For travellers visiting it during the Grand Tour era, Italy was an endless mine of antiquity, an open-air museum of a beauty that only Greeks and Romans seemed able to create. This was especially true of the statues, disturbing in their perfection, widely admired, yet also sources of scandal. Venus was the most emblematic example: dazzling nudity, limb proportions that artists kept busy measuring, carnality encouraging admirers to caress and hug. The Medici Venus in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Capitoline Venus in Rome, and the Landolina Venus in Syracuse are all idols that artists, writers and travellers placed at the heart of their Italian experience and recreated in their works. This book’s author combines chronicles, testimonies, literary works (by Shelley, Byron, Maupassant, Mérimée, Heine, Pound, and others) and offers an engaging depiction of those pilgrimages in search of beauty that a tour through Italy represented for many Europeans.
Attilio Brilli is a major expert on travel literature; his books have been translated into several languages.