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23 famous quotes to inspire you to travel to Italy

With a varied landscape encompassing mountains, beaches, and endless hills, plus more than its fair share of cultural heritage, Italy has attracted awe-struck tourists for centuries.

23 famous quotes to inspire you to travel to Italy
Venice's Rialto Bridge. Photo: Hernán Piñera/Flickr

During its time as the centre of the Roman Empire, Rome attracted people from the corners of the empire which stretched through modern day Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Later, religious pilgrims made the journey to visit the home of the Catholic Church.

During the 17th-century, aristocratic tourists began to discover the appeal of the country beyond Rome, undertaking the popular Grand Tour to learn more about Italian culture. And today the peninsula remains the world's fifth most visited country by tourists.

The following quotes, from Italian natives as well as those who have visited over the centuries, are sure to awaken your wanderlust.


Siena. Photo: Phillip Capper/Flickr

“A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.” – Samuel Johnson, English essayist.

“To Rome, for everything.” – Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, writing in his novel Don Quixote.

“In Italy, they add work and life on to food and wine.” – Robin Leach, English writer.

“And that is … how they are. So terribly physically all over one another. They pour themselves one over the other like so much melted butter over parsnips. They catch each other under the chin, with a tender caress of the hand, and they smile with sunny melting tenderness into each other's face.” – D.H. Lawrence, English novelist.


Rome. Photo: Bert Kaufmann/Flickr

“Rome, the city of visible history.” – George Eliot, English writer.

“In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” – Orson Welles, American actor, director and writer.

“Rome is not like any other city. It's a majestic museum, a living room to tiptoe through.” – Alberto Sordi, Italian actor.

“What is the fatal charm of Italy? What do we find there that can be found nowhere else? I believe it is a certain permission to be human, which other places, other countries, lost long ago.” – Erica Jong, American novelist.


The Dolomite mountains. Photo: Robert J Heath/Flickr

“I think people in Italy live their lives better than we do. It's an older country, and they've learned to celebrate dinner and lunch, whereas we sort of eat as quickly as we can to get through it.” – George Clooney, American actor.

“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.” – Giuseppe Verdi, Italian composer.

“In Paris, you learn wit, in London you learn to crush your social rivals, and in Florence you learn poise.” – Virgil Thomson, American composer.

“The Creator made Italy from designs by Michaelangelo.” – Mark Twain, American writer.

“Everything about Florence seems to be colored with a mild violet, like diluted wine.” – Henry James, American writer.


Florence. Photo: Maëlick/Flickr

“My favorite thing about Milan is that you see these guys, and it's as if a spaceship came out of the most attractive planet invented and just dropped them off all across the city.” – Brad Goreski, Canadian stylist.

“This was Venice, the flattering and suspect beauty this city, half fairy tale and half tourist trap, in whose insalubrious air the arts once rankly and voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism.” – Thomas Mann, German novelist.

“To build a city where it is impossible to build a city is madness in itself, but to build there one of the most elegant and grandest of cities is the madness of genius.” – Alexander Herzen, Russian writer, on Venice.

“Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go.” – Truman Capote, American writer.


Venice's Grand Canal. Photo: AFP

“Italy will never be a normal country. Because Italy is Italy. If we were a normal country, we wouldn't have Rome. We wouldn't have Florence. We wouldn't have the marvel that is Venice.” – Matteo Renzi, former Italian prime minister.

“I love the simplicity, the ingredients, the culture, the history and the seasonality of Italian cuisine. In Italy people do not travel. They cook the way grandma did, using fresh ingredients and what is available in season.” – Anne Burrell, American TV chef

“Move to Italy. I mean it: they know about living in debt; they don't care. I stayed out there for five months while I was making a film called 'Order Of Death,' and they've really got it sussed. Nice cars. Sharp suits. Great food. Stroll into work at 10. Lunch from 12 till three. Leave work at five. That's living!” – John Lydon, English lead singer of The Sex Pistols.


Le Marche. Photo: Eric Huybrechts/Flickr

“Italy and the spring and the first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.” – Bertrand Russell, Welsh philosopher.

“Your Italy and our Italia are not the same thing. Italy is a soft drug peddled in predictable packages, such as hills in the sunset, olive groves, lemon trees, white wine, and raven-haired girls. Italia, on the other hand, is a maze. It's alluring, but complicated. It's the kind of place that can have you fuming and then purring in the space of a hundred meters, or in the course of ten minutes. Italy is the only workshop in the world that can turn out both Botticellis and Berlusconis.” – Beppe Severgnini, Italian author of La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind.

