For over three centuries Italy has been a preferred destination for European travellers, a cultural and sensorial heaven given its relics from the past, its climate and the beauty of its landscapes. How were Italians perceived in this heaven? The typical traveller always considered their presence as irritating and ungainly, unless they dressed up in order to decorate a fictitious scenery. This is how persistent and still current stereotypes came to be. In his new book, Brilli once again explores the vast Italian travel literature which he knows so well and recounts the gradual consolidation of Italians' image and commonplaces of Italian-ness: a paradoxical and amusing itinerary among adventures and misadventures, travellers' expectations and prejudices.
Attilio Brilli teaches American Literature at the University of Siena.