Scandinavia was a rare destination for 17th-century travelers and represented Otherness within the borders of Europe. Anu Raunio examines the image of the exotic and far away North transmitted by a number of Italian travel accounts from Francesco Negri’s Viaggio settentrionale to Alessandro Bichi’s Relazione dei viaggi — some published, others recently discovered.
Scandinavian countries started to evoke interest during 17th century among European travelers. Intellectual curiosity was a driving force behind many early modern travels, and travel accounts became an instrument of spreading empirical information collected during the travels on foreign societies and people. Travel writing was popular and manuscripts gained readership as they circulated in the learned circles and courts in Italy. Italian travelers were well aware of being off the beaten track — as one of them stated in 1696, the travel he took to Scandinavia was “rarely practised by Italians”. Anu Raunio wishes to place recently discovered travel accounts in the context of the history of travel, examines traveling to the North as a reverse grand tour — meaning that Scandinavia became a destination instead of being just a point of departure for southbound journeys. She analyzes the image of the North transmitted by these travel accounts, addressing the civil — barbarian dichotomy and the practise of travel as linguistic, culinary and religious border crossing.
Anu Raunio, Ph. D., is a researcher in Italian Studies collaborating with the University of Turku, Finland, and currently IFK_Research Fellow.