“I was offered a free villa in Hollywood, but I said no thank you, I prefer to live in Italy.” – Ennio Morricone, Italian composer

Want more wanderlust inspiration? Check out our travel section for all the latest lists, features, and news related to travel in Italy.

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HISTORY

‘Lost’ manuscript of pro-Nazi French author published 78 years later

A book by one of France's most celebrated and controversial literary figures arrives in bookstores this week, 78 years after the manuscript disappeared

'Lost' manuscript of pro-Nazi French author published 78 years later

It is a rare thing when the story of a book’s publication is even more mysterious than the plot of the novel itself.

But that might be said of Guerre (War) by one of France’s most celebrated and controversial literary figures, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, which arrives in bookstores on Thursday, some 78 years after its manuscript disappeared.

Celine’s reputation has somehow survived the fact that he was one of France’s most eager collaborators with the Nazis.

Already a superstar thanks to his debut novel Journey to the End of the Night (1932), Celine became one of the most ardent anti-Semitic propagandists even before France’s occupation.

In June 1944, with the Allies advancing on Paris, the writer abandoned a pile of his manuscripts in his Montmartre apartment.

Celine feared rough treatment from authorities in liberated France, having spent the war carousing with the Gestapo, and giving up Jews and foreigners to the Nazi regime and publishing racist pamphlets about Jewish world conspiracies.

For decades, no one knew what happened to his papers, and he accused resistance fighters of burning them. But at some point in the 2000s, they ended up with retired journalist Jean-Pierre Thibaudat, who passed them – completely out of the blue – to Celine’s heirs last summer.

‘A miracle’
Despite the author’s history, reviews of the 150-page novel, published by Gallimard, have been unanimous in their praise.

“The end of a mystery, the discovery of a great text,” writes Le Point; a “miracle,” says Le Monde; “breathtaking,” gushes Journal du Dimanche.

Gallimard has yet to say whether the novel will be translated.

Like much of Celine’s work, Guerre is deeply autobiographical, recounting his experiences during World War I.

It opens with 20-year-old Brigadier Ferdinand finding himself miraculously alive after waking up on a Belgian battlefield, follows his treatment and hasty departure for England – all based on Celine’s real experiences.

His time across the Channel is the subject of another newly discovered novel, Londres (London), to be published this autumn.

If French reviewers seem reluctant to focus on Celine’s rampant World War II anti-Semitism, it is partly because his early writings (Guerre is thought to date from 1934) show little sign of it.

Journey to the End of the Night was a hit among progressives for its anti-war message, as well as a raw, slang-filled style that stuck two fingers up at bourgeois sensibilities.

Celine’s attitude to the Jews only revealed itself in 1937 with the publication of a pamphlet, Trifles for a Massacre, which set him on a new path of racial hatred and conspiracy-mongering.

He never back-tracked. After the war, he launched a campaign of Holocaust-denial and sought to muddy the waters around his own war-time exploits – allowing him to worm his way back into France without repercussions.

‘Divine surprise’
Many in the French literary scene seem keen to separate early and late Celine.

“These manuscripts come at the right time – they are a divine surprise – for Celine to become a writer again: the one who matters, from 1932 to 1936,” literary historian Philippe Roussin told AFP.

Other critics say the early Celine was just hiding his true feelings.

They highlight a quote that may explain the gap between his progressive novels and reactionary feelings: “Knowing what the reader wants, following fashions like a shopgirl, is the job of any writer who is very financially constrained,” Celine wrote to a friend.

Despite his descent into Nazism, he was one of the great chroniclers of the trauma of World War I and the malaise of the inter-war years.

An exhibition about the discovery of the manuscripts opens on Thursday at the Gallimard Gallery and includes the original, hand-written sheets of Guerre.

They end with a line that is typical of Celine: “I caught the war in my head. It is locked in my head.”

In the final years before his death in 1961, Celine endlessly bemoaned the loss of his manuscripts.

The exhibition has a quote from him on the wall: “They burned them, almost three manuscripts, the pest-purging vigilantes!”

This was one occasion – not the only one – where he was proved wrong.

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