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Southern Italy

Ancient Greek cities were built all over the coasts of Southern Italy and Sicily. Ancient remains are not visible everywhere but in some of the ancient cities such as Poseidonia (modenr-day Paestum) ancient temples stand impressive and almost intact.

Another city with intense Greek memories is Naples (ancient Neapolis) and its wider area. Travellers to Italy itself or on a journey to the East visited this regions, rich in ancient Greek past, and illustrated their works with related material. It should be noted that this website is focused on travel accounts of journeys to Southeastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, which only incidentally deal with Southern Italy. Consequently the graphic material on Southern Italy does not occupy a prominent position in the works studied. There is a large bibliography on journeys to Italy exclusively, with abundant and highly interesting illustrations. 

Southern Italy is often included in maps showing pilgrims' itinerary from the Adriatic to the Eastern Mediterranean, such as: the isolario by G.Fr. Camocio (1574) with its original maps, the isolario of Antonio Millo (1582-91), and the pilgrim chronicle by J. Zuallart (1587) which includes advice and suggestions related to travelling conditions in the East. In 1572 T. Porcacchi published a very successful isolario, (here the edition of 1620) in which he employed the novel technique of copper engraving. This technique permitted the creation of more detailed and accurate images and a greater concentration of information; it gradually became the technique of choice for all illustrated works, until the early 19th century, when progressively lithography became the most popular technique.  Also, in the chronicle of J. van Cootwijck's journey to the Holy Land (1619), the reedition of the work by prominent Flemish diplomat O..G. de Busbecq (1664), the chronicle of the siege of Crete by R. Palmer (1669), the detailed account by A. de LA Mottraye (1727), the companion Atlas to A. Grasset de Saint Sauveur's three-volume work on the Ionian islands (1800), the travel account by Martin du Tyrac (Vicomte de Marcellus), responsible for carrying the statue of Aphrodite of Milos away to France, the highly popular early 19th century album by R. Walsh / Th. Allom (1836-38), and the excellent coloured lithograph album by Εt. Rey (1867). It is also included in cartographic works such as the port indexes by J. Bellin (1771) and J. Roux (1804) and the “Atlas” to J.J. abbé Barthélemy's travel narrative and fictional recreation of antiquity, which painted an idyllic panorama of the ancient world. The view of Palermo in the account by Αl. Bisani (1793) is a copy of a similar plate found in the work of J. Houel. As with his other works, the British topographer W.M. Leake (1824) provides systematic and detailed archaeological observations.

Among the earliest depictions of ports and sights in Southern Italy are the original drawings by J. Maurand in 1544. Early depictions of local costume are found in the work by C. Vecellio (1598, reedition in 1859). Also interesting are the amusing sketches of human types in the Album by  O’Hara (Smith) in 1859, showing several people the author met during his journey.

The interest of travellers however is focused mainly on the antiquities of Poseidonia. The plates of G.B. Piranesi (18th century) belong to the current of Neoclassicism and at the same time herald the Romantic attitude towards classical monuments. His highly evocative depictions aim to dazzle the viewer, as ancient ruins predominate against an almost unreal landscape. The rich cartographic production of the late 18th century includes the remarkable maps of P.G. Chanlaire (c. 1780), here coloured over. In the early 19th century, the standing ruins of the temples inspired several plates The preserved temples offered material for illustrations (J.J. Horner in 1823, R.R. Farrer in 1882), became the object of architectural studies (W. Wilkins in 1807 and Ch. R. Cockerell in 1830) and inspired works dedicated exclusively to them (An. Suares in 1937). W. Black also visited Naples in the 1820's and made drawings of its main sights. Monuments, sights, archaeological sites and landscapes of geological interest are depicted in the vignettes which illustrate the "Relation" of J.B. Bory de Saint Vincent (1836), which describes the journey of the Section of Natural Sciences of the Expedition Scientifique de Morée.

There are also Albums of engravings exclusively on Southern Italy such as the Raccolta of 1850 which depicts all the sights of the area in detailed plates. The travel account of Victor Godart-Faultrier (1857) is accompanied by a separate album. The excellent lithographs show works of ancient Greek art as well as rarely pictured Byzantine antiquities. The prolific Irish scholar J.P. Mahaffy wrote an account of his tour of Greece (1890), illustrated with exquisite wood engravings. The plates were etched from pencil drawings, which in their turn were based on imaginary representations and photographs.

The work of  J. von Falke (1887 / 2002) is illustrated by exquisite engravings. They show works of ancient Greek art and imaginary depictions of scenes from the public and private life of the ancient Greeks.

Naples also attracted the attention of several visitors. Some of them stopped there briefly on their journey to the East and others toured its surrounding area, rich in historical memories, including Pompey ((Η. Beauvau in 1615, F. Moryson in 1617, G. Sandys in 1615, R. Pococke in 1745, L. Dupré in 1825,  N. Wright in 1842, H. Allan in 1843, Piraeus and Ports showing an 1890 view).

Other locations or ports appear as isolated illustrations in the works by W.F. Ainsworth (1870), which has a view of Stromboli, and Th. S. Hughes (1820), with a plate of Messina. In addition, the imaginary representation of Taranto in the work by German humanist N. Gerbelius, in accordance with the aesthetics of the time (1545), tries to convey the magnificence of ancient monuments. Gerbelius pubished an accompanying text to the map by N. Sofianos from Corfu (mid-16th century), illustrated with views of cities and locations related to place names on the map. Finally, J.A.M. Adelphus' chronicle of the Ottoman empire (1513) is illustrated with engravings, among which a view of Otranto.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou