One of Tour Italy Now’s Facebook followers, one Maurizio Mallo, posted this wonderful quote on Facebook earlier this week:
“A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see” – Samuel Johnson (English Poet, Critic and Writer. 1709-1784)
Samuel Johnson articulated this sentiment in the era of the Grand Tour, a journey through Europe that educated young men of means were expected to take to appreciate European history, art and culture, classical Rome and the Renaissance. The itinerary of course was heavy on Italy. From Wikipedia:
Once in Italy, the tourist would visit Turin (and, less often, Milan), then might spend a few months in Florence, where there was a considerable Anglo-Italian society accessible to traveling Englishmen “of quality” and where the Tribuna of the Uffizi gallery brought together in one space the monuments of High Renaissance paintings and Roman sculptures that would inspire picture galleries adorned with antiquities at home, with side trips to Pisa, then move on to Padua, Bologna, and Venice. The British idea of Venice as the “locus of decadent Italianate allure” made it an epitome and cultural setpiece of the Grand Tour.
From Venice the traveler went to Rome to study the ruins of ancient Rome, and the masterpieces of painting, sculpture, and architecture of Rome’s Early Christian, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. Some travelers also visited Naples to study music, and (after the mid-18th century) to appreciate the recently-discovered archaeological sites of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and perhaps for the adventurous ascent of Mount Vesuvius. Later in the period the more adventurous, especially if provided with a yacht, might attempt Sicily (the site of Greek ruins) or even Greece itself. But Naples – or later Paestum further south – was the usual terminus.
Of course variations on the Grand Tour continue, with many a college student embarking on a trip to Europe for educational and experiential purposes. The Grand Tour concept knows no age barriers. Lifelong learners can take their own Grand Tour, of Italy and other places, too.
This quote got us thinking about quotes about Italy, in this era of the Grand Tour to our own. One of my favorites: “Traveling is the ruin of all happiness! There’s no looking at a building after seeing Italy.” Fanny Burney (English writer, 1752 – 1840.) (Please note, she is being ironic about travel!)
What’s your favorite quote about Italy?
Yours in appreciating Italy,