Between the late 16th and 19th centuries, Italy was the object of a continuous cultural pilgrimage; among Europe’s cultured classes, the so-called “grand tour” was a widespread custom that reached its climax in the “Bel Paese” (“Beautiful Country”). Drawn from diaries, travel memoirs, guides, correspondence, novels, from which he collects a wealth of citations, the author tells the reader how those “tourist” pioneers actually travelled and describes itineraries, typical destinations, significant events and adventures, characteristic equipment, means of transportation, expectations, and reactions. But the book wants to be more than a mere history; through foreigners’ eyes, travel literature provides a novel perspective on Italy. The book also includes a set of travel proposals, inspired by the classic voyages of yesteryear, for the contemporary traveller wishing to rediscover Italy.
Attilio Brilli is one of the world’s foremost experts on travel literature.