Pictures from Italy
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Pictures from Italy

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  149 ratings  ·  28 reviews
After Martin Chuzzlewit was published in 1844, Dickens deliberately took a break from novels to travel in Italy for almost a year.

Bored by many traditional tourist sites and repelled by the greed and empty rituals of the Catholic church, Dickens is far more attracted by urban desolation, the colourful life of the streets and visible signs of the nation's richly textured p...more
Paperback, 220 pages
Published July 1st 1998 by Penguin Classics (first published 1846)
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Dec 06, 2012 Tony rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: travel
PICTURES FROM ITALY. (1913). Charles Dickens. ****.
According to a preface written by the author, “This book is a series of faint reflections – mere shaadows in the water – of places to which the imaginations of most people are attracted.” Dickens spent a year touring Italy – including getting there and back – and managed to see a great deal of it, in spite of the difficulty of travel in those days. As a habitual visitor to Italy myself, I really enjoyed his insights into the people and their he...more
A curious volume from Mr. Dickens. Much better than his "American Notes", perhaps because he seems less disappointed and is more forgiving, but also because it reads less like a reporter's diary and more like a novelist's travelogue. That is, fewer facts and figures about prisons and asylums, more portraits of people and stores of the land. More heart, less head, one could say. Also interesting because one very much senses the development and evolution of the public persona of Dickens here - and...more
Wonderfully descriptive

This is a delightful account of Charles Dickens‘ travels through Italy in 1846. The writing, of course, is superb and whereas his novels tend to be a bit too wordy for my taste, this travelogue reads like a breeze.

In his adventurous forays Dickens displays amazing courage, energy and stamina – even braving an ascent of Vesuvius at night. At other times he soaks up the multitude of impressions at leisure – the chapter on Venice is especially charming.

Dickens gives us his p...more
Rollie Reid
In 1844 Charles Dickens took a break and visited Italy. He takes a house in Genoa, and then after completely trashing Genoa and Italy in general in this book, he takes off on a tour of Italy, taking in all the great sites.

I can only imagine that Dickens was very tired from working on his novels and truly needed the relaxation of an extended vacation, because through most of the book he comes off as more than a little grumpy. That is the best way I can put it.

His prose is wonderful, and his descr...more
Mariano Hortal
Publicado en

Aprovechando que hace poco comenté una biografía literaria de Charles Dickens aquí en este mismo blog, voy a tomarlo como referencia para hablar, ahora sí de una sus últimas novelas publicadas, el libro de viajes “Estampas de Italia”. El propio escritor comenta en el prólogo inicial lo que serán sus intenciones con respecto a él:

“Este libro está compuesto por una serie de apuntes leves -meros reflejos en el agua- sobre lugares a los que la im...more
Frank Miller
Charles Dickens seems to hate Italy, until the very end where he wants to forgive it. The real problem that I had with to book is that travel writing should offer you a sharp colorful picture of a place, even if sometimes idealized. With Dickens, Italy seemed like a blurred, faded sepia place seen through an ill composed photograph.
Actually, I'm reading this at for free. At Gutenberg,you can download editions of classic books which have entered the public domain. This is the great-grandaddy of any travel book you've ever read, and it's a treat. Dickens dashed this off while spending a year in Genoa and the writing is such fun that you often forget that he's writing it in 1844. Tourist traps, you'll be interested (if not happy) to know, are not a recent invention.
Wonder how much of what he saw then is still standing? A goo...more
Perhaps mistakenly, I expected more humour from this travelogue, a la Mark Twain in The Innocents Abroad (which I enjoyed tremendously). Anyway, based on Dickens' writing, it seems that Italy hasn't changed very much since 1846!
laura saldarini
I have to say I'm glad to have read this novel.
Nonetheless, I actually don't know if I really liked it.
I was shoked by Dickend's words, by the disgust that he
freely expresses in describing the popular, poor, and run-down
places of Italy.
Unfortunately, I don't know much about the first part of the 19
century (maybe it's time to dust off some of my old history books),
but his words seem to private any beauty of every kind of redemption.

