American Travel Literature, Gendered Aesthetics, and the Italian Tour , 1824–62 by Brigitte Bailey is a fascinating book through literature, travels, paradisiac places, poetry, perceptions.
Italy and later the European Grand-Tour started to be a priority for the so-called elite, writers, poets, from the USA in search for inspiration and a new perspective in the past centuries.
Not only Americans loved to spend in the Bel Paese months when not years but once returned home they published great books thanks to their journals, sketches, giving to everybody an idea and perception: that Italy was for every one.
With the time they also invented a new profession: the one of travel-writer.
They haven't been the first ones to visit Italy, enchanted by this country.
Italy was visited by Goethe and other influential people in grade to report the best of this country with its paradisiac views, his artistic treasures, stunning panoramas, characteristic people, little towns.
This book offers perspectives from the history of art, and the study of tourism from 1824 to 1862 "read" under an American response thanks to a study of many books published about this theme during this historical time.
It was a great moment, a moment in which a new culture of tourism was blooming.
The perceptions of Americans regarding Italy? Three ideas: a classical site of republican values, a Gothic site of violence and sexual danger and an Arcadian landscape.
The author mentions a nice anecdote. While she was writing this book talking of this project with her parents, they shared with her their precious scrapbook that they keep as a precious jewel of an unforgettable past of their vacations during the 1950s in Italy plenty of pictures and postcards.
What do we search in a trip in fact if not answers, escapism, discovery of new places, people, foods, atmospheres, freedom, art, culture?
While Irving loved to portraying an aesthetic Italy thanks to his sketches, journals, books, with the time Italy will start to be idealized as a female in the American's imaginary perception.
Forten, an American woman's traveler will idealized Italy and in particular Rome. Rome a place of "genius" and "beauty" where she could be just herself without any kind of pressure, color of skin.
She was fascinated by the book written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh where the protagonist will be after all in grade to concile her english and italian traits.
Cooper and Cole scrutinized Italy under an aesthetic perception, enjoying the stunning italian landscapes. To them these wonderful scenarios were also reasons for the creation of a social harmonic society thanks to the feminine traits of Italy.
But who was the first Grand Tour traveler of Europe? He was 18 years old, his name was Bayard Taylor and he sailed for Liverpool with two friends and commission for travel essays from the Saturday Evening
Post and the United States Gazette.
To Taylor, this desire of searching for Europe and the Old World a dream since he was very little.
Maybe suggests the author this youngster the first American tourist to backpack through Europe.
He spent more than two years in Britain, Germany, France and Italy for the joy of his readers and his own :-) I guess and a brilliant career in various existential sectors.
Wonderful book if you plan a visit to Italy and if you want to look at this country with the privileged lenses of a literary tourism in grade to open new dimensions.
Not only: these writers will "read" with originality and love their own Italy giving a personal interpretation under many aspects of our country.
Highly suggested to everyone and first of all to the travelers of this world.
I thank Edinburgh University Press for the copy of this book.
Anna Maria Polidori