Monthly Archives: February 2014

What inspires people to write about their travels?

When you visit somewhere new, even the everyday things seem fascinating and you will find yourself telling friends and family about them when you get back.
Just as people like to show you their holiday snaps when they return, or send postcards or text pictures to you while they are away, enthusiasm about what they have seen makes them want to tell others about it.
A compulsion to share what they experienced abroad was what inspired the earliest travel writers.
Centuries ago people kept journals about their travels or wrote long letters home giving detailed accounts of what they saw.
Thank goodness they felt the need to share their experiences, because what they wrote has given us a marvellous insight into what places were like in the past.
It is fascinating visiting Venice and seeing it through Lord Byron’s eyes, trying to imagine him in the narrow calle near his various residences, which have changed little since his time there.
He wrote detailed letters about his experiences in Venice to his friends and so we know that he actually preferred to travel by gondola or swim along the Grand Canal to avoid being recognised walking about the city by the tourists of his day.
One of Byron’s acquaintances in Italy at that time was Marguerite, Lady Blessington. She travelled further south after Byron set sail for Greece and spent more than two years in Naples staying in rented palazzi. Her journals give us a fascinating insight into what Naples was like at that time.
It was on 17 July, 1823 that  Lady Blessington began her Neapolitan Journals with an account of her first glimpse of the city. She wrote: “Naples burst upon us from the steep hill above the Campo Santo, and never did aught so bright and dazzling meet my gaze. Innumerable towers, domes and steeples, rose above palaces, intermingled with terraces and verdant foliage. The bay (pictured below), with its placid waters, lay stretched before us, bounded on the left by a chain of mountains, with Vesuvius, sending up its blue incense to the Cloudless sky.”Image
Lady Blessington was to fall in love with Naples and embrace the culture, attending local events, making what at the time were adventurous excursions and entertaining Neapolitan aristocrats and intellectuals.
Those who know Naples will recognise in her vivid descriptions places that have remained unchanged for the last 200 years. She also provides a valuable insight into what life was like at the time for ordinary people as well as the rich and privileged.
People who already love Naples will find her journals witty and endearing and those who have never visited the city will be inspired to go there as soon as possible.
 
For more information about Lady Blessington’s Neapolitan Journals visit http://www.bestofsorrento.com/2012/07/see-naples-and-die.html
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