beautifully written are the parts about the marble quarries o...more
My favorite author in my favorite country...a perfect combination. The first twenty or so pages were slow going, but then again they were for Dickens, too. At this point in the book/journey he was going by carriage through France. When he arrives in sunny Italy, everything improves and the book has the charm, warmth, love of life, and (pardon this France) joi de vivre that makes Italy such an invigorating and stimulating place to visit - today, AND in the mid1800s.
Hal Brodsky
Some parts are very good. Venice. Vesuvius. Vatican. OK, The "V"'s are good. The rest is uneven.
Michael B.
Even though I love every thing I have read by Charles Dickens, I didn't think I was going to enjoy this as much as I did. I was afraid that without his interesting characters and plot this travel book would not hold my interest but of course the people he meets a long the way and Italy itself are the characters. I enjoyed his descriptions of the people and places, and his views on art and religion.
Dave Turner
I've always not enjoyed reading travel log books and one's like this where the author himself isn't enjoying himself are excruciating. After this and his previous outing in 'American Notes', I'll choose to just remember the great man who wrote this for his amazing works of fiction instead.
Jan 31, 2010 Andrea added it
I got the complete works of Dickens for my Kindle for $1! I'm laughing out loud when I read this. The description of the dungeons in the Palais des Papes in Avignon, where the Inquisition took place is horrifying and funny at the same time, because the 'goblin' who gave the tour is hilarious.
This is a travelogue of the author's time spent in Italy. I really enjoyed the detail in his descriptions of towns and scenery. It gives an overall impression of a leisurely amble through the Italian countryside, as well as criticism of things like the Vatican. It is an interesting critique.
Krisette Spangler
I wish I could say that I enjoyed this more, because Dickens' writing is always wonderful. However, I found myself feeling annoyed with his talk of how dirty certain areas and people of Italy were. He had a very "the English are a superior people" attitude that I found tiresome.
This was fun to read, as one of my favorite English novelists describes his travels in my favorite European country. I loved
his descriptions of Rome and Florence especially and how much he
appreciated the Italian lifestyle, festivals, costumes, food, attitudes, etc.
Aug 09, 2013 Roneice is currently reading it
Loving Travel and having lived in southern Italy when I was young (many years ago) I am enjoying what I have read so far. I didn't know Charles Dickens had written anything like this. That fact alone makes it interesting for me. This was a free eBook.
Charles Dickens applied his eye for detail and his humor to travel writing. I loved it. I've been trying to read Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad for a year and it feels vague and sarcastic in contrast.
I read this while in Italy and although only parts of it overlapped the places I traveled (plus it was written 150 years ago), I enjoyed Dickens' writing immensely and also his observations.
Emer Tannam
Beautifully written, incredibly descriptive and, at times, hilarious, I enjoyed this book, especially recognising in his account things which are still true of Italy today.
An interesting travel book and views of Italy. Thisbook makes me want to save up and follow Dicken's path!
Greta Roussos
Especially enjoyed his descriptions of Rome, Naples & Florence, places I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting.
I love reading what people have written about of my favourite places I've been, and Dickens does it in style.
An entertaining read about a journey Dickens took. Not always respectful, but funny.
This is basically a travelog of Charles Dickens trip to Italy in the 1800's.
Love these travel scripts!
Barbara Russo
Barbara Russo marked it as to-read
Sep 16, 2014
Kyle marked it as to-read
Sep 12, 2014
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A prolific 19th Century author of short stories, plays, novellas, novels, fiction and non-fiction; during his lifetime Dickens became known the world over for his remarkable characters, his mastery of prose in the telling of their lives, and his depictions of the social classes, morals and values of his times. Some considered him the spokesman for the poor, for he definitely brought much awarenes...more
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“And let us not remember Italy the less regardfully, because, in every fragment of her fallen Temples, and every stone of her deserted palaces and prisons, she helps to inculcate the lesson that the wheel of Time is rolling for an end, and that the world is, in all great essentials, better, gentler, more forbearing, and more hopeful, as it rolls!” 3 likes
“It is a place that 'grows upon you' every day. There seems to be always something to find out in it. There are the most extraordinary alleys and by-ways to walk about in. You can lose your way (what a comfort that is, when you are idle!) twenty times a day, if you like; and turn up again, under the most unexpected and surprising difficulties. It abounds in the strangest contrasts; things that are picturesque, ugly, mean, magnificent, delightful, and offensive, break upon the view at every turn.” 2 likes
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