Mapping the Grand Tour Travel Writings: a GIS-Based Inventorying and Spatial Analysis for Digital Humanities in Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy (XVI-XIX c.)

Elena Dai Prà, Nicola Gabellieri


Literary GIS has emerged as a new pioneering approach, a field of study in literary geography that aims at bridging texts with places/spaces through the digitisation of literary works. It aims for a better understanding of the text/place/space nexus, including landscape and territorial history, using quantitative and comparative approaches and strategies of dissemination. This paper provides an early-stage report on the development of a literary GIS of Trentino-Alto Adige (Italy) based on Grand Tour travel writings from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. These texts, including reports and some early examples of tourist guides, represent valuable sources of information about the people, the spaces described, and the cultures within which the writings were framed. The specific case study of Trentino-Alto Adige has been selected because the area was one of the most important gateways for travellers coming from Northern Europe who intended to visit Italy. As a first step, over 250 passages from travel writings were collected, digitised and georeferenced. The paper presents the sources, as well as the developed inventory sheets and the GIS structures. The result is a comprehensive geodatabase that can be used for micro and macro analysis, in terms of: identification of historical routes and citation clusters; spatial comparisons of the different sites cited in the literary passages; also analysing and mapping references to textual elements that refer to landscapes, societies and cultures. In the next phase, the geodatabase will first be enriched with additional authors, then published online, in order to develop a Literary Atlas of Grand Tour travellers in Trentino-Alto Adige and to facilitate literary, geographical and historical research on the corpus, on local landscapes and societies of the past and on travels’ attitude and praxis.


literary geography; literary GIS; Grand Tour; travel literature; historical geography; literary sources

Full Text:



Alves, D. and Queiroz, A.I. (2013) ‘Studying Urban Space and Literary Representations Using GIS: Lisbon, Portugal, 1852–2009.’ Social Science History, 37(4), pp. 457-481.

Alves, D. and Queiroz, A.I. (2015) ‘Exploring literary landscapes: From texts to spatiotemporal analysis through collaborative work and GIS.’ International Journal of Humanties and Arts Computing, 9(1), pp. 57-73.

Andreotti, G. (1994) ‘La geografia culturale e il tema del paesaggio.’ In Zerbi, M.C. (ed) Il paesaggio tra ricerca e progetto. Turin: Giappichelli, pp. 63-85.

Bainbridge, S. (2020) Mountaineering and British Romanticism: The Literary Cultures of Climbing, 1770-1836. New York: Oxford University Press.

Balzaretti, R. (2011) ‘Victorian Travellers, Apennine Landscapes and the Development of Cultural Heritage in Eastern Liguria, c.1875-1914.’ History, 96, pp. 436-458.

Balzaretti, R. (2019) ‘Crossing the River Magra in the ‘Land of Broken Bridges’: Risk in Early Nineteenth-Century Travel Narratives.’ Journal of Risk Research, 22(9), pp. 1101-1115.

Beaumont, A. (1792) Travels through the Rhaetian alps in the year XDCCLXXXVI from Italy to Germany, through Tyrol. London: Clarke.

Bertrand, G. (2004) ‘Le voyage en Italie au XVIIIe siècle: problématiques et perspectives.’ Bulletin de l’AHMUF, 27, pp. 27-45.

Black, J. (2003) Italy and the Grand Tour. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Brilli, A. (1988) Il ‘Petit Tour’: itinerari minori del viaggio in Italia. Milan: Silvana editoriale.

Brilli, A. (2006) Il viaggio in Italia. Storia di una grande tradizione culturale. Bologna: Il Mulino.

Brosseau, M. (2017) ‘In, Of, Out, With, and Through: New Perspectives in Literary Geography.’ In Tally, R.T. (ed) The Routledge Handbook of Literature and Space. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, pp. 9-27.

Brothers, B. and Gergits J. (1966) British Travel Writers, 1837-1875, Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit and London: Gale Research.

Butler, A. (1803) Travels through France & Italy, and part of Austrian, French, & Dutch Netherlands, during the years 1745 and 1746. Edimburg: Keating, Brown, and Keating.

Cambry, J. (1801) Voyage pittoresque en Suisse et en Italie. vol. II. Paris: Chez H. J. Jansen.

Chard, C. (1999) Pleasure and Guilt on the Grand Tour. Travel writing and imaginative geography 1600–1830. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Chevalier, M. (2001) Géographie et Littérature. Paris: Société de Géographie.

