Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in the world, it comes as no surprise that Italy is the third most-visited tourist destination in the European Union.
Even in the 17th century, this was the place for young, middle-class Europeans, intellectuals and artists to come and do what was known as the Grand Tour. This was an educational journey for those who came of age, or had just got married, to immerse themselves in Classical and Renaissance art. The first stop on their itinerary was, of course, Italy. Writers, including Mary Shelley and Goethe, could not resist writing about their impressions of this marvellous Mediterranean country, in works such as ‘History of a Six Week’s Tour’ and ‘Journey to Italy’.
Headquarters of the Roman Empire, birthplace of Humanism and Renaissance, a visit to any of its main cities, such as Rome, Venice and Florence, all bastions of world art and culture, will give you a better understanding as to why Stendhal experienced such dizziness upon seeing the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence. His feeling of faintness was caused by the stunning beauty of the monument, and later gave rise to the term ‘Stendhal Syndrome’. Italy and its immense beauty is bound to make your heart race.
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