Belonging to Another Place: Travellers in Italy
Dr. Reine Dugas Bouton.
In the twenties, artists and writers set out for Italy seeking inspiration. Many decided to stay—this began an expatriate movement, one beyond the reach of the ‘common’ person. Today, however, people from all walks of life find their way to Italy for package tours, culinary lessons, searches for ancestors, rest in a small Tuscan villas, or, inevitably, to move there permanently. Although we are born in one place and live there most of our lives, many travelers express a sense of belonging to a country not even their own.
What draws Americans to Italy? A glimpse of la dolce vita? The delicious food, wine, espresso? The lovely countryside? Whatever the reason, people fall in love with this country in a way rarely as documented as it is in the growing body of travel literature about Italy. For many who have traveled there, Italy represents a place that feeds their souls—most who go once, long to return.
The travel narratives about Italy, and Tuscany in particular, detail this sense of (be)longing. In my discussion, I will explore the reasons why Italy is a place that lures in such a magnetic way and how that attraction translates to the work of travel writers like Frances Mayes, Barbara Grizutti Harrison, Tim Parks, Kate Simons, and others. Such writing goes beyond mere description, but, instead, depicts the impact ‘place’ can have on an individual.
Dr. Reine Dugas Bouton (United States)
Transitional Studies, Southeastern Louisiana University
Reine Dugas Bouton, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of English at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. Her publications include topics on writing and Eudora Welty. She has traveled to Italy several times and is conducting a study abroad program to Siena in the summer of 2005.
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)