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The solo journey was not provided for in the ritual of the Grand Tour, except under rare circumstances. If the traveler was young he needed a tutor, a “bear-leader” to keep an eye on him. If the traveler had no need of tutelage the form of the small party was still preferred, in order to share joys, hardships and – why not? – expenses.

In this connection Misson (1688), while advising people to travel in small groups, notes that, as in all unions, it is essential for the traveling companions to see eye to eye. If their temperaments are not similar (and there is always someone who wants to see everything even at the cost of getting soaked to the skin and skipping lunch and someone else who thinks of nothing but a comfortable bed and a hot meal), then it's better to avoid traveling in company.


The choice of a tutor, on the other hand, should not be based on compatibility but on the personal qualities of the individual who is going to perform that delicate role. Normally he would be sought in the world of writers, artists and scientists, i.e. among men motivated by an honest desire to derive cultural benefits from a teaching post. In this connection the Catholic priest Richard Lassels, from the height of the solid reputation he had gained as a tutor in English Catholic circles, warned against the risks of a hasty and ill-considered choice. According to Lassels, there were many tutors who took advantage of the means at their disposal in an underhand fashion, for example by enrolling the young aristocrats in their charge in less prestigious schools than the ones envisaged and pocketing the difference in the fee, or permitting them to form dubious friendships or even, in Venice, to take up residence in a brothel.


A “theatrical” and ostentatious form of travel was adopted by those who arrived in Italy with a whole train of carriages in their wake. Among the legendary examples were those of William Beckford (1783), accompanied by a tutor, a physician, a musician, a painting teacher and various servants; the earl of Burlington, who in 1714 traveled with a retinue of no less than fifteen people; the renowned “Blessington Circus” that accompanied Lady Blessington (1826); and the falconer, three hawks, ten horses, a hundred and twenty hounds and fourteen servants in the retinue of the keen hunter Colonel Thornton (1816).


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