It is highly unlikely that whoever wrote The Merchant of Venice and Two Gentlemen of Verona had spent any time in Venice, a city with a number of unique features.
It’s pretty clear that Shakespeare doesn't realise that one of Venice’s most famous landmarks and meeting points, the Rialto is actually a bridge. Nor does the author appear to realise that ALL Venice’s thoroughfares are canals. This is not too surprising since it is very counter-intuitive and most people don't realise until their first visit that feet and oars are the only way to get about.
If De Vere wrote the plays, then in his long Venetian residence, he appears not to have noticed that Verona was
- 73 miles inland and
- annexed to Venice.
It could not have a dock with tides that could be 'missed' as London has. Even in Venice, the tidal range of the Mediterranean (0.5m) is so shallow that, as you can see in the photograph, none of the jetties are required to float to accommodate changes in levels. Nor could you sail there from Milan (another inland city) and it could not have had a Duke, a mistake Shakespeare makes more than once. No senators, no fawning publicans, no shaft horses as all horses were banned in the 1390's. Certainly none called Dobbin, anyway.
Shylock was not the merchant of the title (that's Antonio). Nor, in Shakespeare's time, could he have been a banker. He certainly could have been a moneylender but not one Antonio would have borrowed 3000 ducats from. Describing the introduction to a lecture that took place at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam in 2008 by Professor Benjamin Ravid, the I Love Shakespeare blog reported:
"And this dear readers was a fantastic lecture on the rise of jewish mercantilism in Venice around 1595 when Shakespeare would have been researching and writing his play. The professor believes the Merchant of Venice was written by a benign Shakespeare who never visited Venice. He compared Shakey’s view of the Jews with Marlowe’s portrayal of Barrabas, finding Shylock more subtly drawn as a character.
Further he stressed the distinction between historical reality and dramatic fiction. The Jewish merchants of Venice were not bankers per se but rather pawnbrokers and money lenders. They could lend a maximum of only 3 ducats at 5% interest. Shylock could never have made the deal he did of 3,000 ducats. As for Othello, professor Ravid stated he would have been strung up on a column for daring to think he could marry Desdemona."
The only possible explanations for these miconceptions are that the plays were written before De Vere visited Italy in 1574, something which no sane chronologist will allow, or that De Vere didn't write them or that De Vere was totally unobservant and as bad at geography as it is possible to be.
It doesn't matter which option you choose, they are all fatal to at least one Oxfordian argument.