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MARCHEBEUS, –. Voyage de Paris à Constantinople par bateau à vapeur. Nouvel itinéraire orné d’une carte et de cinquante vues et vignettes sur acier…, Paris, A. Bertrand, 1839.

The use of steam-powered transport marks the transition from wandering travellers to mobile tourists. The first steam yacht majestically entered Eastern Mediterranean waters in April 1833. This first cruise to the East on a steamship, which last until August the same year, was organized by the architect Marchebeus, who also wrote the chronicle of the journey, together with the French doctor J. Giraudeau de St. Gervais (1802-1861), which was published by the latter in 1835. For his text, Marchebeus consulted also diary notes by other passengers, whose names he cites after the preface to the edition. Sixty eminent personalities of the time travelled on the yacht "Francesco I": princes, artists, scholars and diplomats from Bavaria, Spain, Hungary, London, Edinburgh, Berne, Paris, Hamburg, Stockholm and Florence, among whom were Maximilian the brother of King Otto, the Baron of Seidlitz and the Duchess of Berry.

The ship sailed from Marseilles. After visiting Genoa, Livorno, Naples, Messina, Catania and Taormina, the distinguished passengers arrived in Syracuse. They then continued on to Malta and from there arrived at “beautiful, laughing” Corfu on 29 April. Apart from historical data, Marchebeus also descibes scenes of the island’s everyday life (costumes, customs and occupations of the locals, the countryside, etc.). The yacht then voyaged to Patras, from where the passengers visited Delphi. Next port of call was Zacynthos, for which island too Marchebeus records information on the population, crops, tar production, the port, the castle, the multilingual inhabitants, etc. In continuation the group disembarked on the west coast of Elis and, after visiting Olympia, they travelled on to the bay of Navarino, sailed along the southern coast of the Peloponnese and arrived at Nauplion, from where they toured Argos, Mycenae and Tiryns After stopping over at Hydra, Poros, Aegina and Corinth, they arrived in Athens on 22 May. The ship sailed by Cape Sounion and across the Aegean to Smyrna, of which Marchebeus describes the bazaars, the public baths and the port, as well as the city of Ephesus. It dropped anchor in Mytilene on Lesbos. The party toured Assos on the Asia Minor coast and sought for Homeric traces in Troy. On 8 June they passed through the Hellespont to Constantinople, where they stayed for nearly twenty days.

On their return trip, the company visited Smyrna again and then sailed towards Syros, “the blazing pyramid”, in which the hot summer was in harmony with hot festive evenings on the island. The cruise continued on to Tenos, Myconos, Delos, Naxos, Paros, Antiparos, Melos and Cythera. After leaving Greece, the yacht called in at Malta, Sicily and Naples with the nearby famous Roman ruins.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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