Since as far back as the Renaissance, Italy has been the destination of an infinite number of travelers, students, artists and the curious, who visited the peninsula to discover its artistic and natural patrimony in order to complete their education. This seminar will guide students through some of the most famous travel accounts of the Western canon (by Albrecht Dürer, William Shakespeare, Michel de Montaigne, Stendhal, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, and Mark Twain, among others) and reconstruct why travelers from different epochs and different backgrounds shared the same fascination with Italy. The texts read in class will also provide an opportunity to discover some of the actual sites that they describe: from the Roman ruins to Renaissance and Baroque art up to the new phase of urban development that began after Italy’s unification (1861). Finally, the course will also introduce the students to important resources present on the Berkeley campus, alternating lectures and discussion sessions in the class room with visits to museums and libraries.
The course is taught in English with readings in English.