Cultural Experiences in Florence and Italy: The Grand Tour Narrative in the 21st Century

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In this article I explore various current myths that lead foreigners, especially North Europeans and North Americans, to choose to visit/live in Florence or Tuscany for a while or forever. Is it possible to discern any shared, collective representations? If so, how do such myths fit into the contemporary everyday life of the city? Can we identify a pathway from the aesthetic quest for “authentic” Italian life to cultural encounters with Italians in the flesh? My hypothesis is that one of the leitmotifs of foreigners’ experiences is a romantic, and to a lesser degree, intellectual approach towards “Florence without Florentines”. If so, there is nothing new “Under the Tuscan Sun”: the Grand Tour narrative is alive and kicking. Contemporary experiences of Florence and Tuscany continue to be shaped by the social imaginary inherited from the early nineteenth century. Travellers and sojourners come to Florence with a set of expectations shaped through filmic and literary representations and see what they expect to see, not least because the Italians are equally complicit in performing their part in this ritualised experience.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number20
Pages (from-to)191-205
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 5141 Sociology
  • Grand Tour
  • narrative
  • culture
  • travel
  • experience
  • romantic myth
  • Florence and Italy

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