Italy and the Grand Tour


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Jeremy Black

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For members of the social elite in eighteenth-century England, extended travel for pleasure came to be considered part of an ideal education as well as an important symbol of social status. Italy, and especially Rome—a fashionable, exciting, and comfortable city—became the focus of such early tourists’ interest. In this distinctive book, historian Jeremy Black recreates the actual tourist experiences of those who traveled to Italy on a Grand Tour. Relying on the private diaries and personal letters of travelers, rather than on the self-conscious accounts of literary travelers who wrote for wider audiences, the book presents a fresh and authentic picture of how British tourists experienced Italy, its landscapes, women, food, music, Catholicism, and more.

Using material from archives across Britain and a generous selection of illustrations, the book highlights the discrepancy between the idealized view of the Grand Tour and its reality: what people were meant to do was not necessarily what they did, what the guide books described as splendid was not always so perceived. Black discusses what Italian experiences meant to British visitors, and he considers the effects of tourism on British culture during this most exciting of centuries.

Jeremy Black is professor of history at the University of Exeter and previously held the same position at the University of Durham. He has lectured widely in the United States, Europe, and Australasia and is the editor of the journal Archives.

“A well written and enticing account of the 18th century Grand Tour. . . . Jeremy Black has taken a step further; he has resourced many letters and contemporaneous accounts of the intrepid travelers. The result is a very personal view of the Grand Tour. . . . I congratulate the author on an excellent documentary of this aspect of 18th century life.”—Disability Times

“This eminently readable book will undoubtedly stimulate interest in Italy and the Grand Tour.”—History Today

"[Black] has trawled through . . . letters to paint a picture that is as vivid as anything from the brush of Pompeio Batoni. He has focused on areas rarely touched by other writers."—Suzi Feay, Independent on Sunday

"[Black's] use of anecdotes from letters makes the reader actually experience the perils, problems, and joys of eighteenth-century traveling. . . . Luckily for us, Black makes those kind of intimate details accessible."—Charles H. Ford, The Historian

ISBN: 9780300173857
Publication Date: September 16, 2003
268 pages, 7 1/2 x 9 1/4
31 b/w + 27 color illus. + 2 maps
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