– TOURISM AND SOUVENIR –
If we put pilgrimages and explorations aside, tourism can be traced back to the early 1800s, when the custom to send their offspring around the world for educational purposes (Grand Tour) became established among the British aristocracy.
For a recreational tourism we will have to wait a few more years, after the publication of the books “Journey to Italy” (Italienische Reise), published in 1817 by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and “Memoirs of a tourist” (Mémoires d’un touriste), published in 1838 by the French writer Marie-Henri Beyle, known as Stendhal.
In the first case, it is the account of a long journey made by the author in Italy between 1786 and 1787, where among other sites he visited Verona, Venice, Florence, Bologna, Rome, Naples and Palermo. Goethe was so impressed from Naples that he wrote:
|« Neapel ist ein Paradies, jedermann lebt in einer Art von trunkner Selbstvergessenheit. »||Naples is a paradise that everyone lives in a kind of drunken self-forgetfulness.|
|« Man sage, erzähle, male, was man will, hier ist mehr als alles. Die Ufer, Buchten und Busen des Meeres, der Vesuv, die Stadt, die Vorstädte, die Kastelle, die Lusträume! »||You can say, tell, paint what you want, here is more than anything. The shores, bays and bosom of the sea, Vesuvius, the city, the suburbs, the castles, what a pleasure!|
|« Aber weder zu erzählen noch zu beschreiben ist die Herrlichkeit einer Vollmondnacht, wie wir sie genossen, durch die Straßen über die Plätze wandelnd, auf der Chiaja, dem unermeßlichen Spaziergang, sodann am Meeresufer hin und wider. Es übernimmt einen wirklich das Gefühl von Unendlichkeit des Raums. So zu träumen ist denn doch der Mühe wert. »||I can’t begin to tell you of the glory of a night by full moon when we strolled through the streets and squares to the endless promenade of the Chiaia, and then walked up and down the seashore. I was quite overwhelmed by a feeling of infinite space. To be able to dream like this is certainly worth the trouble it took to get here.|
|« Ich finde in diesem Volk die lebhafteste und geistreichste Industrie, nicht um reich zu werden, sondern um sorgenfrei zu leben. »||I find in this people the liveliest and wittiest industry, not to get rich, but to live carefree.|
|« Wir sind auch noch abends in die Grotte des Posilipo gegangen, da eben die untergehende Sonne zur andern Seite hereinschien. Ich verzieh es allen, die in Neapel von Sinnen kommen, und erinnerte mich mit Rührung meines Vaters, der einen unauslöschlichen Eindruck besonders von denen Gegenständen, die ich heut zum erstenmal sah, erhalten hatte. »||In the evening we went to the Grotto of Posillipo,just when the setting sun shone on the other side. I have forgiven all those who lose their heads for this city, and I remembered fondly of my father, who had kept an indelible impression on the things I’ve seen today for the first time.|
|« Von der Lage der Stadt und ihren Herrlichkeiten, die so oft beschrieben und belobt sind, kein Wort. »Vedi Napoli e poi muori!« sagen sie hier. »Siehe Neapel und stirb!»||From the location of the city and its glories, which are so often described and praised, not a word. “Vedi Napoli e poi muori,” they say here. See Naples and die!|
|Even here I seem to be another. So there are two things: either I was crazy before coming here, or am crazy now.|
|Today, I am given the mad joy, devoting all my time to these incomparable beauty. Towards folks I already find myself much better. Here one does not know anything of the other and it’s barely noticeable that they run here and there next to each other. They come and go every day in a paradise, without too look around them.|
Stendhal, instead, tells of his journey through parts of France still little known at that time, describing culture, dialects and traditions.
Since then, many others followed, although they still were travelers elite, whose memoirs and travel notes, like Goethe and Stendhal, were later used by travelers such as real guides.
