The projected tour of Italy that Dickens lays out in his letter to Count D'Orsay on 7 August 1844 was realized in some measure both before Dickens returned to England in December 1844 and after his return from London, where he had gone briefly to read aloud the manuscript of The Chimes to a select group of friends and to supervise its publication with Bradbury and Evans. To D'Orsay he wrote about two tours, the first in November in the northern part of the peninsula: from the Kingdom of Piedmont northwest to Verona (in Venetia), southwest to Mantua, then west to Milan (in Lombardy), southwest to Turin (back in Pedmont), then northeast to Venice, south to Florence (in Tuscany), southwest to Pisa, and a short distance south to Leghorn (Livorno, still in Tuscany). The actual "first" trip, undertaken upon Dickens's completion of The Chimes, involved Parma, Modena, Bologna, Ferrara, Venice ("An Italian Dream"), Verona, Mantua, Cremona, Milan, Switzerland, Strasbourg, Paris, and London. In his travelogue Pictures from Italy Dickens lumps his northern and southern tours together. Sites that the book mentions but that the D'Orsay letter of August 1844 does not include Pompeii, Herculaneam, Paestum, Mt. Vesuvius, and Monte Cassino. Although he does not mention Vesuvius to D'Orsay, he singles out another Italian volcano as a "must-see": Mt. Aetna in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In January 1845, back from London, Dickens headed south from Genoa, to Carrara and Pisa, by rail to Leghorn (Livorno), then to Rome (which disappointed him), Capua, Naples, Herculaneum, Pompeii (and Mt. Vesuvius), and finally Florence. Making the return trip to England, Dickens and his family went overland via the St. Gothard Pass, Zurich, Frankfurt, and Brussels.

In the next decade, leaving his family back in England, Dickens returned to Switzerland and Italy in 1853 with the artist Augustus Egg and young writer Wilkie Collins. In nine weeks, the trio visited those very cities that Dickens had seen eight years previously: Milan, Genoa, Naples (including Mount Vesuvius), Bologna, Rome, Florence, Padua, Venice, and Turin. Always a great supporter of Italian reunification and of Italian Liberals, in 1860, Dickens published in All the Year Round as part of The Uncommercial Traveller series a story of shifting identification and sympathy, "The Italian Prisoner, a study in ambivalence set against the turbulent backdrop of risorgimento politics.

Related Material


Ackroyd, Peter. Dickens. London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1990.

Dickens, Charles. American Notes and Pictures from Italy. The Works of Charles Dickens in Thirty Volumes. New York: P. F. Collier and Son, n. d. [Pictures from Italy was originally published in volume form by Bradbury and Evans, London, in May 1846, after appearing intermittently in the Daily News, London, from 21 January to 11 March 1846]. Vol. 20.

---. The Pilgrim Letters, ed. Madeline House, Graham Storey, and Kathleen Tillotson. Oxford: Clarendon, 1974 and 1977. Vol. 3 (1842-1843) and 4 (1844-1846).

Forster, John. The Life of Charles Dickens. 2 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, n. d. (originally published in 3 vols., 1872-74).

Last modified 25 July 2007