Journey to Europe
What would Goethe write today if he travelled once more from the North to the South of Europe, 230 years on? Identities and cultures meet and change.
- Monday, 27 February 2017
When Wolfgang von Goethe arrived in Rome at the end of 1786, he took lodgings in the cen- tre of town. In his Journey to Italy, Goethe describes how he was over- whelmed by the beauty of the palaces, the grandeur of the furnishing, the magnificence of the frescos and dec- orations. There was nothing even vaguely comparable to his house in Weimar, with its narrow staircase and low ceilings, in cold and damp Thuringia. Goethe spent his first period in the “world capital” (as he used to call Rome) when the climate was mild and sunny. Gradually, however, he re- calls in his memoirs that he suffered from the cold. The Roman palaces were all equipped with fireplaces, ev- ery room had a stove in it, but they were nonetheless cold and damp. Fi- nally, the poet realised that the Romans hadn’t bothered to collect any firewood during the warm months. They were not very far-sighted people, and they had not prepared for the winter.