At that time, the grand tour did not generally reach the south of Naples, until – but we are already in the nineteenth century – Stendhal wrote :
« To seize the whole essence of the Bel Paese is a must visit Sicily with its beautiful Greek ruins. »
What we now call tourism – ie organized and mass trips – can be traced back to the English entrepreneur Thomas Cook, who in the summer of 1841, taking advantage of the new possibilities offered by the railroad, organized a trip of just 11 miles (from Leicester to Loughborough), for 570 people at a cost of one shilling each. The success was such as to push Cook to organize more complex package tours, giving rise to the tourism industry. From that day onwards, thanks to new and faster means of transportation, tourism has been one of the most profitable businesses in the world, as it still is today.
Thanks to mass tourism, a growing number of people from all walks of life, had and have the opportunity to visit countries, cities and sites of cultural interest, albeit in far distant lands.
Tourist agencies that live and feed on “images”, the same that tourists capture and take home as a relic. To paraphrase the saying “there’s no trip without return,” we could say “there’s no trip without a memento”!
It’s one way to “authenticate” the journey, as if to say “I’ve been there!”
The huge success of the picture postcards that reflect sceneries and objects of a location (bought to send or keep), is the most striking example. But other items bought on the spot and referred to as “souvenirs” became common and a must in the years. The memento in all its forms, bought for themselves or for others, appears to become, though unconsciously, like a “certificate of visit,” a way to demonstrate that the trip did not disappoint our expectations, which we then keep to have memory and publicize our journey. It does not matter where the souvenir comes from or who has built it, whether it’s a plastic gondola “made in Taiwan” and bought in Venice, or a music box that plays “‘O sole mio“, built in China but bought in Naples, you put them on display in your home as to affirm “we have visited Italy.”
Another item that has made good fortune in past years, is the small “glass ball” with the fake snow inside which, after shaking the globe, falls on the landscape below. It does not matter if inside the sphere is represented the pyramid of Giza or the Colosseum in Rome in miniature, places that, in truth, hardly have a snowfall! ù
It’s the memory that counts and the place where you bought it.
Long since that the so-called “fridge magnets” are fashionable, a gadget now universal with which we conspicuously upholster our fridges’ doors. So that at first glance, any guest becomes aware that we have visited many places.
Not to mention the souvenir photo (or video)! Our photo albums and hard drives are full of souvenir photos (or video) taken during our travels and outings. Some have tried to even calculate the impact that cities such as Venice have had in the photographic industry’s business worldwide.
Landscapes and portraits which in most cases will be destroyed along with our house because our children will be too busy to collect their mementos, and we know that old things are thrown. While we will be a little less than a far memory for our grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Like psychologist P. Handke says, we (parents) are the foundation, but we then remain in the basement because the everyday life is above! Our memories remain so as long as we live…. alas everything is on the go and a passing on this earth!
Nowadays, with a simple internet search, especially if referring to famous destinations, you find thousands photos shot by tourists, and between maps, pictures, reports and sale of local products, you could even “virtually” travel without move from home.
– ARTWORKS ON LOAN –
Back to what I have repeatedly stated, namely that Italy is the country with the biggest concentration of works of art and archaeological finds in the world, the realization that major foreign museums ask for some works to be exhibited in their cities, this endorse my statement.
Works of art that come and go, becoming “loans” worldwide. It seems that nowadays the positive image of Italy is more “conveyed” by its masterpieces.
The most beautiful archaeological remains of Pompeii are currently on display in London, and it is a recent news that the “wooden Crucifix” by Cimabue and the “Dancing Satyr” of Mazara del Vallo will be exhibited in a museum in the United States.
In 2010 fifty masterpieces of the Italian Baroque of inestimable value were exposed to the Smithsonian Institute in Florida and in the Italian Museum of Fitzgerald Foundation of Florence, while last July, 67 works of art from Florence, they were useful to the Chinese to celebrate the centenary of the birth the National Museum in Beijing.
Many Sicilian artworks are around: the Auriga‘s marble from museum of Mozia, a work unique in its kind, sent to London as a result of trade agreements at the Olympic Games, and now in Malibu, in the Getty Museum, where it will be on display until August 2013; the Efebo of Selinunte is located in Shanghai on display at the exhibition organized for the Triennial, which will close on January, 2013; the Dancing Satyr, sculpture of extraordinary beauty attributed to the school of Lysippos, from Mazara del Vallo is in Shanghai for the Expo, along with the “Aries” from the archaeological Museum of Salinas in Palermo.
