Much Ado About Nothing is set in 16th-century Messina, a city on the island of Sicily in Italy. Most of the events of the play occur on the grounds of Leonato, the governor of Messina.
This idyllic, domestic setting in a sunny harbor city is juxtaposed with the battlefield from which the soldiers have just arrived. This results in much wordplay that compares and contrasts love with war. For instance, Leonato compares Beatrice and Benedick's bickering to a "merry war" or "skirmish of wits" in Act 1, Scene 1. This relationship between love and war not only contributes to the humorous tone of the play by presenting the audience with the image of soldiers experienced in battle grappling with the more trivial matter of love, but also heightens the stakes of the plot by elevating romance to the status of war.
In addition, Shakespeare's decision to set the play in Italy allows him to incorporate allusions to Roman gods, such as Jove and Diana. Consequently, the characters utilize a shared vocabulary based on classical mythology when describing their views on love, chance, and destiny. In particular, allusions to Cupid abound; as a god of love armed with arrows, this classical figure encapsulates love's resemblance to a "merry war."