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The way we were: Impressions of southern Europe

Extracts from memoirs and diaries

By Ian Irvine   August 2013

American writer Gore Vidal in Ravello, Italy, circa 1974 © Condé Nast Archive/Corbis

In 1776, Samuel Johnson is recorded by James Boswell as observing:

“A man who has not been in Italy is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see. The grand object of travelling is to see the shores of the Mediterranean. On those shores were the four great empires of the world: the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman. All our religion, almost all our…

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