The Evolution of the Grand Tour: Anglo-Italian Cultural Relations Since the Renaissance

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The Grand Tour has become a subject of major interest to scholars and general readers interested in exploring the historic connections between nations and their intellectual and artistic production. Although traditionally associated with the eighteenth century, when wealthy Englishmen would complete their education on the continent, the Grand Tour is here investigated in a wider context, from the decline of the Roman Empire to recent times. Authors from Chaucer to Erasmus came to mock the custom but even the Reformation did not stop the urge to travel. From the mid-sixteenth century, northern Europeans justified travel to the south in terms of education. The English had previously travelled to Italy to study the classics; now they travelled to learn Italian and study medicine, diplomacy, dancing, riding, fencing, and, eventually, art and architecture. Famous men, and an increasing proportion of women, all contributed to establishing a convention which eventually came to dominate European culture. Documenting the lives and travels of these personalities, Professor Chaney's remarkable book provides a complete picture of one of the most fascinating phenomena in the history of western civilisation.