The Russian poet Anna Akhmatova once wrote: «Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life». Italy is a land of memory and refuge, the exact opposite of a place of exile. Experiencing Italy’s ancestral essence entails – as D.H. Lawrence put it – feeling the pulse of ancient cultures, or ¬– according to Albert Camus – discovering as if by magic the greatest beauty the world has to offer. In the 20th century many tales have been told by Italian and foreign travellers: stories of men, feelings, emotions, cities, landscapes. Personalities such as Virginia Woolf and Jean-Paul Sartre, restless minds, moody individuals, exiles, expatriates, and vagabonds have chosen Italy as the place to satisfy their desire for knowledge, cure their anxieties, and yearn for unexpected drastic changes leading to vital renewal. And so, despite the country’s ever-changing features, those who travel to Italy can drink at the source of Western civilization, experience an amazing temporal regression in the cradle of classicism, and enjoy majestic landscapes conveying, amidst hidden dangers and turmoil, art and beauty.
Attilio Brilli is a major expert on travel literature; his books have been translated into many languages.