Cooper, D. and Gregory, I. (2011) ‘Mapping the English Lake District: a literary GIS’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 36, pp. 89-109.

Cooper, D., Donaldson, C. and Murrieta-Flores, P. (eds) (2016). Literary Mapping in the Digital Age. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.

Dai Prà, E. (ed) (2013) APSAT 9. Cartografia storica e paesaggi in Trentino. Mantova: SAP.

Dai Prà, E. (2019) ‘Il Viaggio in Italia di Goethe: ontologia del paesaggio nel solco della tradizione speculativa geografica (e non solo) tedesca?’ In Salvadori, F. (ed) L’apporto della Geografia tra rivoluzioni e riforme. Rome: A.Ge.I., pp. 617-620.

De Seta, C. (1982) ‘Presentazione.’ In De Seta, C. (ed) Storia d’Italia. Vol. 5. Il paesaggio. Turin: Einaudi, pp. XXIII-XXXIII.

Donaldson, C., Gregory, I.N. and Taylor, J.E. (2017) ‘Locating the beautiful, picturesque, sublime and majestic: spatially analysing the application of aesthetic terminology in descriptions of the English Lake District.’ Journal of Historical Geography, 56, pp. 43-60.

Ebel, J.G. and Audin, J.M.V. (1846) Manuel du Voyageur en Suisse et en Tyrol. Paris: Maison.

Frémont, A., (2005) Aimez-vous la géographie. Paris: Flammarion.

Gabellieri, N. (2019a) Geografia letteraria dei paesaggi marginali: la Toscana rurale in Carlo Cassola. Sesto Fiorentino: All’Insegna del Giglio.

Gabellieri, N. (2019b) ‘Il paesaggio scomparso della gelsicoltura in Vallagarina: un approccio geografico-storico a fonti integrate.’ Geostorie, XXVII(1), pp. 57-78.

Gavinelli, D. (2007) ‘Geografia e Letteratura.’ In Casari, M. and Gavinelli, D. (eds) La letteratura contemporanea nella didattica della geografia e della storia. Milano: Cuem, pp. 5-14.

Gephardt, K. (2016) The Idea of Europe in British Travel Narratives, 1789-1914. London and New York: Routledge.

Goethe, J.W. von (1816) Italienische Reise. Stuttgart und Tübingen.

Grava, M. (2016) ‘Imagenes estupidas versus imagenes inteligentes. Empleo de WebGIS y Cloud service para la publicacion de geo-datos.’ Revista Uruguaya de Historia Economica, VI(9), pp. 73-80.

Gregory, D., Johnston, R., Pratt, G., Watts M. and Whatmore, S. (2009) The Dictionary of Human Geography. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Gregory, I., Kemp, K. and Mostern, R. (2003) ‘Geographical Information and Historical Research: Current Progress and Future Directions.’ Humanities and Computing, 13, pp. 7-22.

Gregory, I., Donaldson, C., Murrieta-Flores, P. and Rayson, P. (2015) ‘Geoparsing, GIS, and textual analysis: current developments in spatial humanities research.’ International journal of Humanities and Arts Computing, 9(1), pp. 1-14.

Grendi, E. (1999) ‘Dal Grand Tour a la passione mediterranea.’ Quaderni storici, 100(1), pp. 121-133.

Harris, T., Corrigan, J. and Bodenhamer, D. (2010) ‘Challenges for the Spatial Humanities: Toward a Research Agenda.’ In Bodenhamer, D., Corrigan, J. and Harris, T. (eds) The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 167-176.

Heine, H. (1830) Reisebilder. Tableaux de voyage. Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe.

Hones, S. (2010), ‘Teaching and Learning Guide For: Text as It Happens.’ Geography Compass, 4(1), pp. 61-66.

Ingamells, J. (1997) A dictionary of British and Irish travelers in Italy 1701-1800. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Inglis, H.D. (1837) The Tyrol; with a glance at Bavaria. III ed., London: Whittaker.

Lassels, R. (1670) Voyage of Italy, or a Compleat Journey through Italy. Paris.

Lévy, B. (2006) ‘Géographie et littérature: une synthèse historique.’ Le Globe, 146, pp. 25-52.

Marengo, M. (2016) Geografia e letteratura. Piccolo manuale d’uso. Bologna: Patron.

Mercey, F.M. (1833) Le Tyrol et le Nord de l’Italie, vol. II. Paris: Bohaire.

