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A Journey through Customs

 Manoscritto con rappresentazione a colori delle Feste di San Giovanni Battista a Firenze

This is the richest, most adventurous, most entertaining and most informative journey that readers of travelers' tales can be taken on, when they are able to start listening to the account of journeys that were actually made.

It is true that it is easy, especially in the 18th-century version of the genre, to find yourself struggling through dispiriting lists of names, artists, works and roads. But even in the most stark accounts there is always room for a mention, perhaps without a detailed description, of the feast day of the city's patron saint, of the dress or character of its citizens, of the music to be heard at a particular opera house. It is the human side of the journey that always creeps in, becoming dominant in accounts of an almost ethnographic tome and including, with the dawn of the Romantic sensibility, the human side of the writer too.

Making a choice of places turns out to be fairly difficult. Through the observations of travelers we are in fact offered a very broad picture of the usages and customs of Tuscan society, from intellectual life to aspects more closely linked to tradition and local peculiarities.

A separate chapter is devoted to the British and the special relationship they have had with the city of Florence for centuries.


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