Le Grand Tour today

Going travelling to find yourself

Going on extended journeys to find one’s centre, to define one’s tasks for life and to fulfil them afterwards was common practice, especially in the period between the Renaissance and the French Revolution. Societies and their people carried this concept within them; the idea was culturally strongly rooted.

This is how Le Grand Tour developed from the idea of the genius loci. These were extensive tours of Europe, mainly made by aristocrats from the United Kingdom, Scandinavia or North America. They were able to do so because the journeys were, by their very nature, extremely expensive and the average person could not afford them.

The aristocratic families of that era liked to send their sons especially on educational trips that could last up to three years when they were between 16 and 21 years old, Popular destinations were Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Travelling to foreign countries was considered ‘the done thing’ and the crowning achievement of aristocratic status.

The young people’s task was not only to become more courageous by their experiences, to learn to make quick decisions, to consolidate their customs and manners and to internalise international rules of etiquette. They had to let themselves, in a sense, be ‘infected’ by the places they visited, inhale their souls and feel their originality. Ultimately, it was about nothing less than personality development.

From the book “The Topophilia Effect. How Places affect us“, Roberta Rio

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