Mercey, F.M. (1835) Tyrol. Trente. Paris: Chez Desenne.

Misson, M. (1702) Nouveau voyage d'Italie, avec un mémoire contenant des avis utiles à ceux qui voudront faire le mesme voyage, La Haye: H. van Bulderen.

Montaigne, M. de (1775) Journal du voyage de Michel de Montaigne en Italie, par la Suisse et l'Allemagne en 1580 & 1581. Paris: Chez Le Jay.

Montesquieu, C. (1894) Voyages de Montesquieu. Bordeaux : Gounuilhou.

Moretti, F. (1998) Atlas of the European Novel 1800 – 1900. London: Verso.

Musset, P.M. de (1855) Voyage pittoresque en Italie, Partie Settentrionale. Paris: Belin-Leprieur et Morizot.

Murrieta-Flores, P., Donaldson C. and Gregory I. (2017) ‘GIS and Literary History: Advancing Digital Humanities research through the Spatial Analysis of historical travel writing and topographical literature.’ Digital Humanities Quaterly, 11(1), [Online] [Accessed 03 June 2013] 000283/000283.html.

Osti, G. (2017) Attraverso la regione Trentino-Tirolese nel Seicento. Rovereto: Osiride.

Papotti, D. (2003) ‘Attività odeporica ed impulso scrittorio: la prospettiva geografica sulla relazione di viaggio.’ Annali d’Italianistica, 21, pp. 393-407.

Percy, G.A (1983) Travel Literature and the Evolution of the Novel. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky.

Persi, P. and Dai Prà, E. (2001) “L’aiuola che ci fa...” Una geografia per i parchi letterari. Urbino: Urbino University Press.

Piana, P., Balzaretti, R., Moreno D. and Watkins, C. (2012) ‘Topographical Art and Landscape History: Elizabeth Fanshawe in Early Nineteenth-Century Liguria.’ Landscape History, 33, pp. 65-81.

Piana, P., Watkins, C. and Balzaretti, R. (2018) ‘Travel, Modernity and Rural Landscapes in Nineteenth-Century Liguria.’ Rural History, 29(2), pp. 167-193.

Piozzi, H.L. (1789) Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany. vol. II. Dublin: Chamberlaine.

Ronchini, M. (2014) ‘Il paesaggio rurale dei viaggiatori in Trentino.’ In De Bertolini A. (ed) Terre coltivate. Storia dei paesaggi agrari del Trentino. Trento: Fondazione Museo Storico del Trentino, pp. 84-98.

Scaramellini, G. (1985) ‘Raffigurazione dello spazio e conoscenza geografica: i resoconti di viaggio.’ In Bianchi E. (ed) Geografie private. I resoconti di viaggio come letture del territorio, Milan: Unicopli, pp. 27-123.

Scaramellini, G. (2008) Paesaggi di carta, paesaggi di parola. Luoghi e ambienti geografici nei resoconti di viaggio (secoli XVIII-XIX). Turin: Giappichelli.

Sévillia, J. (1991) Le Chouan du Tyrol : Andreas Hofer contre Napoléon. Paris: Perrin.

Speake, J. (ed) (2003) Literature of travel and exploration. An encyclopedia. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.

Starke, M. (1830) Guide classique du voyageur en Italie. Paris: Chez Audin.

Taylor, J., Donaldson, C., Gregory, I. and Butler J.O. (2018) ‘Mapping Digitally, Mapping Deep: Exploring Digital Literary Geographies.’ Literary Geographies, 4(1), pp. 10-19.

Thompson, C. (2012) Travel Writing. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.

Tinguely, F. (2006) ‘Forme et signification dans la littérature de voyage.’ Le Globe, 146, pp. 53-64.

Travis, C (2015) Abstract machine: humanities GIS. Redlands: Esri Press.

Vuillemin, A. (1864) Atlas illustre de geographie commerciale et industrielle. Paris: Francois Delarue, Bulla Freres.

White, H. (1987) The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation. Baltimora: John Hopkins University Press.

White, W. (1856) On foot through Tyrol, in the summer of 1855. London: Chapman and Hall.

Zaniboni, E. (1907) L’Italia alla fine del Secolo XVIII nel “Viaggio” e nelle altre opere di J.W. Goethe, Il Trentino. Napoli: Ricciardi.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 Elena Dai Prà, Nicola Gabellieri