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The Grand Tour

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Submitted By montsecorbi11
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The Grand Tour
In the past, "Grand Tour" was the name of the journey that mostly northern European nobles and rich bourgeois took to southern Europe to discover its ancient beauty and its incomparable richness of arts and culture. This type of travel began in the seventeenth century for the sake of education and experience, but the great age of the Grand Tour was the eighteenth century. At this time the travel experience was practically viewed as a requirement for wealthy Europeans as a transition from their school life to their “adulthood in which the young man might be expected to set an example of responsibility.” Italy and France were the most frequented places by these tourists due to their cultural richness, with particular interest in Paris. As the custom of travel developed, nature also became an important factor of the Grand Tour, as the Alps became an attractive destination for the travelers. The tour was more than a “passing fashion” because of its role as fundamental cultural training for cultivated Europeans.
The majority of those who had traveled to Italy in previous centuries had generally gone for work related or religious reasons. However, this travel was compatible with leisure, because “it fulfilled important cultural functions as travelers bought works of art or helped spread new tastes and cultural interests”. Although the religious and political tensions caused by Protestant Reformation affected the ability to travel, by the seventeenth century, traveling had become a leisure activity based in personal fulfillment. Because of the educational and enjoyment factors of France and Italy, they soon became the most popular destinations. The most distinctive itinerary began in northern France, followed by Paris, the capital, and continued into Italy through the Alps. This itinerary ending in the Alps gave way to the organization of “day trips out of Geneva for the express purpose of looking at glaciers and waterfalls” in the early 1760s. The different areas of interest in Italy offered a rich range of benefits including “classical antiquity (Rome and Naples), Renaissance architecture and art (Florence), the splendors of the Baroque culture (Rome and Venice), opera (Milan and Naples), and warm weather (Naples).” As the threat of the French Revolution rose the itineraries began to shift towards the German trips being more popular and extended due to increased interest in German literature. The most popular German destinations included Munich, Rothenburg, Salzbourg, Prague, and Berlin.
During the last decades of the eighteenth century the “Grand Tourists” and the diversity of destinations in the itinerary increased. The Grand Tour came to an end when the intellectual tourism became mass tourism and the “less socially elevated and less educated people [were added to] aristocratic male heirs.”

Bartlett, Kenneth. “Grand Tour” in Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History. Edited by William H. McNeill, 856-857. Massachusettes. Berkshire Publishing Group, 2005.
El Gran Tour. Last modified October 13,2010. Accessed on September 5, 2011.
Jeremy Black, Italy and the Grand Tour, Yale University Press publications, 2003. Introduction
James Buzard, 2002, The Grand Tour and after (1660-1840), The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing, 2002. Pg. 42 -43

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