" was INDEED right. There were plenty of canals and waterways linking such inland towns as Milan and Verona. In fact, they were a principal way of getting around.
Now who might know about this? Someone who apparently never left England or someone who was known to have traveled to Milan, Verona, Venice and generally all over northern Italy where these inland waterways were located? Yes, I guess the "local yokel" COULD have talked with some "sailors" at the Mermaid Tavern (if he really ever went there), but my money is on the first-hand knowledge of someone who was "on the spot".
Once again, things become more explainable when you have the right "Shakespeare", or should that be the "Shakespeare" who was right?