Entertainment The lavish Grand Tours of history — and how they shaped the way we travel today

04:50  29 october  2020
04:50  29 october  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Grand Tour was a rite of passage for elite young Englishmen with virtually unlimited money to burn — and their hedonistic adventures shaped how we view travel today . Unsurprisingly, sex, gambling, drinking, and lavish parties also found their way into the mix.

History of Tour Guiding - Free download as Word Doc (.doc / .docx), PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or read online for free. Both upper class and religious Pilgrimages encountered with the security and robbery impact along the way were very common, so those made pilgrimage were very afraid to

It was a rite of passage for young, upper-class Englishmen with virtually unlimited money to burn — a hedonistic "Grand Tour" far from home, unfolding over two or three or even four years.

Designed to teach them about art, history and culture, it was a kind of finishing school that would ready them for life in the powerful ruling elite.

Unsurprisingly, sex, gambling, drinking, and lavish parties also found their way into the mix.

For many historians, these travellers of the 17th and 18th centuries represent the first modern tourists.

They fuelled a passion for adventure and paved the way for the type of travel we know (and miss) today.

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The ultimate destinations

The Grand Tour began in about 1660 and reached its zenith between 1748 and 1789.

It was typically undertaken by men aged between 18 and 25 — the sons of the aristocracy.

First, they braved the English Channel to reach Belgium or France. There, many purchased a carriage for the onward journey.

They were accompanied by a guide, known as a "bear-leader", who tutored them in art, music, literature and history.

If they were wealthy enough, their entourage included a troop of servants.

While there was no fixed route, most tours included the great cities of Europe — Paris, Geneva, Berlin — and a lengthy sojourn in Italy.

"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," English author Samuel Johnson remarked in 1776.

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Choosing the ten most important events in history is one of the most difficult and controversial things to do. I’ve attempted to create a list of major events that shaped the RGraf is an accountant who loves to read, study history , and travel . She has researched and written for educational sites and authors.

The compartment for the travellers has the shape of a shallow U, with a protective roof above. The noble and the rich, such as young men on their way through Europe on the Grand Tour , travel in greater comfort - in private, and in well-sprung upholstered carriages.

Rome was considered the ultimate destination, but Venice, Florence, Milan and Naples were also high on the list.

A drive for education and enlightenment was at the heart of the tour.

The Grand Tourists looked at art, admired monuments, visited historical sites, and studied classical architecture. They mingled with the elite social classes.

Behaving badly

They were students with practically unlimited budgets, and often very little supervision.

European history expert Eric Zuelow says this meant they were "apt to behave in a rather different way with rather different interests than the Grand Tour was designed to instil in them".

"So what they tended to do was to go and drink a lot, to gamble, to frequent [sex workers]," he .

"They tended not to learn much in the way of languages, not to learn much in the way of culture, but to have a lot of fun.

"And that created, I would argue, really one of the first instances of the notion of tourists as being lesser creatures and travellers being something much better.

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"The first tourists, the Grand Tourists, did not behave all that well. And tourists have held that stigma ever since."

It wasn't all smooth sailing

In the days of the Grand Tour, travel wasn't for the faint-hearted.

There are many reports of the young men becoming ill from travel sickness, rough seas and foreign foods.

Disease was another threat — during his Grand Tour, writer John Evelyn nearly died of smallpox in Geneva.

Thieves were highly active, so many Grand Tourists didn't carry cash, instead taking the equivalent of travellers' cheques.

Roads were rough and full of potholes, and the carriages could only journey about 20 kilometres a day. Some parts of the trip were undertaken by foot.

"So they could be weeks just getting from one place to another," says historian Susan Barton.

Crossing the Alps was a particular challenge.

Some Grand Tourists hired a sedan chair to be carried, literally, over the mountain passes.

The "chairmen of Mont Cenis" became known throughout the Alps for their strength and dexterity.

The rise of 'self-illusory hedonistic consumption'

These early travellers carried guidebooks, which advised them of what to see, hear and do.

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They were told to show their wealth at every turn, to garner respect.

As time went by, those making the Grand Tour also became shoppers. They wanted to buy things they could later show off.

"What was happening at this time was a development of what one scholar called 'self-illusory hedonistic consumption', which is a really fancy term for spending money because buying things will make you better," Professor Zuelow says.

"The Grand Tour, with its original educational roots, merged with that self-illusory, hedonistic idea, creating a consumable."

The young tourists would return to England with bulging luggage — marble statues from Rome, colourful glassware from Venice, pumice stone from Naples.

They brought back paintings depicting the Colosseum in Rome, the canals in Venice, the Parthenon in Athens.

They'd also commission portraits of themselves, and a mini industry sprung up around this.

It wasn't just to remind themselves of all they had seen and done. It was so other people would also know.

The souvenirs were displayed with great pride in the family's estates and manor houses.

"And later some of those things ended up in museums," Dr Barton says.

"So in a way they were creating the future 20th century tourism where people were visiting country houses as part of their leisure."

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Not all Britons — and not all men

Although Britons far outnumbered all others, Professor Zuelow notes that they weren't the only Grand Tourists.

Peter the Great, the Russian Tsar, famously made the trip, as did German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and King Gustav III of Sweden.

And it also wasn't just men.

Professor Zuelow says English women such as author Mary Wollstonecraft and socialite Lady Mary Wortley Montagu spent extensive time in Europe, enjoying new freedoms and the chance for an education not available to them back home.

Travel for leisure and the Grand Tour's legacy

By 1815, the Grand Tour was disappearing.

Professor Zuelow says part of the reason for this is obvious: the French Revolution, followed closely by the Napoleonic Wars, swept across Europe starting in 1789 and extended until 1815.

"When the fighting stopped, many visitors returned — even if only to see the damages of war — but this was no longer the old Grand Tour," he writes in his book, A History of Modern Travel.

After 1815, travel to Europe slowly opened up for much wider social groups.

"So rather than just the aristocracy, we've got middle class people starting to travel, but it was still quite a lengthy process," Dr Barton says.

The legacy of the Grand Tour lives on to this day.

It still influences the destinations we visit, and has shaped the ideas of culture and sophistication that surround the act of travel.

It shaped the notion that there's something to be gained from venturing overseas, that there's a lot on offer if you can leave home to find it.

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"Prior to the Grand Tour, there wasn't a lot of travel for leisure," Professor Zuelow says.

"Medieval pilgrims have been put forward as possible tourists but they were travelling for religious purposes. And although they had a lot of fun along the way, it really was about getting into Heaven."

Many of the Grand Tourists wrote about their adventures, fuelling a new level of wanderlust in society.

The trips were the stuff of fantasy, and others wanted to follow.

It was a first step in the direction of mass tourism, and the kind of travel we know today.

"I define it really as travelling for the purpose of travelling, travelling for fun, travelling for enjoyment, feeling that travel is going to make you healthier and happier and a better person," Professor Zuelow says.

To hear more about the history of travel, the impact of technology on tourism, and the future may hold, .

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