Yet, the Satyr, Aries and Auriga are part of the twenty-one works that should be immovable, but, on the contrary, they continue to travel by special permits that let them be away also for long periods.
In 2007 there was controversy on the “Annunciation” by Leonardo, which left Italy to reach Tokyo. And while the borrowing request about the “Birth of Venus” by Botticelli of some non-European countries is still being considered, the foreign tour of “Riace bronzes” has always been rejected by the archaeological superintendent of Calabria, events that reopen the debate on whether or not works of arts, preserved in our museums, should travel around.
I do not want to be accused of catastrophism, but those who has even a bit of acquaintance with this subject knows that the displacement of ancient works is always a risk, even without wanting to get to extreme cases such as the “Le peintre” by Pablo Picasso, destroyed in a plane crash on September 2, 1998
In addition, beyond the risks, an ethic issue should give any visitor, especially if coming from a distance, the right to find in a museum every work that is there stored.
And last but not the least, the possibility that the exhibition of works of art in different states can be disadvantageous for the tourism in Italy. Something that this country needs, and by way of example I can say that if I had the chance to see “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo, here in my country, I would certainly have one “less reason” for visiting the Louvre… uh?!
The Italian website Tripadvisor has selected the ten best Italian beaches. On Tripavisor’s site, you know, the judgment is expressed by travelers and tourists staying somewhere. Here’s the traveler’s choice out of a total of 276 locations examined.
1 – “Spiaggia dei conigli” (Beach of rabbits) – Lampedusa, Sicily
The islet of Rabbits is a lovely place in the south west of the island of Lampedusa. It is an isle located in the center of a wide bay, where the real gull nests.
Caribbean’s colors and a white beach that give a unique landscape. The wonderful sea, instead, does not make easy your departure.
2 – “La Pelosa Beach” – Stintino – Sardinia
A long and wonderful beach at the bottom of Capo Falcone, northern extremity of the island, close to the small fishing village. The sand is extraordinarily white and thin and the seawater is transparent.
3 – “Cala Mariolu” – Baunei – Sardinia
Its name is due to the fact that the beach was frequented by a monk seal. The fishermen called this place “mariolu”, ie thief, because the seal often managed to steal the fish directly from the networks. The beach of Cala Mariolu is gorgeous, characterized by small pebbles of pink marble mixed with sand. The water is clear blue.
4 – “Cala Brandinchi” – Capo Coda Cavallo, Sardinia
Cala Brandinchi is located in the village of Capo Coda Cavallo, in the municipality of San Teodoro. The beach has a background of white and very fine sand, bright hues, and surrounded by a pine forest and dunes.
5 – “Spiaggia di Tuerredda” – Teulada, Sardinia
Situated in a beautiful bay between Cape Malfatano and Cape Spartivento is considered one of the most beautiful beaches of Sardinia for its clear and fine sand and the transparent color of the sea, which seems a Caribbean landscape.
6 – “Spiaggia di San Vito lo Capo”- Sicily
The beach of San Vito lo Capo is enclosed in a small bay between the beautiful Natural Reserve of Zingaro and the Reserve of Mount Cofano, near the village of San Vito. Picturesque and popular seaside resort nestled in a landscape of great effect. The beach is beautiful, long and very wide, with fine white sand, lapped by a turquoise sea, clear and transparent.
7 – Tropea seaside – Calabria
With its different bay and inlets, Tropea is very attracting. Some of these bays and beaches are accessible only from the sea. The sand is white and fine and the sea clear and transparent.
8 – “Baia del Silenzio” (Bay of silence) – Sestri Levante, Liguria
Sestri Levante is a promontory called “island”, which extends towards the sea remaining united to the mainland by a thin strip of land that separates the Bay of silence from the Bay of Fables. During the summer the water is not as clear as in Sardinia, but it is a very lovely place.
9 – “Spiaggia del Fornillo” – Positano, Campania
The main beach in Positano is set like a precious jewel between Amalfi and Sorrento coast. This stretch of coastline has often been described as the most beautiful in the entire Mediterranean. One after another, green and rocky mountain lunge dramatically into the Mediterranean blue sea.