Premium

The English can learn from the inspirational beauty of Italy

The 'Carta della Catena' showing a panorama of Florence, 1490 by Italian School, (15th century); Museo de Firenze Com'era, Florence, Italy.
The 'Carta della Catena' showing a panorama of Florence, 1490 by Italian School, (15th century); Museo de Firenze Com'era, Florence, Italy. Credit: ALI109446 

“The pernicious charm of Italy”, EM Forster called it in his comedy of manners, A Room with a View. He came, he saw; Florence conquered. It’s a familiar tale for English people down the ages. Keats, Shelley, Byron, Browning: the romantics all went to the land of lemon trees (Goethe, vielen Dank) before buttoned-up Forster, and they were also spellbound.

A beaker full of the warm south. Keats’s line has become a cliché. Yet we recognise it for a good reason. The attraction of opposites, if you like. Not all English people are buttoned-up. Not all Italians put pepper on their strawberries. But there’s something in the difference, and that’s a good place to start.

You mean you haven’t had pepper on your strawberries? Until this week, in a trattoria a stone’s throw from the Arno, neither had I. Now you feel such a fool if you don’t. Taken with pineapple and lemon ice cream there’s really nothing...

Premium

Subscribe now for full access or register to continue reading

Subscribe now for full access or register to continue

Register / free

No Payment details required

  • One Premium article per week
  • Newsletters and daily briefings
  • Comment on articles

Premium /£1 per week for 13 weeks

then only £2 per week, cancel anytime

  • Unlimited Premium articles
  • Exclusive Subscriber Events
  • Enjoy Telegraph Rewards
  • Comment on articles
  • Newsletters and daily briefings
  • Complimentary digital access to The Washington Post
  • Find out more

READ MORE ABOUT: